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The N7700PRO was tested with our standard NAS test process with 3.01.01 firmware and seven Seagate Barracuda XT 2 TB drives. Tests were run with 1000 Mbps and 1000 Mbps w/ 4K jumbo frame LAN connections.

Due to reader feedback, I tested with all seven drives configured into single RAID 0 and 5 volumes, instead of using only four drives. RAID 10 volumes can only be configured with an even number of drives, so I used six drives for those tests. Due to the > 8 TB volume size, I used XFS instead of EXT3 to format all the volumes.

Figure 7 presents a summary of the iozone-based benchmark tests run for the PRO. The cache boost dropoff point tended to move around for all three volume types among the three runs that I do for each test. But once caching effects die down, it's remarkable that for all three modes and both read and write, performance settles into the mid-to-high 60 MB/s range.

So Write performance with a 1000 Mbps LAN connection averaged over the 32 MB to 4 GB file sizes and with cached results above 125 MB/s removed from the average measured 77, 64.9 and 66.1 MB/s for RAID 0, 5 and 10 writes, respectively. These results have the PRO being soundly beaten by less-expensive four and five drive products like the QNAP TS-459 Pro and Synology DS1010+.

Read results were similar, coming in at 69.4, 71.6 and 71.9 MB/s for RAID 0, 5 and 10 writes, respectively.

Performance benchmark summary

Figure 7: Performance benchmark summary

These results seemed rather low for a product that could be equipped with a 10 GbE interface, so I went back to Thecus to check them. After a few months of back-and-forth, Thecus finally came back with the explanation that their testing—and performance claims—are based on tests done with Iometer and Intel's NAS Performance Toolkit.

They didn't say that they achieved results similar to mine using iozone, however, only that they needed to do more work with it. They did send the test results shown in Table 1 to show that the PRO can indeed make good use of its optional 10 GbE LAN interface. I was not able to verify these claims since the SNB test bed does not have a PCIe x8 slot to install the NIC they sent. (A list of compatible 10 GbE NICs is here.)

Write 501.18 MB/s 476.21 MB/s
Read 559.73 MB/s 546.72 MB/s
Test System:
- Super Micro SYS-7046T-H6R
- CPU : 2 x QuadCore Intel Xeon E5540
- RAM:12GB (DDR III - 1333) Hynix HMT125R7AFP8C-H9 2GB x 6
- OS : Windows 7 Professional 64Bit
- 2xHDD RAID0 ATA Hitachi HDT72103 SCSI Disk Device (298 GB) X 2

- Firmware Version: 3.02.01
- Seven Seagate 320GB
Table 1: Thecus N7700PRO test results using 10 GbE interface - Thecus provided

Performance - File Copy

Lest you think that the N7700PRO can't really deliver the goods in the speed department, just take a look at the Vista SP1 file copy results in Figure 8. This test is more of a real-world representation of the performance you'll get with Vista and Win 7, assuming that you have a fast enough client.

Vista SP1 File Copy - RAID 5 write

Figure 8: Vista SP1 File Copy - RAID 5 write

The N7700PRO beats everything else on the chart by over 10 MB/s with a chart-topping 102.4 MB/s. RAID 5 filecopy read also has the PRO at the top with 101 MB/s. RAID 10 is even a bit better, coming in at 106.2 MB/s for write and 103 for read!

Finally, iSCSI target read and write were tested using a RAID 10 volume and yielded 95.9 MB/s for write and 91.8 for read, earning the PRO top chart spot for write and third place for read.

Use the NAS Charts to further explore performance.

Closing Thoughts

The N7700PRO is after the server-replacement market that QNAP is pursuing with its TS-8XX series, Synology with its DS1010+ and DX510 Expansion Chassis and NETGEAR with its ReadyNAS 3200 and 4200. So it's not going to be on the average small and even not-so-small networker's shopping list.

I haven't tested the ReadyNASes (and probably won't, given their wallet-busting price points). But the N7700PRO outperforms the Synology for file copy duties and writes to it as an iSCSI target, and essentially ties it for iSCSI reads. So the PRO looks like a more cost-effective way to go than the DS1010+ and DX510 expansion chassis combo, if you want a lot of storage in a relatively compact desktop package.

Thecus is making steady progress at closing the software gap with its competition. The new V3 firmware is its best version yet, although still a bit rough around the edges. But you can finally try it yourself via an online demo. The demo is for the N5500, but all the features are the same since it's currently running the same 3.01.01 version that I tested on the N7700PRO.

The other area where Thecus continues to lag is in support. It still comes across as disjointed (why are there two forums, with the more active one being the "Third party" forum instead of the company?) and amateurish (the company Forum is "I Love Thecus"...really?). And you still get the feeling that Thecus wants you file a ticket instead of giving them a call, since there is still no phone number listed on the Tech Support landing page. (It's on the page where you file a ticket, in a box at the bottom of the page.)

Bargain-hunting consumers might be ok with this. But if I'm going to buy a product that my business depends on, I'm going to make sure that I can get problems fixed, pronto! And that means readily-available phone support, good Forums and meaty knowledge base articles. The N7700PRO may be a damned-fast big box o' storage. But for business buyers, that's only one part of what they're looking for.

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