Introduction and Testbed Setup

Asustor is one of the recent entrants in the NAS market. Over the last couple of years, they have tried to play in the same space as QNAP and Synology (with units based on the Atom D2700 as well as Evansport). However, they have recently opted to put more emphasis on the mid- to upper-range of the market with Haswell-based products in the 70-series. Rackmounts were introduced at CES, and the lineup was expanded at Computex. Asustor sent over the AS7008T, the 8-bay variant in a tower form factor, for review.

Unlike the 8-bay tower units from QNAP and Synology, the AS7008T opts for a horizontal drive strategy with two columns of drive bays. The main selling point of Asustor's 70-series is the presence of a high-performance Haswell Core-i3 processor (compared to the Atom-based models that QNAP and Synology are putting emphasis on for the SMB market). However, it has to be noted that the cost is correspondingly higher too. In terms of chassis I/O and hardware features, the AS7008T comes with a PCIe 3.0 x8 expansion slot and HDMI output. Other connections are pretty standard, with the usual bevy of USB 2.0 and 3.0 as well as eSATA ports. As usual for such systems, the 350W PSU is in-built. The PSU has a small fan in addition to the 2x 120mm fans in the rear responsible for cooling the drives and the motherboard components.

The specifications of the Asustor AS7008T are provided in the table below

Asustor AS7008T Specifications
Processor Intel Core i3-4330 (2C/4T Haswell x86 Cores @ 3.5 GHz)
RAM 2GB DDR3 (Expandable. Max 16GB)
Drive Bays 8x 3.5"/2.5" SATA II / III HDD / SSD (Hot-Swappable)
Network Links 2x 1 GbE
External I/O Peripherals 3x USB 3.0, 2x USB 2.0, 2x eSATA
Expansion Slots PCIe 3.0 x8
VGA / Display Out HDMI
Full Specifications Link Asustor AS7008T Specifications
Price USD 1523 (Newegg)

In the rest of the review, we will take a look at the Haswell / 8-series PCH and how the Asustor AS7008T takes advantage of it. This is followed by benchmark numbers for both single and multi-client scenarios across a number of different client platforms as well as access protocols. We have a separate section devoted to the performance of the NAS with encrypted shared folders. Prior to all that, we will take a look at our testbed setup and testing methodology.

Testbed Setup and Testing Methodology

The Asustor AS7008T can take up to 8 drives. Users can opt for either JBOD, RAID 0, RAID 1, RAID 5, RAID 6 or RAID 10 configurations. We expect typical usage to be with multiple volumes in a RAID-5 or RAID-6 disk group. However, to keep things consistent across different NAS units, we benchmarked a RAID-5 volume spanning all drives. Eight Western Digital WD4000FYYZ RE drives were used as the test disks. Our testbed configuration is outlined below.

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 Z-Drive R4 CM88 (1.6TB PCIe SSD)
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 Evolution 850W
OS Windows Server 2008 R2
Network Switch Netgear ProSafe GSM7352S-200

The above testbed runs 25 Windows 7 VMs simultaneously, each with a dedicated 1 Gbps network interface. This simulates a real-life workload of up to 25 clients for the NAS being evaluated. All the VMs connect to the network switch to which the NAS is also connected (with link aggregation, as applicable). The VMs generate the NAS traffic for performance evaluation.

Thank You!

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

Setup Impressions and Platform Analysis
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  • bernstein - Sunday, November 30, 2014 - link

    Holy crap $1500?! subtracting i3-4330, GA-H97N, 2GB RAM, a 2x SATA3 PCIe controller, some usb stick for the os & a psu thats over $1100 just for the case & that custom operating system...
    to which i can only say: apple would be twice as rich if it had such margins...
  • tocker - Sunday, November 30, 2014 - link

    We have not had the best run with the Asustor NAS devices - seem to have some bugs they need to sort out - We have found that even as backup targets they do bizarre things like stop sharing the folders via CIFS/SMB. (log in and reshare, problem solved)
    We expect a NAS to run for months/years without issues, and sadly this had not been the case for these units.
  • bill.rookard - Sunday, November 30, 2014 - link

    I have to agree. When you build a NAS, it needs to be rock-solid, always on, and always available. Oh, and reliable disks help too. I have a FreeNAS 7 based system in my basement (Rack-mounted, Gigabyte board, Phenom II x 2 processor, 4gb ram, 5x2tb drives in RAID5) and it has been restarted maybe a half dozen times in as many years - most of those being deliberate power-downs for reconfigurations of the hardware (ram upgrades/chassis swap/1 drive replacement & rebuild) and it has been probably the most reliable OS I've ever dealt with.

    Considering FreeNAS is a free, open source project, I would think that the people at Asustor would be able to come at least as close.
  • leexgx - Tuesday, December 2, 2014 - link

    mine is i7-920 with 8 GB ram not ECC but never had stability issues its both CPU and ram underclocked as well (only 1 of the 3 ram slot works got the mobo for like £40-50 when i was doing folding@home with 3x9800GX2 ) 6 HDDs gets rebooted for updates every so 3-6 months (running 2003 server (the XP x64 based one) the later versions of MS server (vista at the time it was Built so been running for long time) was giving me issues with network performance
  • mrdude - Sunday, November 30, 2014 - link

    >$1500 for an i3 with 2GB of non-ECC RAM and only dual ethernet?

    That's a steal!
  • bill.rookard - Sunday, November 30, 2014 - link

    No kidding, for $1500.00 it should almost come populated with at least 8x2tb drives.
  • bernstein - Monday, December 1, 2014 - link

    not almost... at $1500 it has to come with at least 8x3TB, everthing less is just ripping consumers off...
  • Wkstar - Sunday, November 30, 2014 - link

    EMachines came in 1999 and knocked the computer world prices in half. Somebody will come and do the same to NAS.. There prices are crazy
  • Kerryl - Monday, December 1, 2014 - link

    Don't throw out your tongue...Asustor seems to be lower-priced in the league of i3 NAS. Over $2000 out there for even lower cpu configuration:
  • techticket - Monday, December 1, 2014 - link

    at the core-i3 QNAP TS-879-PRO-U cost $2000+ from newegg.....

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