ASUSTOR AS1002T 2-Bay Entry-Level NAS Review

by - 4 years ago

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Introduction


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It isn’t everyone that needs the fastest NAS model on the block with all sorts of fancy features, sometimes you just want something simple, effective, and cheap. ASUSTOR created a great NAS for just such a scenario and dubbed it the AS1002T. The AS1002T is a 2-bay entry-level NAS and today I’m taking a closer look at the NAS, its features, and performance.

ASUSTOR only just released the 10-series a little while ago and these are the first ARM-powered NAS devices from ASUSTOR. Next to this 2-bay unit that I’m reviewing today, ASUSTOR also created a bigger brother to it with 4-bays. However, it is the AS1002T that I’m reviewing today and this NAS is powered by a Marvell ARMADA-385 1.0GHz dual-core processor and comes with 512MB onboard RAM. That might not sound like much, but it should be plenty for normal file-serving and streaming purposes at home. The Marvell ARMADA-385 CPU offers both hardware encryption engine and floating-point unit, but it only consumes a small amount of power; a truly efficient little NAS with a power consumption of just 13.2W during operations.

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The diamond pattern on the front together with the otherwise simple black layout gives the AS1002T a great design and it isn’t as boring as a plain black unit would be. It would look equally nice next to your entertainment system or TV as it would in your home office.

The 70mm fan on the rear of the unit provides the cooling and the NAS only produces 19dBA of noise during idle mode and 32 dBA during use. That’s not much at all which is a great thing, a device that will run 24/7 needs to blend into the background and be forgotten.

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The AS1002T is a basic NAS that provides basic connectivity. It comes with a single Gigabit Ethernet connection that in itself is sufficient for most personal setups where low-end switches wouldn’t allow for link aggregation anyway. Adding more would just increase the price. You get two USB 3.0 ports that not only support storage drives but also USB UPS devices and printers that then easily can be shared over your network. WiFi and Bluetooth adapters are also supported on the AS1002T

The NAS features a completely tool-free installation with two thumbscrews on the rear of the unit to open it. Once they are out, you can simply slide the case apart and install your hard disks. The hard disk installation is tool-less too thanks to the included thumbscrews. A simple way to make it easy to install the drives and keeping everything cost-effective. The downside here is that you cannot swap slide out the hard drives as easy and during use as you would be able to with an NAS that features ejectable drive trays. Again, that would have been an unnecessary cost increase as most home users won’t swap drives at all. Once it’s running, it’s running.

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Thanks to the ARM CPU, the AS1002T is a very efficient little NAS. It only consumes 13.2W during operation and 6.6W during disk hibernation. The AS1002T features automatic standby for both internal and external disks, auto fan control so it never spins more than needed, and power scheduling for on, off, and restart. These are all features that are great for the environment, hardware, and electrical bill.

The LEDs can be dimmed to fit just the scenario you put the NAS into and whether you want to see them or not. The AS1002T also features the LED Night Mode where it automatically adjusts the LED lights based on your settings.

Despite the low power consumption and eco-friendliness, the AS1002T NAS still performs great. It is capable of providing a read and write performance of up to 95MB/s reading and 110MB/s writing with the 3TB WD RED test drives that ASUSTOR used for the specifications.

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Besides just being a network connected storage, the AS1002T is a great multimedia companion. The CPU’s built-in floating-point unit is able to quickly process large amounts of photo thumbnails, allowing you to instantly transfer and browse photos at any time. The rich variety of multimedia server applications is able to smoothly stream high-definition multimedia entertainment to devices such as UPnP/DLNA players, web browsers on computers, tablets and smartphones.

As I previously mentioned, the ARM CPU features a built-in encryption engine, allowing data to be completely protected from the moment it is first stored on the NAS. This means that you never have to worry about your confidential data falling into the wrong hands even if your hard disks become lost or stolen. The built-in hardware encryption engine features read speeds of over 39 MB/s and write speeds of over 31 MB/s for encrypted data. This is only about a third of the speed non-encrypted files would have, but it is still plenty for most operations that involve sensitive data.

