Introduction and Testbed Setup

Asustor is one of the recent entrants in the NAS market. Over the last couple of years, they have tried to play in the same space as QNAP and Synology (with units based on the Atom D2700 as well as Evansport). However, they have recently opted to put more emphasis on the mid- to upper-range of the market with Haswell-based products in the 70-series. Rackmounts were introduced at CES, and the lineup was expanded at Computex. Asustor sent over the AS7008T, the 8-bay variant in a tower form factor, for review.

Unlike the 8-bay tower units from QNAP and Synology, the AS7008T opts for a horizontal drive strategy with two columns of drive bays. The main selling point of Asustor's 70-series is the presence of a high-performance Haswell Core-i3 processor (compared to the Atom-based models that QNAP and Synology are putting emphasis on for the SMB market). However, it has to be noted that the cost is correspondingly higher too. In terms of chassis I/O and hardware features, the AS7008T comes with a PCIe 3.0 x8 expansion slot and HDMI output. Other connections are pretty standard, with the usual bevy of USB 2.0 and 3.0 as well as eSATA ports. As usual for such systems, the 350W PSU is in-built. The PSU has a small fan in addition to the 2x 120mm fans in the rear responsible for cooling the drives and the motherboard components.

The specifications of the Asustor AS7008T are provided in the table below

Asustor AS7008T Specifications
Processor Intel Core i3-4330 (2C/4T Haswell x86 Cores @ 3.5 GHz)
RAM 2GB DDR3 (Expandable. Max 16GB)
Drive Bays 8x 3.5"/2.5" SATA II / III HDD / SSD (Hot-Swappable)
Network Links 2x 1 GbE
External I/O Peripherals 3x USB 3.0, 2x USB 2.0, 2x eSATA
Expansion Slots PCIe 3.0 x8
VGA / Display Out HDMI
Full Specifications Link Asustor AS7008T Specifications
Price USD 1523 (Newegg)

In the rest of the review, we will take a look at the Haswell / 8-series PCH and how the Asustor AS7008T takes advantage of it. This is followed by benchmark numbers for both single and multi-client scenarios across a number of different client platforms as well as access protocols. We have a separate section devoted to the performance of the NAS with encrypted shared folders. Prior to all that, we will take a look at our testbed setup and testing methodology.

Testbed Setup and Testing Methodology

The Asustor AS7008T can take up to 8 drives. Users can opt for either JBOD, RAID 0, RAID 1, RAID 5, RAID 6 or RAID 10 configurations. We expect typical usage to be with multiple volumes in a RAID-5 or RAID-6 disk group. However, to keep things consistent across different NAS units, we benchmarked a RAID-5 volume spanning all drives. Eight Western Digital WD4000FYYZ RE drives were used as the test disks. Our testbed configuration is outlined below.

AnandTech NAS Testbed Configuration
Motherboard Asus Z9PE-D8 WS Dual LGA2011 SSI-EEB
CPU 2 x Intel Xeon E5-2630L
Coolers 2 x Dynatron R17
Memory G.Skill RipjawsZ F3-12800CL10Q2-64GBZL (8x8GB) CAS 10-10-10-30
OS Drive OCZ Technology Vertex 4 128GB
Secondary Drive OCZ Technology Vertex 4 128GB
Tertiary Drive OCZ Z-Drive R4 CM88 (1.6TB PCIe SSD)
Other Drives 12 x OCZ Technology Vertex 4 64GB (Offline in the Host OS)
Network Cards 6 x Intel ESA I-340 Quad-GbE Port Network Adapter
Chassis SilverStoneTek Raven RV03
PSU SilverStoneTek Strider Plus Gold Evolution 850W
OS Windows Server 2008 R2
Network Switch Netgear ProSafe GSM7352S-200

The above testbed runs 25 Windows 7 VMs simultaneously, each with a dedicated 1 Gbps network interface. This simulates a real-life workload of up to 25 clients for the NAS being evaluated. All the VMs connect to the network switch to which the NAS is also connected (with link aggregation, as applicable). The VMs generate the NAS traffic for performance evaluation.

Thank You!

