Updated 10/20/2010 – The Buffalo LinkStation Pro LS-V1.0TL has been added to the NAS Charts.
Buffalo is refreshing its LinkStation line with faster Marvell Kirkwood-series SoCs and dubbing it the "V-series". But, like other manufacturers, Buffalo is letting the model number do the differentiation and keeping the same name.
As the product photo below shows, however, the new Pro carries a sporty "V" badge on its front. For the sake of clarity, I’ll refer to it as the "VL".
There’s not much to see when you first open the VL (not terribly difficult considering that the drive isn’t user-replaceable), aside from the Seagate Barracuda 7200.12 SATA 3Gb/s 1TB drive (ST31000528AS). I imagine that the 2 TB VL has a 2 TB version of this same drive.
To identify the board components, I had to remove the assembly from the case, remove the hard drive, then unscrew the board from its metal bracket. Once freed, the metal-encased Marvell 88F6282A0C160 SoC was revealed. The 6282 is a newer member of Marvell’s Kirkwood family, clocked at 1.6 GHz. It’s also known as the ARMADA 300.
The new SoC must run a bit hotter, because the metal case was thermally-coupled to the metal chassis bracket via a thermal pad. The other main devices are 256 MB of Hynix DDR3 RAM, 512 KB of flash and a Marvell 88E1318 Gigabit Ethernet chip.
Power consumption measured 10 W, which
probably drops to around 4 W when any of the programmable four sleep periods kicks in. Buffalo still hasn’t provided an idle drive spindown feature, however. if you run the little app that Buffalo requires to kick the drive into standby mode. I really wish they would implement a simple user-programmable idle spindown time instead of their silly power-saving system. The single small fan started out running quietly. But the fan sped up after the VL was on for awhile and became clearly audible in my quiet office.
I tested the VL with its factory-installed 1.36 firmware using our latest Revision 4 NAS test process. We’ve enhanced the Benchmarks feature from the old iozone-based charts so that you can now compare the results of all the non-iozone benchmarks for a single product in one view. The results for the VL are shown below.
I’m still getting used to the relatively low throughput results of the NASPT Directory File Copy benchmarks. This new test copies multiple folders with files of varying sizes to and from the NAS and certainly gives them a workout! The VL didn’t even break 2 MB/s write and read on this tough test.
The Windows and NASPT file copy tests use larger files and are a good indicator of sequential transfer performance, as you’d get moving large video files around. The Windows-based test showed 40 MB/s write and 67 MB/s read, while the NASPT file copies came in at 13 MB/s write and 61 MB/s read.
You’ll see a couple of backup to USB attached drive tests in the Benchmark summary, which came in at 12 – 14 MB/s, about half the maximum USB 2.0 backup speed I’ve seen on other products.
To see how the VL fares against other single-drive NASes, I ran Windows Write and Read File copy charts. For write, the VL compares favorably against Marvell 1.2 GHz 6281 Kirkwood-based products, like the QNAP-TS119 and Synology DS109, all of which tested around 40 MB/s.
File copy read results show a similar clustering, although the QNAP breaks out of the pack slightly at 71 MB/s vs. the VL’s 67 MB/s. But I doubt you’d see much difference between any of these three products in real-world use.
The VL is a slight step up from the old LinkStation Pro (LS-XHL) it replaces, which hit only 33 MB/s write and 57 MB/s read.
Given the faster processor, I would have expected more of a performance difference from the VL vs. 1.2 Ghz Kirwood products. But perhaps the difference is more on the cost side, since the 1 TB VL (LS-V1.0TL) sells for around $180, while the TS-119 and DS109 currently sell for $260 (!) and $200, respectively, without drives.
Since the VL’s feature set and admin GUI haven’t undergone any significant changes since our last full Buffalo review, there won’t be a full review. Use the NAS Charts to further explore and compare the VL’s performance and check out the LinkStation Pro VL product page.