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ASUSTOR’s AS1002T is naturally powered by the ASUSTOR Data Master (ADM) 2.5 firmware that provides users with the latest enhanced core functions such as internal backup, shared folder based network recycle bins, and iSCSI LUN snapshots. Optionally, users can download more apps such as Syslog Server and DataSync for Microsoft OneDrive along with newly upgraded versions of existing Apps such as Photo Gallery and LooksGood. The NAS unit will of course also work with ASUSTOR’s mobile apps for tasks such as system management, file management, backup, downloading, media sharing, home surveillance and more, allowing users to have effortless and continuous access to their NAS while on the go.

Packaging and Accessories

The ASUSTOR AS1002T box is a simple white with all the relevant information right on the front, such as compatibility, basic features, and specifications, as well as a photo of the unit itself. The rear features a few more information in a variety of languages.

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Inside the box, you will find an AC power adapter and a power cable that is suited for the region you bought the unit in. There is an LAN cable, software and manual disk, setup guide, and eight thumbscrews to mount the drives.

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A closer look inside


Once the cover is taken off the ASUSTOR AS1002T, the inner workings get revealed. We see a simple layout with the motherboard mounted on one side and a PCIe bridge for the SATA3 ports and power connections. Behind it all, we can spot the 70mm fan.

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The hard disks aren’t just held up by the screws when you mount them, they are also supported by the frame itself. This should make sure that there isn’t any unnecessary strain on the SATA connectors and thereby also the drives.

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The motherboard in itself is very simple and there aren’t many parts on it. The ARM CPU is located right in the middle and it has a small heatsink for passive cooling. There is a lot of free space on the motherboard as there isn’t any need for a lot more in a device like this.

 

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The rear of the motherboard is almost empty, with little worth mentioning here. We do see the front USB port mounted here and above it the LEDs.

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The PCIe bridge for the SATA connections is held equally simple as the motherboard is.

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Taking a closer look at some of the parts, starting with the rear IO area, we see that there actually is room for more ports than were used. The power button is located to the right in this photo, followed by the reset button, the rear USB 3.0 port, the LAN port, and the DC power connection all the way to the left.

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ASUSTOR went for a Marvell Alaska 88E1512 Gigabit Ethernet transceiver for the AS1002T and used a Samsung DDR3 chip for the system’s memory.

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The final parts to show up closer are the LEDs and the FAN used, both can be seen below.

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System Specifications, Features & Power Consumption


Hardware Specifications

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Feature Highlights

  • Exceptional transfer performance
  • Ultra-quiet operation
  • Energy efficient low power consumption
  • Hand screw design for toolless installation
  • Stylish diamond-plate finished cover design

Login

The login screen is simple and there isn’t much to be loaded, hence it’s fast. The stay signed in button can be a bit confusing whether it’s on or not. It is set to stay signed-in in the screenshot below; the login screen can also be customized once you have logged in.

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Dashboard

ASUTOR’s ADM operating system has a more app-like feel and those who usually use mobile devices will quickly find their way around it. It is different from most other NAS OSes in the location of things, so which you prefer is really down to personal preference. Plenty of features and settings as well as extra apps are available for ADM.

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Power Consumption

The chart contains the actual power consumption measured at the PSU connection and while loaded with a maximum amount of drives. Peak, or maximum, power draw will occur during boot times.

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Setup – Initialization & Storage


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ASUSTOR included a manual and software disk with the AS1002T. The software disk is a nice touch and a thing that we don’t see often anymore in the days of downloads. Once you pop in the disk and install the ASUSTOR Control Center, or download it, you’re ready to initialize your new NAS. If you already know the IP address through a scanner app or your router’s IP table, then you can skip the Control Center and just navigate to the IP with your favorite browser. The ASUSTOR Control Center does provide more options than just initialization and worth the installation.

