Performance

Asustor AS5304T Review

The Nimbustor family of NAS appliances represents a new direction for Asustor as these 2 and 4-bay appliances are its first to sport dual 2.5GbE multi-Gigabit network ports. Aimed at home users and small businesses, they’re powered by Intel’s Gemini Lake Celeron CPUs which have a miniscule 10W TDP making them highly energy-efficient.

On review is the 4-bay AS5304T which has a quad-core 1.5GHz Intel Celeron J4105 teamed up with 4GB of 2,400MHz DDR4 memory and its spare SO-DIMM slot allows you to upgrade memory to 8GB. At the rear are dual 2.5GbE ports which offer a network boost beyond 1GbE using your existing Cat5e/6 cabling.

Two USB 3 ports are provided at the rear while the single USB 3 port at the front links up with the One Touch Backup button above so you can quickly copy data to or from an inserted USB storage device. The USB 3 ports can also be used to expand outside the box by adding up to three 4-bay AS6004U desktop expansion units.

Multimedia is on Asustor’s agenda as the Celeron CPU incorporates an Intel UHD Graphics 600 GPU for piping 4K video to the rear HDMI 2.0 port. Team this up with Asustor’s Portal and you can directly access apps such as the ADM console, Amazon Prime video, surveillance and virtualization from a local HD monitor.

AS5304T Performance Testing

For performance testing, we hooked the AS5304T up to Netgear’s ProSafe MS510TX multi-Gigabit switch

Multi-Gigabit deployment

The AS5304T is very well built with its ‘diamond-cut’ gloss black front panel held in place with magnetic catches. Behind this are tool-free drive carriers into which we slotted four 12TB Seagate IronWolf hard disks and then ran the web-based quick start wizard to load the latest ADM 3.4.1 software and create a big RAID5 array.

To realize the full potential of the appliance’s 2.5GbE ports will require connecting it a multi-Gigabit adapter or switch that supports 2.5GbE operations. There are surprisingly few affordable switch choices currently on the market and for testing, we chose Netgear’s excellent ProSafe MS510TX which supports all multi-Gigabit speeds.

This 10-port switch has four standard Gigabit ports, two that support 1/2.5GbE, two more for 1/2.5/5GbE speeds and copper and fibre 10GbE ports with the former also supporting 1/2.5/5GbE speeds. We hooked the appliance up to two of the switch’s 2.5GbE ports and a glance at the ADM Settings app and the switch’s web console confirmed they had negotiated their full speeds.

Great 2.5GbE performance

For performance testing, we used a Dell PowerEdge T640 Xeon Scalable tower server running Windows Server 2019 and hooked up over 10GbE to the Netgear’s high speed ports. With a NAS share mapped to the server, we saw Iometer report excellent sequential read and write rates of 2.3Gbits/sec and 2.2Gbits/sec.

These translated to good real world speeds with our 25GB drag and drop file copies also returning read and write averages of 2.3Gbits/sec and 2.2Gbits/sec. Backup performance was less impressive as securing a 22.4GB folder with 10,500 small files to the share averaged 1Gbits/sec.

The Celeron’s integral AES-NI engine proved to be very efficient. Copying our 25GB test file to an encrypted share returned a respectable 1.3Gbits/sec.

IP SAN performance is good with a 1TB target returning Iometer read and write rates of 2.3Gbits/sec and 1.9Gbits/sec. With a dual 2.5GbE MPIO iSCSI link to the target, we watched read and write performance ramp up nicely to 4.4Gbits/sec and 3.7Gbits/sec – very similar to Asustor’s quoted speeds.

Data integrity and protection

AS5304T ADM software

The ADM software provides a fair range of backup tools plus NAS volume and IP SAN snapshots

ADM supports Seagate’s IHM (IronWolf Health Management) so we used the Storage Manager app to load up historical graphs of workloads and temperatures for each of our 12TB drives. IHM is also integrated into Asustor’s Disk Doctor so you can schedule regular hard disk scans and access Seagate’s data rescue services if you’ve subscribed to them.

Choosing BTRFS during volume creation brings NAS volume and iSCSI LUN snapshots into play. Configured from the separate Snapshot Center app, these can be run on-demand or scheduled to run as often as every five minutes.

File syncing apps for Dropbox, Google Drive and OneDrive Business (the older OneDrive app is being phased out) are provided and a handy feature is the facility for linking different cloud storage accounts to each NAS user. The EZ Sync Manager app syncs data with Windows systems running the EZ Sync agent and mobiles with the iOS or Android AiData app where you can create one-way and two-way syncing tasks, enable file versioning and retain up to 64 versions.

Multimedia and more

AS5034T supports Seagate's IHM

Support for Seagate’s IHM allows you to schedule diagnostics tests, access the recovery service and check the drive’s warranty period

The Asustor Portal app activates HDMI output and once loaded, the app view appeared on our local HD TV. It provides direct access to a range of apps including the ADM console, Chrome web browser, YouTube, NetFlix, the Surveillance Station, VirtualBox and Amazon Prime videos.

Playing music and videos directly from the ADM web console is handled by the LooksGood and SoundsGood apps. Each one loads a new web page with direct access to your libraries along with search facilities and playlists.

The VirtualBox app can be accessed from the Asustor Portal and although it was a squeeze with only 4GB of memory, we had no problems creating a Windows Server 2019 VM from an ISO stored on the appliance. Asustor’s Surveillance Station 2.8 provides a good range of IP camera monitoring features including a separate Windows viewer client and the app can be accessed from the Asustor portal for viewing multiple camera feeds on the local HD monitor.

Conclusion

A key selling point of the AS5304T is its dual 2.5GbE network ports and while the appliance is good value, you may need to factor in additional costs for a multi-Gigabit adapter or switch. That said, the performance we saw over these higher-speed ports will justify the extra spend and Asustor’s ADM software offers a good range of storage features and services.

8.2 Total Score
Dual 2.5GbE Network Ports offer Performance Boost

A key selling point of the AS5304T is its dual 2.5GbE network ports and while the appliance is good value, you may need to factor in additional costs for a multi-Gigabit adapter or switch. That said, the performance we saw over these higher-speed ports will justify the extra spend and Asustor’s ADM software offers a good range of storage features and services.

Performance
9
Features
7
Build Quality
9
Usability
8
Value
8
PROS
  • Good value
  • Dual 2.5GbE multi-Gigabit ports
  • Fine performance
  • Very quiet
  • Data backup and snapshot features
  • 3-year warranty
CONS
  • You’ll need to invest in a multi-Gigabit adapter or switch
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