Introduction and Testbed Setup

Seagate recently rebooted their NAS offerings, completely revamping their 2013 Business Storage lineup and dropping the old software platform altogether. In its place, they adopted the Debian-based NAS OS, development of which was started by LaCie prior to their acquisition by Seagate. In their 2014 lineup, Seagate has two classes of products, the NAS and the NAS Pro. While the former is suitable for workgroups of 1 to 25 clients, the Pro version pushes that up to 50.

Home consumers and power users form a a rapidly growing market, signified by the wealth of features that Synology and QNAP are bringing to the table in their firmware / product line to target it. Knowing fully well that it takes time to tune the firmware to reach that market, Seagate has wisely decided to concentrate on the SOHO / SMB segment, which is also experiencing similar growth levels. In that segment, purchase decision-makers tend to prefer a single point of contact for the system as a whole, and this works to Seagate's advantage as a hard disk supplier.

The NAS lineup is based on the Marvell ARMADA 370, while the NAS Pro is based on the Intel Rangeley platform. The unit we are looking at today is the NAS 4-Bay. Low cost and power efficiency are some of the positives for ARM-based solutions. With drive capacities on the increase, we have seen users move to 4-bay NAS units in order to take advantage of RAID-10 (despite the loss of effective storage space). This helps to avoid (to a certain extent) risk-prone rebuilds associated with RAID-5 arrays. We have already evaluated multiple ARM-based 4-bay solutions before. So, it will be quite interesting to see how the Seagate NAS 4-bay performs against those.

The STCU100 NAS 4-bay's Marvell ARMADA 370 is no stranger to our labs. We have already seen it in action in the Western Digital My Cloud EX2, albeit in a 2-bay unit. The ARMADA 370 has a single ARMv7 core running at 1.2 GHz, and its appeal is further strengthened by an optimal mix of high-speed I/Os hanging off the SoC. The other specifications of the NAS 4-bay are provided in the table below.

Seagate STCU100 NAS 4-bay Specifications
Processor Marvell ARMADA 370 (1x ARMv7 Core @ 1.2 GHz)
Drive Bays 4x 3.5"/2.5" SATA 6 Gbps HDD / SSD (Hot-Swappable)
Network Links 2x 1 GbE
External I/O Peripherals 2x USB 3.0
Expansion Slots None
VGA / Display Out None
Full Specifications Link Seagate NAS 4-bay Specifications
Price $300 (suggested) / $360 (Amazon)

The NAS 4-bay runs Linux (kernel version 3.10.37). Other aspects of the platform can be gleaned by accessing the unit over SSH.

Testbed Setup and Testing Methodology

The Seagate NAS 4-bay can take up to four drives. Users can opt for either JBOD, RAID 0, RAID 1, RAID 5, RAID 6 or RAID 10 configurations. We benchmarked the unit in RAID 5 with four Western Digital WD4000FYYZ RE drives 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

Thank You!

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

Hardware Platform & Setup Impressions
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  • Arbie - Thursday, July 24, 2014 - link

    Didn't see thermals mentioned. Seagate goes for record-setting internal temps by totally sealing their drives in plastic. I have several GoFlex multi-TB units that, out of the box, exceed their max rated limits! It seems impossible that a company that can build a modern hard drive can't produce a ventilated plastic box to house it. At least I thought it was impossible, but technology advances....

    Yeah I know these are different animals but they still say "Seagate" on them, and those incompetent packaging engineers must have moved on to some other project. Could be this one.


    and probably many other web comments by now.

    BTW the fix on the GoFlex is to rip half the cover off, and hold the remaining half on with a rubber band. Looks real nice.
  • JeffFlanagan - Thursday, July 24, 2014 - link

    I was considering getting three or four of these to replace my somewhat flaky Unraid server, but Arbie's comment makes me worry that this will be drive-destroying junk.

    Ganesh, can you tell us about any thermal issues?
  • DanNeely - Thursday, July 24, 2014 - link

    This design includes a 120mm fan. While measurements would be nice, I doubt this design has the same problem as the goflex enclosure.
  • woggs - Thursday, July 24, 2014 - link

    The pics on page 2 show the fan but no other vent holes for air flow. Where does the air from the fan go? Are there bottom vent holes we can't see?
  • MichaelD - Thursday, July 24, 2014 - link

    The fan pulls air through the chassis from front to back. The air enters through the spaces around the drive sleds and is pulled through/over the drives before being pushed out the perforated rear panel.

    I've been looking to get a NAS device to replace the W7 box/HW RAID card setup I have running at home as a NAS. I built that box 3 years ago to replace the SOHO NAS JUNK that was for sale at that time. I.E. under $600 or so.

    This box looks promising...but still, the storage format is not compatible with Windows. If the NAS itself fails, I have to wait until a replacement NAS is purchased to see if my data is there, and that worries me.
  • MichaelD - Thursday, July 24, 2014 - link

    Just saw that even though it's got two GbE ports, this device does not support Link Aggregation. A real shame. Not a deal-breaker for me but it's nit to pick.
  • MadMan007 - Thursday, July 24, 2014 - link

    It depends on the NAS drive file system actually. There are ext4 drivers for Windows that enable read/write of ext4 volumes. I have read that people are able to pull a drive from a RAID1 and read it on a Windows machine...perhaps it depends on the NAS vendor as well though.
  • ganeshts - Thursday, July 24, 2014 - link

    This unit's lineage is not related to the GoFlex, rather, it is from LaCie (the use of Noctua fans, for example).

    I am very happy with the thermal performance. All our evaluation was done with the WD Re drives (known for not being very 'cool'), and never once did the temperatures go above 50 C in our stress tests.
  • BMNify - Thursday, July 24, 2014 - link

    seriously, how can you keep flogging the crap ARMADA 370 SoC in a NAS as a good investment, tindustrial hey are far lower spec than even a A8 in data throughput and the ports are second rate add-on's for a soc that cant cope.....

    even an old 5.4" single board computer with a cheap case would be far more forgiving of data throughput,
    LS-576TXD 5.25" Embedded board with Intel QM77 w/6 x Giga LAN

    or one of the newer 3.5" smb's would give far better return on investmant, just bung freenas on there and be far better supported.
  • name99 - Thursday, July 24, 2014 - link

    Dude, just accept that different people have different desires and needs.

    Personally I don't see the point of these NAS boxes --- I can (and do) create much the same thing by hooking up a bunch of external drives to an old Mac and using OSX's soft RAID. Meets my needs, may not meet yours, especially if your needs demand RAID5 or live disk replacement.

    Likewise some other people's NEEDs (not desires, NEEDs) are "absolutely trivial installation", or "comes in a single box that can easily be moved, with no bits hanging out".

    You're like the salesman who, asked "please show me the laptops department" starts ranting about "you don't want a laptop, you want a tablet. Here, let me show you our fine selection of tablets."

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