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The actual initialization only requires a few steps, whether you go the one-click or advanced route. Even novice users and first time NAS users shouldn’t be afraid of this part, everything is explained in simple step-by-step instructions.

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The initialization gives two options on where to get the operating system from, whether you want to pick a file from your local system or network or you rather want to get the newest version directly online. The online version is my recommendation as you’ll get the newest version with the most up-to-date features and fixes.

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Once the ADM operating system has been installed, you have the choice of 1-Click setup or the custom setup. For this review, I’ll pick the Custom setup as 1-Click is self-explanatory and custom gives us a few more views on the options available.

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The NAS will need a name and an administrator password. Pick a name that is easy to recognize in your network environment as well as a password you won’t forget.

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Date and Time can be set manual, taken from your current systems settings, or synchronized via NTP servers. NTP is the easiest as it always will be correct and up-to-date this way. It also removes the worry about summer and winter time changes.

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The network settings are simple as there only is one port to configure; which settings you pick here is down to your network settings.

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The final step is to pick the volume settings for our drives, which RAID mode and which drives to include. With a 2-bay unit, we don’t have as many options as in the larger models, but RAID 0, 1, JBOD, and Single drive are all supported.

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The last thing that’s left to do is register your NAS. This is required in order to use the App Central where you can add more features to the NAS; it’s free and only requires an email and a password.

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The NAS is now ready to be used and you’ll be greeted with a small tutorial when the initialization is done, showing you how it all works and what it has to offer.

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Setup – Users, Services & Files


We’ve done our basic initialization and the system is running, what we need now are some users, user groups, and network shares; these three are all conveniently found in the Access Control.

Users

There are two default users created, admin and guest, and you can create pretty much as many more as you want. That is if you want less than 1024 users and I doubt anyone would create more on an NAS like this anyway.

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Creating new users is quick and painless. There are only two things required here and that is a username and password. Optionally you can change the user-ID, set a description and email, and also set expiration date and the users ability to change his own password.

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If you already created a user group, then you can assign the new user to a group right away. The two groups called users and administrator are created by default during the initialization.

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Access to shares can also be set right away during the user creation process.

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Disk quota can be useful to prevent users from filling your NAS with too much garbage. Set a limit that they need to stay within and you have one worry less.

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And that is all there is to it and you’ll just have to repeat the process for all the users that you want to create.

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User Groups

User groups is an easy way to keep track of who is who, where the different accounts you created belong, and what they got access to. It is a lot easier to manage a few groups that 10s or 100s of users manually.

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Creating new user groups is a simple three-step process. Set a name and optional description, select what users should be in the group, and what shared folders they should have access to.

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Shared Folders

The shared folders are the backbone of your NAS and its main area of use. At least when you go by the network attached storage part. The shared folders will be the ones you can access over your network and easily read, copy, and move files to and from; there are a few default shares created, but you’ll most likely want to create more.

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Creating a new shared folder reveals a feature that’s awesome on this NAS and that is the shared folder encryption. Not that it has that feature in itself, most have, but the AS1002T has a hardware encryption engine for AES 256-bit folder encryption that makes encrypted shares a lot faster.

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Privileges can be set in a multitude of ways, allowing you to have it the way you want to.

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There is also another way to create shares on your network from the content that is stored on your NAS and that is Virtual Drives as shares. The virtual drives will be created from ISO files stored or accessible through the NAS, allowing you to create a virtual drive from any disk image.

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Services

Now that we have created our users, groups, and shares, we need to decide what services to starts and which fully depend on what you need. Don’t turn anything on that isn’t required, it’ll just eat resources. Windows shares are turned on by default and the rest is off.

Windows users have several more options besides just turning it on, such as Active Directory support and NTLMv2 authentication. Mac OS X users can benefit from both Bonjour advertising and Time Machine support while Linux users have NFS with its own privileges.

