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NAS Reviews

{mospagebreak toctitle=Introduction, Inside, Features}

QNAP TS-x20 NAS series

At a Glance
Product NETGEAR ReadyNAS 300 Series [Website]
Summary Dual-core Intel Atom based small-biz NAS family with revamped OS
Pros • Good balance of features, performance, price
• Built-in antivirus
• Cloud based replication, access, drop folder
Cons • Not the fastest for USB attached backup
• Some features not carried into new OS or require Genie Marketplace signup

Introduction

We covered the SOHO members of NETGEAR's new ReadyNAS line in the RN104 and RN102 reviews. This time, it's the mid-range, small-business focused ReadyNAS 300's. Since all members of the family run on the same hardware platform, I'm going to review the whole family at once, using the RN31441E model NETGEAR sent for review.

Each member of the ReadyNAS 300 family is powered by a 2.13 GHz Intel D2700 dual-core Atom CPU mated with 2 GB of DDR3 RAM and 4 MB of flash. Features and port complement are generally the same across the family as the table below shows. The only difference is the number of bays and the lack of status display and only one eSATA port on the two-bay 312.

All three types (2, 4 and 6 bay) are available in diskless versions and an assortment of capacities with your choice of "desktop" or "enterprise" drives; 23 versions in all.

ReadyNAS 300 family key feature table

ReadyNAS 300 family key feature table

The front panel features for the two and four bay models are shown below. Please note the combination eSATA / USB 2.0 port (AKA eSATAp) on the RN314 front panel. This is the first time I've run across this and asked NETGEAR why they included it. They said they wanted two eSATA ports to support two EDA500 expansion chassis and this was the most economical way to do it. (All 300 series models support the EDA500.)

The combo port works; I used it for backup testing. However, mating a USB connector required more care than inserting an eSATA cable.

ReadyNAS 312, 314 front panel callouts

ReadyNAS 312, 314 front panel callouts

The six-bay RN316 gets its own callout diagram to show the display and touchpad on the swing-away cover and the USB 2.0 port behind it.

ReadyNAS 316 front panel callouts

ReadyNAS 316 front panel callouts

The rear panels of the three models are arranged side-by-side below with ports called out. Note the different connector arrangements, indicating different boards in each NAS.

ReadyNAS 300 family rear panel callouts

ReadyNAS 300 family rear panel callouts

Inside

Like the RN104, I had to pretty much disassemble the entire RN314 to get to the board. But the power brick is external and so easily replaced. Fan replacement could be simpler because it is connectorized and on the removable rear panel. But to get the back panel off you need to remove both side covers, which seems an unnecessary complication.

The view below greeted me once I got the top and side covers off. I don't know why NETGEAR made the RAM module easily removable in the RN314. There is nothing in the specs that say RAM is upgradeable.

ReadyNAS 314 view of DRAM SoDIMM

ReadyNAS 314 view of DRAM SoDIMM

The board view below provides a rare glimpse at the companion chip used with the D2700 Atom CPU under the heatsink. The Intel AF82801JIB Intel I/O Controller Hub 10 (ICH10) has six SATA channels. So only the RN316 needs another device to support its six SATA drive bays and two eSATA ports.

ReadyNAS 314 board

ReadyNAS 314 board

Table 2 summarizes key components for the RN300 series.

  RN 300 series
CPU Intel D2700 Atom @ 2.13 GHz
Companion Intel AF82801JIB Intel I/O Controller Hub 10 (Intel ICH10)
RAM 2 GB DDR3
Flash 4 MB
Ethernet Intel WG82574L Gigabit Ethernet Controller (x2)
USB 3.0 NEC D720202
Table 1: Key component summary and comparison

The RN31441E model NETGEAR sent for review came with four Toshiba MG03ACA100 1 TB "enterprise" class drives. Power consumption measured 33 W with all four drives spun up. I couldn't measure power consumption with the drives spun down because idle drive spindown hasn't made it into OS 6 yet. Fan and drive noise were classified as medium-low. Drive and fan noise was audible, but not annoyingly so, in my quiet home office, with the NAS at desk height about two feet away.

Features

See the RN104 review and Craig's in-depth look at OS6. The feature set is the same across all ReadyNASes that support OS6.


Performance - Summaries

6.0.8 firmware was used with our standard NAS test process for testing. As noted earlier, all testing was done on the RN31441E sample. The published RN314 benchmarks used four drives configured in single RAID 0, 5 and 10 volumes. The RN312 tests used two drives in single RAID 0 and 1 volumes. The RN316 data is just a copy of the RN314, since our practice is to test NASes with greater than four bays with only four drives.

