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Performance - Competitive Comparison

Although the Pro manages to come in near the top of many of the RAID 5 charts, a look at the performance vs. filesize plots shows that average numbers don't tell the real story. Figure 13 is a comparison of RAID 5 write performance with a gigabit LAN connection for the Pro, Thecus N5200, Synology DS508 and Intel SS4200-E.

Figure 13 shows that the 5200 Pro is bested by the Intel SS4200-E at the 32 MB and 64 MB file sizes. You do, however, see higher throughput from the Pro than from the original 5200 for filesized from 128 MB on up. But the Intel is better than or equal to the Pro at all tested file sizes.

Competitive comparison - RAID 5 write, 1000 Mbps 4k jumbo LAN

Figure 13: Competitive comparison - RAID 5 write, 1000 Mbps 4k jumbo LAN

Figure 14 compares RAID 5 read performance under the same conditions for the same set of products and has some interesting results. The Synology DS508 actually does the best with smaller file sizes, but falls pretty much to last place for the 512 MB and 1 GB files. The original 5200 actually does better than the Pro up to 128 MB, but then swaps places for the larger files.

Competitive comparison - RAID 5 read, 1000 Mbps 4k jumbo LAN

Figure 14: Competitive comparison - RAID 5 read, 1000 Mbps 4k jumbo LAN

Results like these once again point out how dependent NAS performance is on file sizes (among other factors).

Closing Thoughts

When the 5200 appeared almost two years ago, it was ahead of its time in terms of both performance and features. But the competition has not been standing still, particularly when it comes to improving performance.

Thecus seems to have focused more on adding features to the Pro, such as iSCSI support, multiple RAID and iSCSI "stacking", to support its intended "Enterprise" target customer. But while the Pro's performance still ranks among the best RAID 5 NASes available, Thecus has not given it a performance boost to match its improvement in features.

The N5200 Pro will still appeal primarily to business users comfortable with configuring iSCSI targets and for whom the lack of an attractive, user-friendly interface won't be a deterrent. However, it's still not a NAS for the mainstream consumer, an observation that I think Thecus would agree with. Fortunately, Thecus has plenty of other options for those buyers and I'll be looking at a few of them in the months to come.

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