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Accessories And Specifications

Promise's NS4600: Intel's Tolapai Enables Better Network Performance
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Accessories

Promise sells its NS4600 as a barebone enclosure, following the build-your-own approach. It comes bundled with everything a NAS unit needs, save the hard drives. Its printed multi-language manual that guides users through the setup steps is something of a rarity these days, and a pleasant surprise. Screws for fastening the drives in place, a power cord, a network cable, and a CD containing software (such as the SmartNavi application) round out the bundle.

Build Quality and Connectivity

Promise once again picks plastic as its material of choice for the casing and the drive bays of the NS4600, just as it did with the NS4300N.

The column of drive status LEDs found on the right side of the case’s front plate is now set behind a little plastic window of sorts, blending into the overall design of the unit much more unobtrusively and increasing the perception of quality. The design of the drive covers has been revised as well, adding small ventilation holes for better airflow inside the case. Another new feature found on the front of the case is a small lock to physically secure the drives.

The on/off button has moved to the back of the case, leaving the One-Touch-Backup button as the sole front-mounted control. This feature allows users to copy the contents of USB devices to the NAS device literally at the touch of a button. Joining the power button on the back of the case is an eSATA connector, which can host an external HDD. While that drive can't be included in the RAID array, it can be used to offload some of the data stored on the NS4600. The unit is powered by an internal power supply unit.

Comprehensive Multimedia Functionality

The NS4600 offers a good bit of multimedia functionality right out of the box that users had to tack on to the NS4300N by using plug-ins. Those features include the BitTorrent and eDonkey client MLdonkey 2.9.1, the Firefly media server for iTunes support, and DLNA server. This last addition allows users to stream videos and music to other media-capable devices on the network, such as an Xbox 360.

Using the DLNA-standard is meant to ensure that other compatible devices will be able to detect the NS4600 automatically. Promise’s NAS also supports media tagging for better organization of movies and music files, allowing users to add information about a piece’s artist, album, genre, and title to individual files.

RAID and Snapshots for Data Security

Users can configure the NS4600 to use RAID modes 0, 1, 5, or 10. If RAID 5 is selected, there is a choice between using all four drives for the array or keeping the third as a spare to be used if one of the other drives fails.

The snaphsot feature is also very handy. As the name implies, it can take snapshots of files at user-defined intervals, creating either one or several backup versions of it. If a file accidentally gets deleted, it can be restored from one of the snapshots. Usually, only much more expensive NAS devices like Thecus' N7700 offer this feature.

Power Consumption

We measured the device’s power consumption while the NS4600 was equipped with four identical Samsung Spinpoint HD321KJ hard drives. As it turns out, power draw is indeed similar to that of the Thecus N4100 Pro powered by AMD’s Geode.

Promise NS4600: Power Consumption
Off
3 W
Sleep (HDD Power Down)
25 W
Idle
48 W
Rebuild ( RAID 5, HDD 4)
54 W


