Miscellaneous Aspects & Final Words

The Asustor AS-304T is a 4-bay NAS, and most users are going to use it in a RAID-5 configuration for optimal balance of redundancy and capacity. Hence, we performed all our expansion / rebuild testing as well as power consumption evaluation with the unit configured in RAID-5. The disks used for benchmarking (Western Digital WD4000FYYZ) were also used in this section. The table below presents the average power consumption of the unit as well as time taken for various RAID-related activities.

Asustor AS-304T RAID Expansion and Rebuild / Power Consumption
Activity Duration Avg. Power
Idle (No Disks)   17.02 W
Single Disk Init (4TB in JBOD) 18m 28.03 W
4 TB JBOD (1D) to 4 TB RAID-1 (2D) 10h 12m 39.15 W
4 TB RAID-1 (2D) to 8 TB RAID-5 (3D) 1d 0h 13m 49.64 W
8 TB RAID-5 (3D) to 12 TB RAID-5 (4D) 1d 8h 11m 59.61 W
12 TB RAID-5 Rebuild (4D) 15h 19m 59.91 W

Coming to the business end of the review, the performance of the AS-304T is more than acceptable given the target market (home consumers / power users) and the single GbE link. The only complaints we have about the unit are the fact that the firmware doesn't seem to take advantage of all the fancy features that are provided by the Evansport SoC. In particular, we don't have any mobile apps that can make use of the SoC's transcoding capabilities. The security engine is also not utilized to provide better performance with encrypted folders. XBMC and related media functionality are nice features to have (they perform in an excellent manner for the average consumer's media collection comprised of photographs / video from smartphones and camcorders). However, they are not going to satisfy advanced HTPC users (no HD audio bitstreaming support, for example).

On the positive side, Asustor's ecosystem of NAS applications (App Central) is much better than some of other new entrants to the NAS market. The Asustor AS-304T is one of the better designed NAS units (in terms of both hardware and software) that we have come across. The unit made it through all our tests without any hiccups.

During the review process, I happened to install the beta version of ADM 2.1 (since the firmware that was originally shipped with the review unit didn't support encrypted folders properly). There was a little bit of trouble (nothing major, considering that it was a beta firmware), and I filed a bug report using the UI. The prompt attention to the questions / issues from the support engineers was very welcome. The resolution came very soon in the form of a new build. Again, this is much better than the experience I had with the support teams of other NAS vendors.

Asustor initially targeted the EU and Asian markets. They have shifted attention to the US market very recently. Today, Amazon carries the unit for a retail price of $478. While this would have been a very acceptable price for a full-fledged x86-based 4-bay NAS appliance, the fact that the unit only carries a single GbE link makes the price a little difficult to swallow.

From our experience with the unit, we can say without doubt that Asustor is a very effective and welcome addition to the list of SOHO / SMB NAS vendors. We look forward to evaluating more Asustor units that present a better price to features/performance ratio than what is provided by the AS-304T.

Multi-Client Performance - CIFS
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  • EricZBA - Wednesday, March 26, 2014 - link

    Can you install Plex on this unit? Reply
  • ganeshts - Wednesday, March 26, 2014 - link

    Yes, available in App Central: http://www.asustor.com/apps/app_detail?id=142

    However, like most platforms, there is no hardware accelerated transcode using Plex
    Reply
  • imaheadcase - Sunday, March 30, 2014 - link

    Isn't the 1gig of memory hard on apps though? Couchpotato/sickbeard/SABzbd would be a bad idea even if its available since they run as a service. Or am I thinking this wrong., Reply
  • LordConrad - Wednesday, March 26, 2014 - link

    The hardware specs on these Home/SOHO NAS units are rather anemic. I built my own a couple years ago based on an i3-2120, 8GB RAM, and NAS4free. Much better performance than any Atom-based NAS unit. Reply
  • Beany2013 - Wednesday, March 26, 2014 - link

    I used to agree with you, but I picked up a Synology DS214+ recently and realised that these days, if you just want to be able to saturate a gigabit link when shuffling files, and stream media (with the exception of hardware transcoding to non-PC devices, natch) then something like 'this' is a much, much easier path.

    Especially as I build/fix/generally look after servers and general IT stuff for a living - last thing I want to be doing when I get home is build *another* RAID array...

    It's getting to the stage where these devices are good enough for most of us - IE power users - and only edge cases (such as transcoded streaming) really need a dedicated, self-built server.

    Not arguing!

    Steven R
    Reply
  • manmax - Wednesday, March 26, 2014 - link

    What if the device decides to quit working and you're using RAID. You may not be able to recover your data by putting the drives in another server. Especially if the original NAS is using hardware RAID. Reply
  • Zak - Thursday, March 27, 2014 - link

    Well, you still need to have a backup. Reply
  • ganeshts - Thursday, March 27, 2014 - link

    Most of these COTS NAS units (Synology / QNAP / Asustor etc.) don't use hardware RAID. Just take off the drives, plug them into a PC, make images and mount them. Linux systems can auto-recognize these RAID volumes. If using Windows, use something like UFS Explorer to get your data off it. That is the reason I like software RAID more than hardware RAID. Reply
  • CalaverasGrande - Friday, March 28, 2014 - link

    I completely agree. I could really blow the doors off of a NAS custom build. But when I get home after a 12 hour day of Raid rebuilds, Backup restores and email issues, the last thin I want to do is build a boring little Linux storage box.
    My next NAS will eitehr be Synology or Qnap. Good balance of features, performance and most relevantly, a MATURE OS and firmware.
    Heck I may even throw performance out the window and pick up one of the hated DROBO NAS products. They aren't the fastest, and their 'beyondraid' is proprietary. But when I've used their products in professional environs they were easy to set up and worked. Albeit slooooowly.
    Besides, I've yet to meet a raid array level 5 or hhigher that can be migrated between devices without backing it up and restoring it to the "new" raid.
    Reply
  • Gigaplex - Saturday, March 29, 2014 - link

    Software RAID on Linux is portable between devices. Reply

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