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Performance - File Copy

Vista SP1 1000 Mbps file copy write results in Figure 11 provide another view into the competitive rankings. I filtered the chart to show single-drive products only, since the LX195 will produce the results shown only when using its internal drive. The LX195 easily beats all the other products with 67.3 MB/s write speed.

1000 Mbps LAN Vista SP1 File Copy Write

Figure 13: 1000 Mbps LAN Vista SP1 File Copy Write

Figure 12 shows the 1000 Mbps File Copy read rankings where the LX195 once again is at the top of the single-drive pack with 86.3 MB/s.

1000 Mbps LAN Vista SP1 File Copy Read

Figure 12: 1000 Mbps LAN Vista SP1 File Copy Read

Use the NAS Charts to further explore performance.

Closing Thoughts

Editorial note:
This is a review of HP's LX915 MediaSmart Server, which uses a Windows Home Server operating system, and not a review of Windows Home Server.

HP and Microsoft have chosen to not expose all of the wonderfulness of WHS in the Windows Home Server Console and have even implemented an add-in mechanism to enhance the product without requiring RDPing into the WHS desktop. So we're treating RDPing into WHS as we would having root access to a Linux-based NASes.

We're noting whether it can be done (it can) and that it can be used to enhance the capabilities of the product (it can). But since HP neither documents nor supports RDP management of its product, we don't consider any features accessible solely via RDP to be part of the LX195.

If you have been thinking about going for a Windows Home Server based NAS, the LX195 is designed to remove (or at least reduce) concerns about it being more expensive than open source based competitors. By removing the overhead required to support multiple internal drives, HP has been able to bring the LX195 in at street pricing close to $350, which includes about 575 GB of usable storage.

Figure 13 shows that the LX195 sits in a class by itself when compared with other single-drive diskful and diskless NASes. Note that you would have to add $70 for a 640 GB WD Caviar Blue drive to the Synology and QNAP products shown for a fairer price comparison, which would push those products further to the right.

Price vs. performance - Vista SP1 write file copy - 1000 Mbps LAN

Figure 13: Price vs. performance - Vista SP1 write file copy - 1000 Mbps LAN
Updated 5/13/2009: Changing RAM and drive will not void warranty.

But before you pull the trigger, consider that once your file storage needs outstrip the available storage, things get a bit complicated. One way to go would be to install a larger drive. which not only requires backing up and restoring all your data, but also voiding your warranty This would provide the highest performance, however, which brings me to the second, and perhaps the most significant weakness of the LX195.

I said earlier that I thought that the omission of the eSATA port, which is present on the EX485/487 was a mistake. The reason is that when the 195 has to access USB-connected drives in real time, throughput is going to drop to, at best, around 20 MB/s. Real time access isn't required for local file duplication, which affords some protection against drive failure. But if the only available primary storage space is on a USB drive, you're not going to get 70 - 80 MB/s reading and writing to it.

I wanted to back this up with actual test results, but WHS doesn't let you control where files and folders physically reside. But while I was able to add USB storage easily, I wasn't able to create a folder (and consequently a network share) that physically resided on that drive.

If HP had provided an eSATA port, this wouldn't be as much of an issue, since eSATA has much higher bandwidth. As a point of reference, when I tested the Iomega UltraMax Pro Desktop Hard Drive on my NAS test bed, I measured write speeds to a RAID 0 volume of around 23 MB/s using USB and 111 MB/s using eSATA.

Although the Atom wouldn't be able to drive data to and from the eSATA port that quickly, it would certainly be able to do better than the 20 MB/s available via USB 2.0. As another point of reference, testing with Atom-based QNAP TS-639 Pro produced around 48 MB/s to a FAT32 formatted, eSATA-connected drive.

Other than that, the LX195 should help HP (and Microsoft) expand Windows Home Server's footprint in the consumer NAS marketplace.

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