ASUSTOR AS-604T NAS Network Storage Server Review


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1GB RAID 5 Test Results

If you’ve got more than three HDD spindle to put in play, it makes sense to use one of the more advanced RAID configurations. RAID 5 is one of the most popular setups, primarily due to the balance it exhibits between capacity and redundancy. Not surprisingly, most NAS units that can support more than three HDDs also support RAID 5, so it makes sense to use it for test purposes. Most NAS products that can support RAID 5 go beyond the minimum number of drive bays, to a total of four, so that is the number of drives that I typically use to test with, even though I could get by with only three.

The results for RAID 5 Read testing show the ASUSTOR AS-604T running ahead of all the other units we’ve tested, racking up an impressive 119.0 MB/s read speed with 1 GB files and Jumbo Frames enabled. That’s quite a feat, as the mighty TS-879U-RP uses its Intel Core i3 CPU to good advantage, and the ASUSTOR AS-604T does its thing with only a Dual-Core Intel Atom. All of these NAS platforms do a credible job here, though. None of them would do a poor job in a typical READ scenario; it’s typically the Write performance that separates the men from the not-so-men.


The 1 GB RAID 5 disk write test shows more clearly the strain that this particular RAID configuration puts on the NAS infrastructure. It’s well known that RAID 5 write performance can be a weak point, with all the computation overhead involved and the extra parity bits that need to be calculated and written to each of the drives. The only way to overcome that is with raw computational horsepower, which is why the ARM-based models lag way behind both the Intel Atom and Core i3 units. The ASUSTOR AS-604T puts in a good performance, just slightly behind the usual group of three heavyweights at the front. The top performer is the QNAP TS-879U-RP, and it writes this particular data set to disk about 15% faster than the AS-604T. The Marvell-based NAS devices just can’t compete at the same level here. It’s an inescapable fact that the simplest assignment any NAS can perform is basic backup duty, and in order to do that task well, you need to buy the most powerful system to effectively reap the benefits of a multi-disk array. Don’t scrimp on the NAS platform if you can help it.


Next up is 10 GB (1000 metric megabytes / 10,000,000,000 bytes) file transfer testing. Using the 4-disk RAID 5 configuration in each NAS, and a single Gigabit connection, network throughput will be put to the test, and the effect of any system or hardware caches will be minimized.

10GB RAID 5 Test Results

Looking at read tests with a single 10GB file, the ASUSTOR AS-604T still sits at the top of the performance ladder, with a read speed that’s more than 5% faster than the next highest performing unit. The results still generally favor the more expensive models, even though the AS-604T upsets that theory. Then you have the NAS units with ZFS operating systems, which run slower than the Linux-based boxes, at least when comparing similar hardware. It’s not a 1:1 ratio of improvement with higher cost anymore; the market has gotten more complex than that. The bigger issue is this: in order to do substantially better than this, you have to upgrade the network connection; GbE is only good for 125 MB/s on a theoretical basis, and several of these models are banging up against that ceiling.


Looking at Write tests with a single 10GB file, the results are not all that different from the 1 GB tests. The ASUSTOR AS-604T runs at exactly the same average speed; the results for both 1500 MTU and Jumbo Frame results are identical. The ASUSTOR AS-604T has to work a little harder than the models with an i3, but the CPU load didn’t really get much higher than 50% during RAID 5 testing. The Marvell-based units always had the CPU maxed out in Write activity, and it really hurts the RAID performance. The other thing that makes a difference is the presence of a dedicated RAID controller like the ICH10R chip that is found in the ASUSTOR and the Thecus. It takes a significant load off the CPU, and its architecture and instruction set is optimized for HDD I/O.


All in all, my impression of these test results is that the ASUSTOR AS-604T is an excellent performer that exceeded my expectations. The marketing materials for this model have been a bit imprecise about the CPU specifications, perhaps because ASUSTOR thought people wouldn’t believe the performance they achieved with an Atom Dual-Core. The Read performance was brilliant, and the Write performance was fully competitive. I’m a believer now.

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