Specifications



CPU/RAM
Intel 600 MHz / 256MB DDR II 
Power Supply
Internal, 90-100W with PFC, 100-230V auto-ranging, 50-60Hz AC 
Weight
2.5 kg (excluding drives)
Dimensions (HxWxD)
188 x 152 x 229 mm
Warranty
3 years (1 year for PSU-fan)
Supported Network Protocols
SMB/CIFS (Microsoft), AFP (Apple/MAC), NFS (Linux/Unix), FTP, DHCP client, NTP client 
Supported Operating Systems
Windows 2000, XP, 2003, Vista x86/64, Linux/Unix, Mac OSX v10.4
SmartNavi  Software: Supported Operating Systems
Windows 2000, XP, 2003, Vista x86/64, Mac OSX v10.4
Security / User Management
Domain integration, Microsoft ADS, Unix NIS; User Level, Group & Quota management
USB Connectivity
HDD/Flash-Drive (FAT/FAT32, EXT3), Printer, APC UPS 
eSATA Connectivity
HDD (FAT/FAT32, EXT3) 
Data Backup
Snapshot Backup, NAS-to-NAS Replication, Client-to-NAS Backup (SmartNAVI), One-touch Backup for USB-Drives and digital cameras
File System
EXT3 journaling file system, multi-volume 
Misc.
Integrated print server
Network and Multimedia
Multimedia Server
UPNP and DLNA certified media server 
Download Server
eDonkey, BitTorrent 
Remote Access
Supports various browsers on portable devices 
RAID Management
RAID Modes
RAID 0, 1, 5, 10 
RAID Features
Hot spare, on-line RAID-level migration, capacity extension 
System Management
Supported Browsers
Internet Explorer 6 or above, Opera, FireFox 1.5+, Netscape 7.0, Safari 
Languages
English, German, Chinese (traditional), Chinese (simplified), Japanese, Spanish, Italian, French, Korean, Russian
Coding System
Unicode
Management Protocols / System Messages
HTTP/HTTPS, NTP, SMTP, E-mail, A/V feedback (buzzer/LEDs)
Management Tools
SmartNAVI, WebPASM, One-Touch  
Network Interface
LAN Interface
1000BASE-T,100BASE-TX, 10 BASE-T
Supported Speeds
10/100/1000 Mbps, Jumbo frame 4K/9K/16K supported at 1,000 Mbps
USB Connections
Type and Number of Ports
2 x USB 2.0 Type A
eSATA Connections
Number of Ports
1 Connector
Disk Interface
Number of Drives
4 Drives (3.5") / hot-swappable
Specifications
Supports 3 Gb/s and 1.5 Gb/s SATA drives with NCQ/TCQ; 48-bit LBA support
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  • 1 Hide
    Anonymous , September 4, 2009 11:18 AM
    The thing i REALY want to see on Tom's is NAS tests which can work as iSCSI targets. From some other tests\reviews i've seen sometimes tremendous perfomance increases, on NAS like QNap TS-439 Pro.

    TH people, please do some tests in iSCSI mode =)
  • 5 Hide
    rievax , September 4, 2009 11:52 AM
    TH says nothing about the network configuration. Raw Vista network config? It is probably the worse case scenario then... Samba awfully works with the basic config of Vista. Jumbo packets are enabled? If yes, what size? Same size on the NAS? How did you formatted the RAID --> what strip size / did you have a choice? Shadow_GriZZly is talking about iSCSI that could be faster: in fact, it could be the case if Vista's network configuration is not tweaked for Samba.

    Can you please be more specific in your configuration setup?
  • -4 Hide
    rievax , September 4, 2009 11:52 AM
    TH says nothing about the network configuration. Raw Vista network config? It is probably the worse case scenario then... Samba awfully works with the basic config of Vista. Jumbo packets are enabled? If yes, what size? Same size on the NAS? How did you formatted the RAID --> what strip size / did you have a choice? Shadow_GriZZly is talking about iSCSI that could be faster: in fact, it could be the case if Vista's network configuration is not tweaked for Samba.

    Can you please be more specific in your configuration setup?
  • -1 Hide
    Anonymous , September 4, 2009 1:02 PM
    Ofcourse, the intel CPU is 600Mhz, VS the Geode which is 400Mhz...

    what's the price of this file server?
    Would it make more sense to buy an atom Dual core system as file server? Since 25MB/s transfer rates are nothing to boast about!
    At least the Atom processor may not be as low in power requirement, but runs Linux AND Windows, can playback 720p video, and get data transfer speeds far higher than the ones mentioned in the benchmark, probably in the likes of 150MB/s(as a wild guess), or perhaps even higher...
    For $300, one could basically get a singlecore Atom 270 + 2GB of RAM, and load the files into RAM for faster upload speeds, probably close to the maximum possible through a gigabit lan connection;
    (or am I understanding incorrectly why this NS4600 was made?
  • 0 Hide
    Anonymous , September 4, 2009 1:07 PM
    I mean, it would make sense if this device is a sub $100 device (I'd probably wanna pay no more than $80 to have it, seeing the low specs and no sceen, or even mention of a harddrive)
  • 0 Hide
    duzcizgi , September 4, 2009 1:21 PM
    I'd also be very happy to see a review of iSCSI Targets.