Volume rebuild and sync times definitely benefitted from the Atom CPU vs. the Marvell in the RN100's. It took only 3h 24m to build and completely sync a 4 x 1 TB RAID 5 volume and 3h 18m for the same disks configured in RAID 10. The same rebuild / sync times on the RN104 came in at 31h 30m and 18h 30m for RAID 5 and 10, respectively!

Since we have the NAS Ranker, I'll make only a few observations about each benchmark summary. The RN312's below shows equal Windows File Copy read and write performance for both RAID 0 and 1 volumes measuring about 100 MB/s. NASPT file copy performance was also essentially the same between write and read, with writes up at 119 MB/s and reads dropping to the mid-80 MB/s range.

NETGEAR RN312 Benchmark Summary

NETGEAR RN312 Benchmark Summary

Results for the RN314 were again close to 100 MB/s, but showed about 10 MB/s lower throughput for RAID 5 vs. RAID 0 for both Windows file copy and NASPT file copy writes. RAID 10 writes, on the other hand, were about the same as RAID 0 for both benchmark types. Windows file copy writes and reads all were between 91 and 100 MB/s. NASPT file copy writes ranged from 111 to 118 MB/s and reads all stayed in the mid 80 MB/s range.

NETGEAR RN312 Benchmark Summary

NETGEAR RN314 Benchmark Summary

Performance - Ranking

The RN300's are all classed as Atom-2 in the NAS Ranker (dual-core Intel Atom), which is its default view. We need to go to the second page of results before we find the first RN300—the RN312—in the #13 total rank. But among two-bay NASes in this class, the RN312 ranks #3, behind the Iomega px2-300d and QNAP TS-269 Pro.

The Ranker Performance Summary for the RN312 shows higher ranking for RAID 1 vs. RAID 0, a desirable attribute for a RAID 1 device. Looking at the NAS Chart Windows File Copy RAID 1 results for all two-bay devices in this class, the RN312 leads the next-best QNAP TS-269 Pro by 100 MB/s vs. 85 MB/s. The margin for NASPT File Copy write isn't as much, only 5 MB/s.

Those are about the RN312's only strong points, except for a #5 rank for Video Playback and #9 for rsync backup. Attached backup throughput is particularly poor for a product in this class. For an NTFS-formatted drive connected via USB 3.0, the Marvell-powered (SoC-1 class) QNAP TS-220 and TS-221 spank the RN312 soundly with 36 and 48 MB/s backups vs. the RN312's anemic 17 MB/s.

NAS Ranker Performance summary NETGEAR RN312

NAS Ranker Performance summary NETGEAR RN312

Performance - Ranking (more)

The RN314 and RN316 don't do nearly as well as the RN312, tying at #21. This rank has them beating only the older Buffalo TeraStation Pro Quad and ZFS-based Infortrend 500 EonNAS Pro. Perusing the Ranker Performance Summary below, it's hard to eke out any strong points. Its highest rank is 8th for rsync backup (21 MB/s), followed by a few #9 ranks for Video Playback (111 MB/s), RAID 5 Windows File Copy Read and RAID 10 Windows File Copy Read (both 98 MB/s).

NAS Ranker Performance summary NETGEAR RN314

NAS Ranker Performance summary NETGEAR RN314

But it's always good to double-check the Ranker results with a look at the benchmark charts. After flipping through a few of them, a different competitive picture emerges. We find that it's not that the RN314's performance is so bad, but more that there are so many other slightly better products in the ranking.

The RAID 5 File Copy Read chart below is typical, showing the difference between the RN314 and top-of-chart Synology DS1512+ as only 8 MB/s. In contrast, the difference between the lowest-performing Infortrend Eon NAS Pro 500 is 27 MB/s, a much more significant difference!

RAID 5 Windows File Copy Read - Atom-2 class

RAID 5 Windows File Copy Read - Atom-2 class

Performance differences seem most pronounced for mixed read/write and small file handling. The mixed Content Creation benchmark shows the RN314 at only 5 MB/s vs. the top-ranking Synology DS1513+ and 1813+ at 15 MB/s. The gap in the NASPT RAID 5 Directory Copy To NAS (write) benchmark is as broad as it can get with the RN314 at the bottom of the chart with 5 MB/s vs. the Synology DS1513+ / DS1813+ at the top at 21 MB/s.

Conclusion

NETGEAR has packed a lot into the ReadyNAS 300 platform with a revamped user interface, unlimited snapshots, flexible backup and many other features. Unfortunately, chart-topping performance didn't come along for the ride. As noted above, the competition in this class is fierce and the offerings from Synology, QNAP and Thecus just do a better job of tuning for performance.

On the other hand, you'd be hard-pressed to get a four-bay dual-core Atom based NAS that supports an optional expansion cabinet for under $500 or a two-bay for under $400 from those other guys. So if your budget is tight and you still want a good mix of features, performance and the option of future expansion, the ReadyNAS 300 series should stay on your radar.

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