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Performance

The N4200 was tested with 3.05.02.2 firmware using our latest Revision 4 NAS test process. The firmware was released just last week and contains a fix for a write cache performance issue that I found using the new Intel NASPT-based test process.

Thecus shipped the N4200 with a mix of Seagate drives: three Barracuda 7200.10 80 GB (ST380815AS); and one Barracuda 7200.11 500 GB (ST3500320AS). Tests runs were made with all four drives configured in RAID 0, 5 and 10 volumes using a 1000 Mbps LAN connection.

The new Benchmarks NAS Chart feature was used to generate the benchmark summary for the N4200 shown in Figure 8.

N4200 NAS Benchmark summary

Figure 8: N4200 NAS Benchmark summary

The Windows and NASPT File Copy tests that are a good indicator of large file (> 1 GB) sequential transfer performance correlated reasonably well. The Windows-based File Copy produced 76 MB/s RAID 5 writes and reads, while the NASPT-based file copy tests clocked in at 76 and 70 MB/s for write and read respectively.

iSCSI target performance was very high. Using the Windows file copy method to a 10 GB target created on a RAID 5 volume, I measured 97 MB/s write and 78 MB/s read.

I was able to use Thecus' USBCopy module to run backup tests with our standard Iomega UltraMax Pro Desktop Hard Drive. It seems that NTFS is also now supported for write and read to attached drives along with FAT and EXT3. But since Thecus doesn't provide a way to format external drives, I was able to test only FAT and NTFS backup formats with the Iomega drive connected via USB 2.0 and eSATA. Best backup throughput of 42.7 MB/s was obtained with FAT format and eSATA connection.

My successful backup to the NAS Testbed running DeltaCopy acting as an rsync target was slower than the eSATA / FAT attached backup, yielding only 35 MB/s of backup throughput.

I attached a 1 TB WD MyBook 3.0 drive, hoping to see whether backup to it would be faster than to the eSATA-connected Iomega drive. But despite reboots and a few plug / unplug cycles, I could not get the N4200 to recognize the drive, which was formatted as a single NTFS volume. I even tried connecting the WD drive to one of the N4200's USB 2.0 ports, but it still wasn't recognized.

To see how the N4200 fares against other four-drive NASes, I ran RAID 5 Windows Write (Figure 9) and Read (Figure 10) File copy charts.

N4200 RAID 5 File Copy performance comparison - write

Figure 9: N4200 RAID 5 File Copy performance comparison - write

Both charts show that the N4200 lags behind the two other four-drive D510 Atom NASes I've tested, Cisco's NSS324 and its QNAP TS-459 Pro twin, more significantly for read than write.

N4200 RAID 5 File Copy performance comparison - read

Figure 10: N4200 RAID 5 File Copy performance comparison - read

Use the NAS Charts to further explore performance.

Closing Thoughts

The N4200's USB 3.0 ports and internal battery backup make it unique among today's NAS crop. But in the all-important performance department, the N4200 falls behind at least Cisco and QNAP's four-bay D510 Atom offerings.

If you are really on a tight budget and have to have a D510 Atom NAS, the N4200 will save you about $150 versus a QNAP and more vs. a Cisco. At least in this instance, however, reduced price brings reduced performance.

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