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The FTP server is one of my favorite tools on an NAS as well as in general. It is simple, fast, and reliable.

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The AS1002T supports both FXP and SSL connections for the FTP server. FXP is a must for all remote-operated systems that run FTP server, it can save so much time and bandwidth and it’s nice to see that it wasn’t forgotten.

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The AS1002T only has 1GHz dual-core ARM CPU, so you shouldn’t run the biggest websites from this unit. You can however do it, as it features a built-in web server with virtual host and MySQL features.

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Backup Features

Backup is a very relevant feature for an NAS and ASUSTOR has this area covered well, both to and from the NAS. One of the most popular ways to create remote backups is Rsync and it is also the first option you get within the Backup and Restore functions.

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FTP backup is even simpler and all that it requires is an FTP server running somewhere that you got access to. I really like do like the FTP protocol.

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Double is better, at least sometimes, and that is why you can create backups from content on the NAS to another location on the same device.

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The external backup functions allow you to create easy backups to and from connected USB devices.

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ASUSTOR also included a cloud backup feature for Amazon S3 users. A nice bonus, but I don’t think that many users of this particular NAS will use that service.

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Last but not least, you also have the ability to backup and restore the system settings for the NAS itself. You can also schedule these exports.

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Setup – There is more, Add-Ons & External Devices


There are many options on what you can use this NAS for with all the available apps such as download center, CouchPotato, CMS systems, Galleries, and Games. I mentioned on the last page that the backup services only included Amazon S3 in the cloud area, but you can also get Google Drive support through extra apps. As I said, lots of options.

System Information

There are a few more things that are worth showing, one of them being the system information window. It will provide instant information on your NAS, it’s software and hardware information as well as temperature and fan speed.

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You can also find out what is happening on the network, what users are connected right now, and check up on the log files to see what has happened while you were away.

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Dr. ASUSTOR is also found in the system information and the main reason that I’m mentioning this part. It allows for a quick self-diagnose to find possible trouble and help you to fix them. It also allows you to export the health record in order to get better help from support and user forums.

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Activity Monitor

The activity monitor can be a useful tool as it gives you a live view on the resource consumption. I do feel that this is one place where ASUSTOR still could improve upon their OS with a few more options. The basics are covered, but there isn’t a function to see what process, if any, is accessing drives and which ones, and other details like that.

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Storage Manager

We did set up our drives during the initialization, but there are more options than that in the storage manager. This is also the place you need to go if you want to change the setup later.

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You can’t run the ASUSTOR AS1002T without a volume. When you delete the current one and none is left, the wizard to create a new one will be started automatically; you can pick either the quick or advanced setup.

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With a 2-bay unit, the choices are limited to the four basic modes: Single, JBOD, RAID 0, and RAID 1. There aren’t enough drives available for the rest of the modes, so they’re grayed out.

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Select the drives to be used in the new volume and the new volume is ready to be used.

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After the creating, the new disk array will synchronize which can take up 12 hours on a system like this. You can start to use the new volume now, but the performance might be affected until it has completed the sync.

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Apps

These were just the basic settings that we’ve seen so far. ASUSTOR created the ADM system to be modular and the basic system doesn’t have tons of things installed by default that you don’t need. Instead, ASUSTOR allows you to install just the apps you want and there are hundreds to choose from the App Central.

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There are several ways to filter the apps, making it easier to find just what you need. The App Central works the same way that you’re used to from the app store on your smartphone and tablet and the installation only requires a single click.

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External Devices

You can connect a variety of devices to your ASUSTOR AS1002T NAS via the two USB 3.0 ports. The primary function for most users will be the connection of flash drives and other portable storage drives, but you can also connect USB printers to the NAS and turn them into network connected ones.

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Wireless networking and Bluetooth is both supported, but both require optional USB dongles to be connected. Please check compatibility list before you purchase to make sure that the two will work together.

