NAS units targeting home consumers have traditionally been underpowered in terms of hardware as well as firmware features. Low power, reduced cost and media-centric features are primary requirements in this area. Intel has traditionally been loath to participate in this market segment, probably due to the obvious lack of high margins. However, the explosive growth potential in the consumer / SOHO NAS market has made Intel rethink its strategy.

The Atom CE5300 series was initially introduced as the Berryville set-top-box platform in March 2012. Almost a year later, the CE5300 series was re-launched in its Evansport avatar as a storage solution targeting home consumers (in particular, as a media server platform). Asustor, Synology and Thecus were touted as partners building NAS units based on this platform. We have already looked at the 2-bay Evansport model from Thecus, the N2560. How does the platform perform when scaled up to 4-bays? The Asustor AS-304T gives us a chance to find out.

Asustor places their two Evansport models under the 'Home to Power Users' category. Both of them are based on the Intel CE5335 CPU, and come with 1 GB of RAM. The specifications of the review unit are as below.

Asustor AS-304T Specifications
Processor Intel Evansport CE5335 (2C/4T Atom (Bonnell) CPU @ 1.6 GHz)
Drive Bays 4x 3.5 / 2.5" SATA HDD / SSD (Hot-swappable)
Network Links 1x 1 GbE
USB Slots 2x USB 3.0, 2x USB 2.0
eSATA Slots None
Expansion Slots None
VGA / Display Out HDMI / 3.5mm Audio Jack
Full Specifications Link Asustor AS-304T Specifications
Retail Price $478

In the rest of the review, we will cover the hardware aspects of the AS-304T and provide some setup and usage impressions. This is followed by benchmarks in single and multi-client modes. For single client scenarios, we have both Windows and Linux benchmarks with CIFS and NFS shares. We will also have some performance numbers with encryption enabled. In the final section, power consumption numbers as well as RAID rebuild times will be covered along with some closing notes.

Testbed Setup and Testing Methodology

Our NAS reviews use either SSDs or hard drives depending on the unit under test. While rackmounts and units equipped with 10GbE capabilities use SSDs, the others use hard drives. The Asustor AS-304T was evaluated using four WD Re (WD4000FYYZ) drives to keep comparisons consistent across different NAS units. Evaluation of NAS performance under both single and multiple client scenarios was done using the SMB / SOHO NAS testbed we described earlier.

AnandTech NAS Testbed Configuration
Motherboard Asus Z9PE-D8 WS Dual LGA2011 SSI-EEB
CPU 2 x Intel Xeon E5-2630L
Coolers 2 x Dynatron R17
Memory G.Skill RipjawsZ F3-12800CL10Q2-64GBZL (8x8GB) CAS 10-10-10-30
OS Drive OCZ Technology Vertex 4 128GB
Secondary Drive OCZ Technology Vertex 4 128GB
Tertiary Drive OCZ RevoDrive Hybrid (1TB HDD + 100GB NAND)
Other Drives 12 x OCZ Technology Vertex 4 64GB (Offline in the Host OS)
Network Cards 6 x Intel ESA I-340 Quad-GbE Port Network Adapter
Chassis SilverStoneTek Raven RV03
PSU SilverStoneTek Strider Plus Gold Evoluion 850W
OS Windows Server 2008 R2
Network Switch Netgear ProSafe GSM7352S-200

Thank You!

We thank the following companies for helping us out with our NAS testbed:

Hardware Aspects & Usage Impressions
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  • CalaverasGrande - Friday, March 28, 2014 - link

    For my presonal NAS I simply can't afford to pay for the amount of backup that would entail. Instead I replicate the core of the data between two units at different locations.
    The stuff that I work with/use on a regular basis is not replicated. If I did it would replicate accidental deletions and changes.
    I'm working on getting some of my friends and family on board with this arrangement so that we are replicating each others data. Hence preserving it in case of theft fire or disaster.
  • freespace303 - Tuesday, April 1, 2014 - link

    Have you heard of Backblaze? Unlimited backup for $5 a month. I heard about it on a TwiCH podcast.
  • patu - Thursday, March 27, 2014 - link

    What mount options did CentOS use? Distro can change the default mount options.
  • Hrel - Thursday, April 3, 2014 - link

    Can someone please explain to me why all NAS enclosures that have more than 2 bays are SO expensive? I mean, for $500 I can build a full power desktop and just install FreeNAS on it. At the same time I can buy a 2-bay NAS spec'd like this one for around $100. Then make the case twice as large and the price jumps up $400?!?! I am thoroughly confused by this phenomena.

    Shouldn't a 4 bay enclosure be, at most, $200?

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