Original URL: http://www.theregister.co.uk/2012/11/17/ten_four_bay_nas_drives/

Ten four-bay NAS boxes

Made for sharing

By Shaun Dormon

Posted in Hardware, 17th November 2012 08:00 GMT

Product Round-up The storage needs of home users are ever growing, such that the capacity of dual-layer DVDs appears miniscule, and backing up CD looks desperate. Many are now turning to network accessible storage systems that not only allow data storage in the home, but also provide HTTP, FTP and cloud services for when you’re on the go. The NAS boxes on test here all provide this functionality in addition to the likes of BitTorrent clients and DLNA media streaming.

Some NAS devices on are only available unpopulated (no disks) while others are equipped with multiple high capacity drives – so don't be fooled by any extreme price differences here. The NAS boxes supplied empty were tested with four Seagate Barracuda ST3000DM001 3TB drives. For purposes of benchmarking with CrystalDiskMark, all units were configured in RAID 0, although most support a full complement of RAID levels.

Buffalo LinkStation Pro Quad

RH Numbers

For a while now I've considered Buffalo’s LinkStation product line as a decent, safe option that represents the baseline for what a good NAS box should offer. The LinkStation Pro Quad is no exception to this notion, with both sequential reads and writes sitting between 50-60MB/s. The LinkStation interface can seem a little sluggish at times, but it has plenty of features and good support for smartphone access to multimedia files.

The only real downside is that it is somewhat noisy. This is a minor inconvenience though, and certainly not a reason to pass on what is otherwise a very proficient NAS box situated at the entry level of the 4-bay world.

Buffalo LinkStation Pro Quad 4-bay NAS drive

Reg Rating 70%
Price £430 (4TB), £730 (8TB), £910 (12TB)
More info Buffalo

Buffalo TeraStation Pro

RH Numbers

While the LinkStation may be the bread and butter of NAS boxes, the TeraStation Pro Quad is up at the other end of the spectrum. With a 1.66GHz dual-core Intel Atom D510 CPU and 2GB of RAM, it is a capable computing platform in its own right. Performance options such as USB 3.0 and dual gigabit LAN ports come as standard at this level and all that oomph really shows in the benchmarks – Crystal DiskMark had this one writing at 100MB/s both randomly and sequentially.

If I were to point to any shortcomings with the TeraStation, then it has to be that it runs the same OS as found in the LinkStation. While it’s not too bad an experience, I have to say that at this performance and price point, I’d expect it to be quite a bit slicker.

Buffalo TeraStation Pro 4-bay NAS drive

Reg Rating 80%
Price £1090 (4TB), £1360 (8TB)
More info Buffalo

D-Link ShareCentre Quattro DNS-345

RH Numbers

For its 4-bay NAS entry, D-Link offered up the DNS-345 version of the ShareCentre Quattro, which features an OLED screen displaying useful information such as volume status and SMART temperature readouts. With twin gigabit LAN ports it just about edges out the LinkStation Pro Quad on the hardware front. Yet despite this – and it’s higher price tag – I found performance to be about the same.

Cloud support is much better though, with both MyD-LinkCloud and Amazon S3 on the feature list. If this is the kind of thing you’re after it can also be found unpopulated for under £300.

D-Link ShareCentre Quattro DNS-345 4-bay NAS drive

Reg Rating 65%
Price £290 (Unpopulated), £700 (4TB), £815 (8TB)
More info D-Link

Iomega StorCenter PX4-300D

RH Numbers

Iomega's StorCenter PX4-300D has a price that hints that this is a model aimed more at business users. With a 1.8GHz dual-core Intel Atom D525 chip and 2GB of RAM it doesn't lack power. It's well connected too, with twin gigabit LAN ports, as well as USB 3.0.

Behind all of this though is EMC's LifeLine software which is certified for use in many enterprise virtualization environments. With it, as well as the usual cloud backup support, LifeLine also comes with Iomega Personal Cloud; allowing users to create their own cloud network and to link multiple StorCenter devices into the cloud for off-site access and backup. It's the most expensive unpopulated NAS box here, yet puts in a respectable rather than stellar performance.

Iomega StorCenter PX4-300D 4-bay NAS drive

Reg Rating 80%
Price £682 (Unpopulated), £982 (4TB), £1222 (8TB), £1462 (12TB)
More info Iomega

Netgear ReadyNAS NV+ V2

RH Numbers
RH Recommended Medal

As far as grey metal boxes go, Netgear has crammed a lot of features into this one. The NV+ has both USB 2.0 on the front and USB 3.0 around back as well as a Marvell 1.6GHz CPU with 256MB of RAM inside. This 2TB model came with two Hitachi 1TB HDS721010 disks and achieved scores in the 60-70MB/s range under Crystal DiskMark.

The web accessible user interface is well designed and very straighforward to use. This makes it an easy device to manage, no matter if you're just creating a backup task, setting rules for an individual user or hosting your own personal website. An unpopulated model comes in at well under £300 – half this price if you shop around on-line – and given its flexibility and user friendliness, despite having only one Ethernet port, I'd still be inclined to choose this model over the D-Link DNS-345.

