Performance - Comparative
To put the N10850's performance in perspective, I created a set of custom performance charts using the NAS Finder to compare a group of non-Atom Intel-based NASes. I came up with only the Thecus N6850 (Pentium G620), QNAP TS-1079 Pro (i3-2120) and relatively-old Thecus N7700PRO (Core 2 Duo) to compare.
The performance spread is very small among this group, but the QNAP TS-1079 Pro won three of the four comparisons. When it didn't win (NASPT File copy), it lagged behind the winner—the N10850—by 12 MB/s
As I've noted before, unless you were paying close attention, I doubt you would be able to tell the difference in performance among this group.
RAID 5 file copy performance comparison
Performance - Do Drives Make A Difference?
As mentioned earlier, Thecus asked that the N10850 be tested with enterprise-grade WD RE drives. So I thought I'd take the opportunity to see if these more expensive, power-hungry and noisier drives made a difference.
I created four-drive RAID 5 volumes with the RE's and also four WD Red drives for comparison. I ran the complete benchmark suite ten times, to provide an extra measure of averaging for the results.
|WD Red||WD RE||% Diff|
|Win File Copy Write||101.89||105.90||3.8|
|Win File Copy Read||95.09||102.61||7.3|
Table 3: WD RE vs. Red Performance
Table 3 shows the largest performance difference of around 12% was seen in the NASPT Directory Copy From NAS (read) and Content Creation benchmarks. The Directory Copy test reads 236 MB consisting of 2,833 files in 44 folders, while the Content Creation test is 95% writes with a mix of 1k, 4k & little reads with a wide range of mostly sequential writes with file sizes up to 64kB. I thought it was interesting that both these tests had the largest gains, since one was only read and the other mostly writes.
In contrast, the Office Productivity test, which has a balance of reads and writes of smallish files didn't show a similar performance gain.
So the answer to the question is yes, drives can make a difference in this class of NAS. But the gains are highly dependent on how you use the NAS and you might not find the additional cost, power consumption and noise worth the trouble.
Use the NAS Charts to further explore and compare the N10850's performance
To be fair, a NAS as powerful as the N10850 pushes the limits of our NAS test process. To really take the best advantage of a NAS this powerful, you would need to use it with at least aggregated Gigabit NICs, or preferably one of the recommended 10 GbE adapters. And you would probably want to run multi-user benchmarks against it too.
But on the test we did run, the N10850 did not win hands-down, being edged out in many cases by the i3-based QNAP TS-1079 Pro. However, you'll pay about $400 (20%) more for the QNAP's slightly-better performance, which you probably won't notice in real-world use.
If you're in the market for a 10-bay desktop NAS and have around $2,000 to spend, you probably should have the Thecus N10850 on your short list.