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The ability to connect an external optical disk drive to the NAS is awesome. You can easily rip any drive to an ISO and create a backup on your NAS that way. That is on top of the ability to share any optical disk over your network.

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UPS devices are also supported on the AS1002T, allowing the NAS to withstand shorter power-outtakes and safely shut down if they last too long.

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Testing Method


Most of the hardware for NAS testing isn’t an important factor when it comes to benchmarks, most of it comes down to the network infrastructure. I will be teaming the two Intel Gigabit Ethernet ports on my test bench and connect them to my managed switch. The same will be done with the available LAN ports on the NAS, which should give a great testing environment.

As part of the testing, the NAS is connected through a Netgear GS724TPS managed Gigabit switch and then to our test bench to give the best real world setup test that we can and the NAS itself will be packed with Western Digital’s latest RED NAS drives. Intel’s NASPT software does require us to drop the memory down to 2GB, as using any more would lead to data caching and skew the results.

I will be testing the NAS box performance under each of the RAID options that it has available as well just a single drive. Full volume encryption and shared folder encryption will also be tested where available, to check what impact it has on the performance. The USB 3.0 speeds will be measured with our trusted Angelbird SSD2go Pocket drive.

Test system:

Disks in Product:

We would like to thank our sponsors for supplying us with the components needed for the test system as well as drives.

Software used:

With a device of this sort having so many different applications, Intel’s NASPT software covers all the bases and also gives us a set of results that we will be able to utilize and give a benchmark against other similar systems in the future.

Intel NASPT (Network Attached Storage Performance Toolkit) performs its test by transferring varying sizes and quantities of data to and from the device based on twelve different scenarios.

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HD Video Playback


HD Video playback is a read test, where a single 2 Gb file is read in 256 kB blocks sequentially from the drive. This simulates where a 720p HD video is being watched across the network to a media player on the other end.

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2x HD Video Playback


2x HD Video Playback works with exactly the same data set as the first HD Video test, however, this time the same content is streamed twice from the NAS box simulating two simultaneous streams being made to external media players.

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4x HD Video Playback


In the same way that the 2x Video Playback streams to the equivalent of 2 external media players at the same time, the test here doubles that again up to a simulated 4 media players.

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HD Video Record


The HD Video Record test is, as the name suggests, a write test to the NAS box. A single 2 GB file is written to the device in 256 kB blocks sequentially to the disk.

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HD Playback & Record


The HD playback and record test now put the drive under the same single record and playback tests as before, but now at the same time. This will factor for the quick changes needed to switch between reading and writing two large blocks of data across the network to the device.

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Content Creation


For content creation, Intel have simulated access to via video creation applications. This is made up of 98 files with 12 MB reads and 14 MB writes in varying sizes of blocks. The activity is predominantly non-sequential with the majority of access time made up of writing to the drives. There are quiet periods of read/write activity interrupted with busy periods to present a difficult workload on the drives.

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Office Productivity


The office productivity simulation is very similar to the content creation, with a total of 607 files written to and read from the drive. A total of 1.4 GB of data is written to and read from the drive with a close balance between each made – the majority of write access is made up of 1 kB writes.

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File Copy To NAS


This test quite simply put copies a single large file from the test system to the NAS box to show how well the system can sustain a single write speed. The 1.4 GB file is copied to the drive and written in 64 kB blocks.

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File Copy From NAS


File copy from the NAS works in exactly the same way as the copy test, but it works in the opposite direction. The single 1.4 GB file is read off the NAS in 64 kB blocks.

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Directory Copy To NAS


In the directory copy to NAS test, a directory tree representing that of a typical commercially available office suite is copied to the NAS to trace the bulk copy of a complex directory. A total of 2833 files making up 247 MB are moved, but the file sizes vary considerably with an average size of 41.4 kB. Due to the varying sizes of the files, only around 50% of the writes are sequential.

