New To The Charts: LG N4B1 Super Multi NAS w/ Blu-ray Rewriter

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Tim Higgins

The N4B1 is a four-bay BYOD NAS that can take 3.5" SATA drives up to 2 TB. Supported volume configurations include JBOD, RAID 0, 1, 5 and 10. Multiple volumes are supported with online RAID expansion and RAID level migration. The four hot-swappable drives are mounted in metal trays and neither the trays nor front cover are physically lockable.

The hardware design is somewhat dated and similar to the Buffalo TeraStation Pro II, D-Link DNS-343 and LaCie 5big network, using a Marvell 88F5281 Feroceon SoC and 128 MB of RAM with a single Gigabit Ethernet LAN port that supports 4, 7 and 9K jumbo frames.

The N4B1’s hardware advantages over these three competitors include three USB 2.0 ports, one eSATA port, an SD,MMC,MS,xD card reader and, of most notably, a built-in Blu-ray rewriter. The USB ports can be used for printer sharing, UPS synchronization and backup to/from USB storage devices. But neither USB nor eSATA storage can be shared or used for storage expansion.

Power consumption with four Seagate ST31000340AS 1 TB drives measured 42 W active and 11 W witih the drives spun down. Fan noise from the single 3.5" fan was very low and minimal drive noise made the N4B1 surprisingly quiet for a four-bay NAS.

CIFS/SMB and AFP network file systems are supported, but NFS is not. Files can also be accessed via FTP. But HTTPS is not supported for admin access and neither are SSH or telnet.

The only media-related feature is an iTunes server.

NAS backup is primarily dependent on the Blu-ray rewriter, with daily, weekly and monthly scheduling frequency. Scheduled network backup via rsync has been added in the latest 2898 firmware. But neither USB nor eSATA attached drives can be used for backup.

The N4B1 turned in an average RAID 5 write performance using a Gigabit Ethernet connection of 26.8 MB/s for file sizes between 32 MB and 4 GB, with cached behavior not included in the average calculation. Average RAID 5 read performance was slightly lower, measuring 26.2 MB/s with the same conditions.

File copy performance using a Vista SP1 client under the same conditions (RAID 5, Gigabit LAN) measured significantly lower for write at 11.7 MB/s, but about the same for read at 26.6 MB/s. Both results ranked the N4B1 last or next-to-last in the RAID 5 File Copy charts.

We found problems with network disconnection during long reads with 4K jumbo frames enabled and very long RAID 5 and 10 volume creation and resync times (around 28 hours for a 4 TB RAID 10 array). There is also currently no U.S. online support site for the product. LG said that it is working on these issues and intends to have them resolved soon. So we are holding the full review for a few weeks to see if LG makes good on its intentions.

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