Thecus N4100PRO NAS Server ReviewNemo - July 19, 2010
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Content Creation (higher is better)
This test simulates content creation on the NAS device such as might occur when rendering a video. There are 99 files used and is composed of 95% write operations with up to 64kb block sizes and consists of 39.1% sequential operations.
The content creation test has a way of making some units get a little weak in the knees and it's not unusual to see performance rates drop. Here we see throughput rates drop to the 9-13MB/s range for the N4100PRO and it finally manages to maintain parity with the N3200PRO. It comes close to the DS408, but it's still no match for the TS-509 running four drives.
Office Productivity (higher is better)
The Office Productivity test is roughly evenly distributed between read and write operations using 607 small files consisting of 1KB and 4KB reads and mostly 1KB writes.
If the content creation test makes units go weak in the knees, then the office productivity will make them roll over and pass out. Other units manage to take this killer of a test in stride and the N4100PRO is one of those, maintaining throughput of 20-25MB/s. The Synology DS408 floundered in this test, so that's one unit the N4100PRO had no trouble handling. It still lagged behind its sibling and the TS-509.
File Copy to NAS (higher is better)
The File Copy test copies a single large file to the NAS unit using 100% sequential 64kb write operations.
Copying a large file to the NAS resulted in throughput rates ranging from 13-18MB/s, slow enough to put it behind all the other devices in every category.
File Copy From NAS
This test reads the single large (1.4GB) file from the File Copy test from the NAS using 64kb read operations.
Going back the other way and copying the file from the NAS is a repeat of the same song and dance - consistent throughput rates in th 25-27MB/s range, but still not enough to overtake the other units.
Dir Copy to NAS (higher is better)
This test copies a directory structure with 126 files to the NAS device using predominantly 64kb writes but also includes a wide distribution under 16kb.
Once again, the N4100PRO is able to come close to the performance of the N3200PRO, but not that of the Synology or QNAP devices.
Dir Copy From NAS (higher is better)
This test copies the same directory structure of 126 files from the NAS device using 64kb reads.
The N4100PRO exhibits rates of 12-14MB/s which is consistent with the N3200PRO but once again it falls behind the other two, more powerful units.
Photo Album (higher is better)
The Photo Album test simulates the viewing of 169 photo files of various sizes stored on the NAS and consists of 100% read operations.
The photo album test is another test that stresses the test units' ability to handle a number of large files across the network. As you can see from the test results, the performance of the units dropped into the neighborhood of 8-9MB/s. In this regard, the N4100PRO manages to hang with the other units and even manages a win over the Synology unit in the RAID 6 configuration.
That finishes all the tests in the NAS Performance Toolkit suite. You'll notice that the RAID 10 format is missing from the graphs above. None of the comparison units support RAID 10 so the only other unit to compare it to would be the MicroNet MaxNAS, a 5-bay unit we reviewed previously. Unlike the MaxNAS, the N4100PRO managed to beat the RAID 5/6 configuration in most, but not all cases. However, the margins weren't compelling enough across the board to warrant the extra disk space lost in setting up a RAID 10 array.
In the end, where does that leave us with the N4100PRO? On the one hand it looks like the unit displays good solid mid-range performance. It obviously can't hang with the big dogs, but the QNAP and Synology units simply outclass it in terms of processor speed and amount of memory. They also carry a much higher price tag than the N4100PRO.
The part that left me feeling confused was its performance vis-a-vis the N3200. The N4100PRO and the N3200PRO have the same AMD Geode LX800 500MHz processor and both feature 256MB DDR 400MHz memory. Both units were evaluated using the same Seagate 500GB drives, so, all else being equal, you would expect the units to exhibit similar performance. But the N4100PRO boasts four drives to the N3200's three and the extra spindle should give it a performance edge in the RAID 0/5 setups. But, as we saw in the results section, this was not the case. I was confounded enough by these test results to cause me to re-examine the setup for any discrepancies and re-run several tests to verify the results and everything checked out, so I am confident the results are valid.