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Directory Copy From NAS


In the same way that the file copy from NAS traces the same file back across to the test system, the directory copy from NAS does exactly the same but to the entire directory that it copied across previously.

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Photo Album


Last of all is a test based around a photo album. When a photo album is viewed on-screen, only the images that you see are loaded from the drive and so when you scroll through the album, the new images have to be fetched and read. The album here contains 169 photos with varying file sizes based on the size, quality and detail in the image. Reading the files in a photo album puts an unusual read load upon the drive as the metadata is read, a thumbnail constructed and finally the image viewed.

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Complete Benchmark: Average Throughput


Intel NASPT provides a summary at the end of each benchmark, included in this is the average throughput from all the previous test as one number. This is a pretty good overall view of a device and as such I’ve started to include this as well. The numbers below are the average of the previous 12 tests.

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Encryption


Security is an ever growing concern and encryption is a great step to achieve this. This page will provide a comparison between encrypted data and a normal single drive and what impact it will have on the performance. Not all NAS feature Full volume and Shared Folder encryption, but I will test what is available.

Shared Folder Encryption

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Encrypting a single shared folder does affect performance quite a bit and we see drops in performance of up to 70% in some of the tests. We still get results that you can work effectively from.

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Final Thoughts


Pricing

ASUSTOR’s AS1002T was only just released and it hasn’t reached its destinations all around the world yet. US customers can already get their hands on this NAS as some of the first and it is available there for just $199.99 on Amazon and NewEgg has a listing for it for $179.00. A very fair price for this awesome NAS.

Overview

ASUSTOR entered the ARM based NAS area with their new 10 series and the 2-bay AS1002T that I had the pleasure to review today doesn’t need to hide from its Intel-based brothers. The design of the AS1002T is simple yet elegant with its overall black case and diamond pattern on the front. It would look equally well besides the entertainment system as it would in your home office. The hard disk installation is a breeze thanks to thumb screws and once it’s running, you’ll barely hear it.

The Marvell ARMADA-385 1GHz dual-core processor might not sound like much in today’s GHz and core counts, but it does very well in an NAS environment. It comes with both hardware encryption engine that helps to keep the performance up when you need that extra layer of protection and also features a floating point unit that helps at tasks such as thumbnail creation. We saw a great performance from the AS1002T throughout the benchmarks and better than I had expected. ARM processors have come a long way over the past years and so have the NAS operating systems.

With a Gigabit Ethernet port to connect the NAS and the ability to connect WiFi and Bluetooth adapters through USB, the AS1002T features all the basic connectivity needed for most homes. The NAS has a total of two USB 3.0 ports where one of them is placed on the front for easy access. The NAS is great for multimedia streaming to DLNA compatible devices as well as Chromecast. There is a huge add-on library available with extra apps from download managers over CMS system to games and all sorts of other things.

Pros:

  • Good performance
  • Hardware encryption
  • Eco-friendly

Cons:

  • RAM not upgradeable

“The ASUSTOR AS1002T is a powerful entry level NAS that comes with a low power consumption, all basic features, a good performance, and a fair price.”

Bang-For-Buck

ASUSTOR AS1002T 2-Bay Entry-Level NAS Review

Thank You ASUSTOR for providing us with this review sample.

Article Index

  1. Introduction
  2. A closer look inside
  3. System Specifications, Features & Power Consumption
  4. Setup - Initialization & Storage
  5. Setup - Users, Services & Files
  6. Setup - There is more, Add-Ons & External Devices
  7. Testing Method
  8. HD Video Playback
  9. 2x HD Video Playback
  10. 4x HD Video Playback
  11. HD Video Record
  12. HD Playback & Record
  13. Content Creation
  14. Office Productivity
  15. File Copy to NAS
  16. File Copy from NAS
  17. Directory Copy to NAS
  18. Directory Copy from NAS
  19. Photo Album
  20. Complete Benchmark: Average Throughput
  21. Encryption
  22. Final Thoughts
  23. View All

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