Netgear ReadyNAS NV+ V2 4-bay NAS drive

Reg Rating 85%
Price £270 (Unpopulated), £560 (2TB), £620 (4TB)
More info Netgear

QNAP TS-419P II

RH Numbers

QNAP’s TS-419P II is a very capable high-end NAS box that brings with it such things as front loading hotswappable drives and dual eSATA ports. Both USB 2.0 and 3.0 are also at this party as well as an LCD screen to convey the system status. Controlling this lot is a 2.0GHz Marvell 88F6282 chip with 512MB of DDR3, a combination that is capable of pushing data through the twin LAN ports between 60-70MB/s.

It’s not the fastest of systems, but the software feature list is too extensive to cover, suffice to say, that you won’t be disappointed with what it has to offer and Mac users will benefit from QNAP's support of Apple's HFS+ format on external drives.

QNAP TS-419P II 4-bay NAS drive

Reg Rating 80%
Price £429 (unpopulated)
More info QNAP

QNAP TS-412

RH Numbers

The TS-412 is essentially a clone of the TS-419P II, sans the LCD and lacking in USB 3.0 support. It’s still Marvell powered though, with a 88F6281 chip running at 1.2GHz keeping things in order with its 256MB of DDR2. eSATA and dual gigabit Ethernet are still here as well as all of the software perks of sharing the QNAP OS.

As for performance, you’re looking at mid-50MB/s, which puts it between the Netgear NV+ V2 and the D-Link DNS-345 in the sub-£300 unpopulated bracket. If you don’t mind losing 10MB/s in favour of more software features, then this is a strong contender.

QNAP TS-412 4-bay NAS drive

Reg Rating 75%
Price £269 (unpopulated)
More info QNAP

Synology DiskStation DS412+

RH Numbers
RH Editor's Choice

Topping the class in performance today is the DS412+, with a dual-core 2.13GHz Intel Atom D2700 CPU and 1GB of DDR3 this is hardly surprising. There’s an array of connectivity options including USB 3.0, eSATA and dual gigabit LAN. To complement all of this is Synology’s fantastic DiskStation Manager operating system, which is by far and away the best designed NAS OS out there.

In addition to standard RAID levels, these servers also support Synology Hybrid Raid, which makes expanding volumes with new disks a much less painful experience. As far as unpopulated systems go, it’s a little on the pricey side, but it’s worth it.

Synology DiskStation DS412+ 4-bay NAS drive

Reg Rating 95%
Price £509 (unpopulated)
More info Synology

Synology DiskStation DS411j

RH Numbers

At the bottom of Synology’s 4-bay NAS lineup is the DS411j. Although it still runs the same great DiskStation Manager software, the hardware isn’t of the same calibre. A Marvell 1.2GHz 88F6281 CPU and 128MB of DDR2 will put you in the low 50MB/s region for both read and write operations.

Yet at less than £300, you get almost every RAID level under the sun and Synology Hybrid RAID. Unfortunately there’s no USB 3.0, but this model does support sound output to USB speakers over 2.0. So as a contender in the sub-£300 sector it falls into the 'great software but a bit slow' category.

Synology DiskStation DS411j 4-bay NAS drive

Reg Rating 70%
Price £269 (unpopulated)
More info Synology

Thecus N4800

RH Numbers
RH Recommended Medal

If it’s hardware features you want then look no further. Like the Synology DS412+, the N4800 features a dual-core 2.13GHz Intel Atom D2700 CPU with 2GB RAM, yet boasts every interface you could ever need along with HDMI, VGA and stereo audio outputs to connect straight up to your TV or monitor. It is also unique in being the only NAS box featured here to have a removable lithium ion battery backup – a mini UPS for those who live on the flakier parts of the grid.

Not only does Thecus include useful software to run on the N4800 such as Twonky Media Server, but it also throws in a copy of Acronis True Image to assist you with backing up your computers. While not the cheapest four-bay NAS on test here, you certainly do get your money's worth with the Thecus N4800.

Thecus N4800 4-bay NAS drive

Reg Rating 90%
Price £520 (unpopulated)
More info Thecus and Origin Storage

CrystalDiskMark Benchmark Results

Ten 4-bay NAS drives CrystalDiskMark sequential score

Data throughput in Mb/s – longer bars are better

Ten 4-bay NAS drives CrystalDiskMark random score

Data throughput in Mb/s – longer bars are better

Thanks to Seagate for its help in supplying the 3TB drives used for testing.

NAS box browser interfaces

Buffalo TeraStation Pro 4-bay NAS drive

Buffalo LinkStation interface is the same as the TeraStation
Click for a larger image

D-Link ShareCentre Quattro DNS-345 4-bay NAS drive

D-Link ShareCentre Quattro DNS-345
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Iomega StorCenter PX4-300D 4-bay NAS drive

Iomega StorCenter PX4-300D
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Netgear ReadyNAS NV+ V2 4-bay NAS drive

Netgear ReadyNAS NV+ V2
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QNAP TS-419P II 4-bay NAS drive

QNAP TS-419P II
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QNAP TS-412 4-bay NAS drive

QNAP TS-412
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Synology DiskStation DS412+ 4-bay NAS drive

Synology DiskStation DS412+
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Synology DiskStation DS411j 4-bay NAS drive

Synology DiskStation DS411j
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Thecus N4800 4-bay NAS drive

Thecus N4800
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