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Wi-Fi Router Charts

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Mesh System Charts

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IOzone was used to test the performance of the LinkStation Quad (the full testing setup and methodology are described on this page). The test unit had the latest 1.02 firmware and was tested with 100 Mbps, 1000 Mbps and 1000 Mbps with 4k jumbo LAN connections.  Tests for each configuration were run for both RAID 0 and RAID 5.

Based on the processor and the amount of memory, it comes as no surprise that the Quad comes in near the bottom of the charts.  I compared all four-drive NAS devices with a Gigabit interface and discovered that for 1000 Mbps write performance, the Quad ranked 17th out of 20 with an average throughput of 11.4 MB/sec.  For reference, the top performer on this test was the HP Media Smart Server with a throughput of 67.1 MB/sec

On the 1000 Mbps read tests, however, the Quad’s rankings improved to 13th out of 20 with an average throughput of 20.5 MB/sec. The top performer on this test was the Synology DS408 with an average throughput of 49.3 MB/sec.

Figure 14 shows all of the benchmark test results for file sizes of 32MB and larger. The plotted chart shows test results for RAID 0 and RAID 5 writes with standard and 4K jumbo frames. It’s interesting to note that jumbo frames provided quite a performance improvement for RAID 0 writes. RAID 5 writes with Jumbo frames tracked almost identically with the performance for RAID 0 with the standard frame size. RAID 5 with standard frame sizes turned in the poorest performance.

Benchmark results plus plots of 1000Mbps write performance

Figure 14: Benchmark results plus plots of 1000Mbps write performance

Similarly, Figure 15 shows read performance for the LinkStation Quad with standard and 4K frames sizes for both RAID 0 and RAID 5.  For this test, the performance for RAID 0 and RAID 5 tracked almost identically for 4K jumbo frames.  For standard frame sizes, RAID 0 held a slight edge over RAID 5 except at the 64 MB file size.  For all tests, for file sizes greater than 128 MB, performance was fairly consistent.  The larger file sizes in excess of the memory size of the NAS eliminate any caching advantages seen with smaller file sizes. 

LinkStation Quad large file performance results with 1000Mbps LAN connection

Figure 15: LinkStation Quad large file performance results with 1000Mbps LAN connection

For the competitive comparison, I chose the Buffalo TeraStation Pro II, the Thecus N4100 Pro and the D-Link DNS-343 4-Bay Network Storage Enclosure.  For this comparison, I also decided to look at the RAID 5 read and write performance charts, as RAID 5 is the default configuration for most four drive NAS products. 

Figure 16 shows 1000 Mbps RAID 5 Write performance with standard frame sizes.  For this comparison, the LinkStation Quad is consistently at the bottom of the pack.  In fact, with this performance, there’s not much of an advantage to having Gigabit Ethernet since the throughput is less than the theoretical 12.5 MBps of 100 Mbps Ethernet.

Comparative 1000 Mbps RAID 5 Write Performance

Figure 16: Comparative 1000 Mbps RAID 5 Write Performance

Figure 17 compares the same products for 1000 Mbps RAID 5 read performance.  Here the LinkStation Quad actually outperforms the TeraStation II Pro for file sizes of 128 MB and larger.  Again, note the straight line performance at file sizes starting at 128 MB.

Comparative 1000 Mbps RAID 5 Read Performance

Figure 17: Comparative 1000 Mbps RAID 5 Read Performance

Of course, you can run your own comparisons using the NAS Charts.

Closing Thoughts

With benchmark test results near the bottom of the charts, performance isn’t the reason you’d buy a LinkStation Quad.  The main reason to buy the Quad is price.  Available online for as little as $363, the fully populated 1TB four drive NAS is quite a bargain.  Since it supports RAID 5, you get more usable, fault tolerant storage space than with a two drive 1TB NAS. 

For the consumer NAS buyer, the Quad has a reasonable set of features including a DLNA media server, Bittorrent client, FTP server and remote Web access. And, of course, Mac users will like the Time Machine feature. 

Other four drive NAS products such as the Synology DS408 or QNAP’s TS-409 Pro offer many more features including a web server, photo sharing, secure FTP, better performance and better logging.  However, those products, without drives, sell for significantly more—sometimes more than double— than the price of the Quad.

As with the TeraStation Pro II, I was somewhat disappointed in the RAID capabilities of the LinkStation Quad.  While I place less emphasis on “hot swappable” drives for SOHO NAS products, I think that the RAID rebuilding process should be better documented. Still, the LinkStation Quad did rebuild the RAID array without any apparent data loss— despite what the alert emails indicated.

While the LinkStation Quad didn’t even break into the top half of the NAS Charts for four drive NAS products, in many environments, performance might not be a significant factor.  (For backups that are run in the middle of the night, for example.)  With low pricing and Buffalo’s excellent US-based 7 X 24 tech support, the LinkStation Quad takes away your excuse for not having fault-tolerant storage on your network.

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