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Wi-Fi Router Charts

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Mesh System Charts

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Figures 2 and 3 show a comparison of all Write and Read benchmark tests respectively for the Mini. It's interesting that the performance for RAID 0 and 1 modes is pretty much the same (once you get beyond the cache effects in smaller filesizes) until you get to the gigabit plus 4k jumbo frame plots. This leads to the conclusion that the LAN speed is the limiting factor for 100 Mbps and 1000 Mbps non-jumbo write performance.

Gigabit write performance

Figure 2: Write benchmark comparison

The read curves are also interesting in that they show RAID 1 performance that is higher than RAID 0!

Gigabit write performance

Figure 3: Read benchmark comparison

As I set up to run the iozone-based tests, I was expecting to see lower performance than the Pro Duo, mainly due to the Mini's use of 2.5" notebook drives running at 5400 RPM, vs. the 3.5", 7200 RPM drives in the Duo. Boy, was I wrong!

Figures 4 and 5 show the Mini compared to a few comparable dual-drive NASes: the Buffalo Pro Duo, Netgear ReadyNAS Duo and D-Link DNS-323. While the Mini (the LS-WS1.0TGL in the plots) lags behind the Netgear and D-Link products, it clearly turns in much better performance then the Buffalo Pro Duo!

RAID 1 Write performance comparison - 1000 Mbps LAN

Figure 4: RAID 1 Write performance comparison - 1000 Mbps LAN

Things are a bit different for reads, however. The Mini actually outperforms all the other products at 256 MB file sizes and larger. At lower filesizes, however, the ReadyNAS Duo outdistances the pack by a much wider margin.

RAID 1 Read performance comparison - 1000 Mbps LAN

Figure 5: RAID 1 Read performance comparison - 1000 Mbps LAN

Closing Thoughts

Buffalo was clearly going for the "Wow!" factor with the Mini, and on that count, they have succeeded. There are a lot of features and performance packed into a very small package that's just so darned cute, too! I'm glad to see Buffalo move in a more competitive direction with the Mini by providing an improvement in performance and a consolidation of features previously spread between its "Live" and "Pro" lines.

If you're trying to decide between the Mini and Buffalo's Pro Duo, the clear choice is the Mini for both performance and features...if price is no object. But given that the Mini is roughly 2X the cost of the Duo, and not the most fully-featured dual-drive NAS around, you might want to explore other options.

Because once you get past the emotional response, you realize that the 1 TB Mini is a very expensive 500 GB RAID 1 NAS with good, but not jaw-dropping, performance and feature set. You could pick up a 500 GB Netgear ReadyNAS Duo for around $380, add a second Seagate ST3500630AS 500 GB drive for around $90 and still be about $130 ahead of the $600+ 1 TB Mini. Although the ReadyNAS Duo isn't as small as the Mini, it's smaller than virtually every other dual-drive NAS and has more features and better performance than the Mini.

Or you could decide to be beguiled by the Mini's charms and just decide to take home the best LinkStation that Buffalo has produced in a long time.

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