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Updated 2/7/2009: Added link to retest article.
Updated 11/21/2008: Explanatory notes added in Performance sections

Netgear ReadyNAS Pro

At a Glance
Product Netgear ReadyNAS Pro (RNDP6350-100NAS)
Summary Fast, fully-featured, six-drive expensive NAS
Pros • High performance
• Extensive feature set
• Many backup options
• Root shell access
• User-expandable RAM up to 4 GB
Cons • Expensive

Five drives used to be the top end in NASes, established two years ago by Thecus' N5200. This year, QNAP joined Thecus in the five-drive NAS club with its high-performance TS-509 Pro, which, up until now has been the high-end NAS to beat.

Recently, however, NAS makers seem to be in a competition to see who can produce the highest capacity and most expensive NAS. Thecus has announced, but isn't yet shipping, its seven-drive N7700. But the honors for the highest-capacity, currently-shipping NAS go to NETGEAR's six-drive ReadyNAS Pro line, which is the focus of this review.

The Pro line has three current models: the top-of-the-line RNDP6610 loaded with 6 1 TB drives); RNDP6310 (3 x 1 TB); and RNDP6350 (3 x 500 GB). Becoming a member of the Pro club isn't cheap, however, with the entry-level RNDP6350 at around $1700.

The Pro represents a new generation of ReadyNASes, which have until now been powered by proprietary storage processors made by Infrant, the company NETGEAR acquired in May 2007 when it decided to get serious about being a player in the explosively-growing networked storage market.

The Pro line follows what appears to be a trend in high-performance prosumer / small business NASes and uses an Intel-based mini-server platform. This beefier hardware is married to a new version of NETGEAR's RAIDiator OS to produce a fast, full-featured NAS aimed at small-business and anyone else who can afford a $1000+ NAS.

As the product shot above shows, the Pro looks like a (much) larger version of NETGEAR's two-drive Duo, but still relatively compact at 10.0" x 6.7" x 11.2". Both have black metal enclosures with a metal-mesh door that swings open to reveal the drive bays. Figure 1 shows that the six 3.5" hot-swappable SATA drives mount on the same metal drive trays used in the Duo.

ReadyNAS Pro drive bays
Click to enlarge image

Figure 1: ReadyNAS Pro drive bays

The Pro and Duo both have a power switch and USB port and button for the push-button backup feature. But where the Duo has LEDs to indicate status, the Pro has an OLED display. But unlike the LCD status displays on some Thecus NASes, you have no control over what is displayed on the Pro's.

You get status and warning messages at appropriate times. But most of the time you see a display of the Pro's IP address and six small numbered boxes that show the populated drive bays. There's a separate flashing disk activity light that is a bit too faint for my taste.

Figure 2 shows the Pro's rear panel, with nice big case and power supply fans. Both are variable speed and run suprisingly quietly, except for boot-up when they ramp up to full speed before falling back to their normal quiet hum.

ReadyNAS Pro rear panel
Click to enlarge image

Figure 2: ReadyNAS Pro rear panel

There are two USB 2.0 ports that support additional storage, USB printers and USB-enabled UPSes (such as APC). Two 10/100/1000 Ethernet LAN ports support jumbo frames (auto-adjustable up to 9K) and can be configured in a variety of teaming / failover options explained here.

Note that there is no eSATA port for storage expansion, as there is on the Qnap TS-509 Pro and Thecus N5200 Pro. There currently is no support for iSCSI either, although iSCSI Target-only capability will be added after the current Beta test is done.

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