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I tested the AS-604T with 1.0.4.RBU2 firmware, using our NAS test process with RAID 0, 5 and 10 volumes. As is our standard practice, four drives were configured in each volume type.
Windows File Copy tests show surprisingly similar read and write throughput for RAID 0 and 10 volumes at around 104 MB/s for all results. RAID 5 departs from this pattern with 97 MB/s write and 90 MB/s read.
ASUSTOR AS-604T benchmark summary
As we have seen in other recent reviews, Intel NASPT File Copy results run about 20 MB/s higher for write. But, in a departure from past results, read throughput for RAID 0 and 10 volumes, runs about 10 MB/s lower. RAID 5 departs from this pattern with even higher write throughput (120 MB/s vs. 97 MB/s) and only slightly higher read (94 MB/s vs. 90 MB/s).
Keep in mind the maximum theoretical throughput with a Gigabit Ethernet connection is 125 MB/s. So results higher than that have some write cache effect baked in.
iSCSI performance of 97 MB/s for write and 90 MB/s read place the 604T near the very top of both charts.
Attached backup tests had to be hand-timed because ASUSTOR log timestamps show only hour and minute. Backup throughput was fairly consistent for the FAT32, EXT3 and NTFS drive formats tested within each connection type (USB 2.0, USB 3.0 and eSATA). Best case throughput of 59 MB/s was obtained with NTFS format with both eSATA and USB 3.0 connected drives.
Network backup to a DeltaCopy target on our NAS Testbed system measured around 36 MB/s, which is fairly typical of what we see.
Performance - Comparative
To put the 604T's performance in perspective, I created a set of custom performance charts using the NAS Finder to compare a group of D2700 Atom-based products with the AS-604T, i.e. Synology's DS412+, QNAP's TS-569 Pro and Thecus' N4800.
As I have found in other recent similar comparisons, there is not a wide performance difference among this group. Results are so close, that you would be hard-pressed to detect a performance difference in real-world use. Despite all the memory, system resources and CPU power that ASUSTOR claims that its "app-based" approach provides, it doesn't seem to result in higher performance.
RAID 5 file copy performance comparison
Performance - Encryption
As in other recent reviews, I checked the 604T's performance hit for encryption. ASUSTOR supports folder-level encryption so it didn't take me long to create an encrypted folder on a RAID 5 volume for testing that auto-mounted for read/write upon reboot.
The results are summarized in the Excel table below and once again show the serious toll that encryption takes on performance.
RAID 5 normal vs. encrypted performance
Use the NAS Charts to further explore and compare the AS-604T's performance
I think ASUSTOR has a hard job ahead to establish itself as yet another premium NAS brand. The company doesn't appear to be using pricing as a differentiator, the feature set is similar to QNAP / Synology / Thecus and there is no US support at this point. So how is ASUSTOR going to win share in the US?
I put the question, pretty much stated as above, to ASUSTOR when they first asked for a review. They came back with the following key points:
- There are not that many players in an "exponentially growing market"
- The app-based approach lets users create a NAS with the features they want
- Media player features (HDMI port and apps) are part of the design
- Flexible push-pull backup for local network, attached drives and cloud
- They intend to "catch up quickly no matter [what] in software and hardware"
While they did concede my point on current lack of U.S. support, they said they are working to get their world-wide support network in place.
ASUS has shown it has the ability to attract attention in the consumer networking market, at least for the SmallNetBuilder audience. Our reviews of the RT-N66U, RT-AC66U and RT-N56U have consistently been the most-read reviews each week since being published.
But the NAS market is very different than consumer routers. Selling prices are higher, as are margins. And everyone is hoping to steal business from Dell, HP, NetApp and others by replacing workgroup servers and even simple SANs with their higher-end machines that are looking more like the "big iron" they are aiming to replace with each generation.
Given that ASUSTOR's first products all use the most powerful Atom processor available in NASes today, I'd say they are going to be focusing on the premium market, too.
If you want to judge for yourself, the price to play is at least $500, which will get you a two-bay AS-602T. If you want to try RAID 5, you'll need to pony up about $200 more to take home a 604T.
You might want to let someone else do the early exploring, though. Unless you have money to burn or don't mind getting all your support from an online forum and shipping your NAS back to Taiwan if it goes belly-up.
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