We thank the following companies for helping us out with our NAS testbed:

Setup Impressions and Platform Analysis
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  • buxe2quec - Monday, December 1, 2014 - link

    I have a ZFS-based home-server that acts as NAS with also mail server, IMAP server (not to have mail on each client, less stuff to backup), and so on. I use a Xeon E3-1220 with 32 GB RAM and RAID10 (4x3TB).
    I used OmniOS (based on ilumos, a Solaris derivative) as operating system.
    I would like to perform tests like the ones of this review to compare my home-built system with standard offerings (i know what I get with ZFS, I would like to know how much performances I lose), and also to compare the performances of a ZFS-based server with standard offerings that always use Linux mdadm (software RAID).
    However with 32 GB (ECC) RAM (overkill, I know) doing reliable tests that are not affected by the (aggresive) ZFS caching is difficult.
    Could anyone give me suggestions, or could Anandtech test a similar setup? after all, the product of this review is an i3 that may support (as some other i3 chips do) ECC, it would be a good choice for home-builds, whenever the desired fileystem is ZFS (OmniOS but also FreeNAs, or NAS4free).

    Thanks.
    Reply
  • PrimozR - Monday, December 1, 2014 - link

    Maybe they should test a HP Microserver running FreeNAS?

    As far as i can see, the Microserver series is by far the best when it comes to a cheap NAS build, if you want to run ZFS. The system with no drives costs 200 €, where you then must add 8 GB of ECC RAM, but you still get under 300 € for an ECC enabled ready made NAS case for 4 drives. Just a Xeon motherboard will cost you 140 € on the low end (for LGA-1150 CPUs, supporting ECC). With the Gen8 Microserver you even get the ability to swap out LGA-1150 CPUs. Gen7 uses AMD's offerings.
    Reply
  • buxe2quec - Monday, December 1, 2014 - link

    The Gen8 Microserver would make sense, but the Gen7 is too weak and is CPU limited. Concerning the other alternative you mention, keep in mind that Xeons are not the only option: if you can find a ECC-enabled mobo, y i3 with ECC support will do fine at a very low price. Check here for a configuration: https://forums.freenas.org/index.php?threads/ecc-v...

    Concerning FreeNAS (or NAS4free, they are both good): they may not achieve the full performances for ZFS-related tasks, compared to illumos kernels (like OmniOS or Nexenta), but it would still be interesting.
    Reply
  • DanNeely - Monday, December 1, 2014 - link

    What does it need a 350W PSU for? None of the tests shown went above 135W. Even adding some margin for more power hungry drives and adding a bit of headroom to avoid efficiency/power quality penalties from running near full load it seems a 175 or 200W PSU would be more than sufficient. Reply
  • KAlmquist - Monday, December 1, 2014 - link

    Some hard drives are specified to draw 2 amps on the 12 volt line when spinning up. Multiply 2 amps by 12 volts by 8 disks, and you have the disk drives alone drawing 192 watts while the system is powering up. In theory a user could install a 25 watt PCIe card and plug in USB devices that draw 18.5 watts. Add in power for the CPU and motherboard, and you are getting close to 300 watts.

    350 watts is overkill, but the cost difference between a 300 watt power supply and a 350 watt power supply is pretty minimal.
    Reply
  • DanNeely - Monday, December 1, 2014 - link

    That's what staged/sequential powerup is for. Turn your HDDs and USB drives (if you support the higher power USB modes) sequentially instead of all at once. Higher end storage servers have done this for years; I'm not sure how far down the market it's gotten. Reply
  • hjones - Friday, December 19, 2014 - link

    If you go to the Asustor website just from the model names alone it makes me think these are re-badged Synology equipment...at the very least they are OEMing some of the technology.
    The ADM config & management not only looks very similar, albeit differently themed...its even using the same underlying technology - Sencha ExtJS. The app store is remarkably similar too.
    Anyone know more about this company? What is their relationship with Synology?
    Reply
  • hjones - Friday, December 19, 2014 - link

    From Anandtech's own article (http://www.anandtech.com/show/7887/asustor-as304t-...
    "Asustor, Synology and Thecus were touted as partners building NAS units based on this platform"
    Reply
  • jeepcrazy - Wednesday, January 28, 2015 - link

    I feel completely ripped off by Asustor. Avoid them at ALL costs. My 608T operated fine for about a month and then the network ports died. Won't take an IP manually or via DHCP. After two weeks of back and forth email (one per day since they respond at 3am) they finally provided an RMA. I sent it to them, they kept it two weeks and sent it back, supposedly with a new main board. It has the EXACT same issue. So incredibly unacceptable for a business class NAS to have such terrible, slow, and ineffective support. If you have an outage, expect ZERO sympathy from Asustor. They have no cross shipment capability and no advance replacement offering. I wish I had bought a Synology or built my own. This cost me 12TB of data. Reply

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