    Depending on the filesystem employed and the client accessing the files, NAS devices show varying results. An iSCSI setup would be much more level, compared to higher level FS/NFS performance tests.
  • -2 Hide
    warezme , September 4, 2009 1:40 PM
    From 3 to 45 Watts, a nicely configured laptop runs around 3 to 45 Watts with infinitely more power..., what is the box for again????
  • 0 Hide
    daft , September 4, 2009 2:01 PM
    Quote:
    From 3 to 45 Watts, a nicely configured laptop runs around 3 to 45 Watts with infinitely more power..., what is the box for again????


    you do realize that most laptops cannot do 4 disk raid 5 right?
  • 2 Hide
    Aragorn , September 4, 2009 2:03 PM
    The 45Watts includes 4 3.5" hard drives flat out! You have those in that laptop?

    Were the hard drives in the 4100 and the 4300 the same? Why no iSCSI? Can the eSATA port be used to automatically back up the whole array to another disk (say having a pair and keeping one off site in case of a fire or other catastrophic event, obviously swapping ofsite adn local disks periodically).

    How does this system compare to some some of the home brew RAID boxes that THG has set up, both in price and preformance?

    TOO MANY UNANSWERED YET OBVIOUS QUESTIONS!!! Tom's used to be soo much better than this! What is going on over there? Where have all your good writers/reviewers gone (or are you being told to dumb things down by BOM)?
  • 0 Hide
    Aragorn , September 4, 2009 2:04 PM
    Needed an alert to feedback, sorry 'bout the useless post.
  • 0 Hide
    mindless728 , September 4, 2009 2:53 PM
    meh, i will stick to my old S939 computer as the file server, i get about 80MB/s over the network
  • 0 Hide
    mtbman1980 , September 4, 2009 3:43 PM
    akk these test were using intel benchmarking software. if this if right could is that the normal standard by which these devices are normaly tested
  • -1 Hide
    igot1forya , September 4, 2009 4:03 PM
    alagadnidonaldBTW, will this run crysis? couldn't help it!

    Yep, you can run the game from the drive!
  • 1 Hide
    jasperjones , September 4, 2009 5:12 PM
    I realize this site's name is Tom's *Hardware* but I would have liked to see in the test if the installed software works well. It's not that rare to find impractical GUIs, non-working UPNP functionality, etc. in NAS boxes.
  • 0 Hide
    WheelsOfConfusion , September 4, 2009 7:45 PM
    Hasn't AMD decided to discontinue the Geode line? That's why the OLPC is moving to a VIA C7 in the 1.5 version, right?
  • -1 Hide
    drums101 , September 4, 2009 8:04 PM
    makes me want one for a home network
  • -1 Hide
    False_Dmitry_II , September 5, 2009 4:32 AM
    ProDigit80Ofcourse, the intel CPU is 600Mhz, VS the Geode which is 400Mhz...what's the price of this file server?Would it make more sense to buy an atom Dual core system as file server?


    Yeah, I wanted a dedicated NAS type file server, because at the time my gaming computer served that purpose and ran all the time. So I went to craigslist and went out and got a $10 Pentium 3 computer, slapped a PCI SATA card in it and added a 1 TB drive and was good to go.
  • 0 Hide
    MBinder , September 7, 2009 1:30 PM
    Hello everybody.

    First thank you for your valuable feedback. Please let me answer a few questions.

    Test setup: To lower the impact on transfer rates we are always using the same computer and harddrives for our NAS device tests. You can have a look at the hardware details on page three of this review. There is only one exception: If the NAS device comes preconfigured with harddrives we are using these instead of our Samsung HD321KJ drives.

    Slow network performance between Samba and Vista: There has been an issue on both sides, Samba and Vista that led to extremely slow transferrates (around 5MBit/s) when copying files from the NAS device to the Vista machine. According to my present knowledge these issues have been addressed with Service Pack 1 for Vista and the release of Samba 3.0.28a.
    So the network configuration used is the standard Vista network configuration as you can find it after a fresh install of the OS. The reason why we do this is that we believe that the average user shouldn't have to fiddle with the network configuration to get satisfying transferrates. A customer expects that the device is running hassle-free out of the box. If it isn't working we think that the manufacturer has to come up with a solution and not the customer.

    Jumbo packtes: Some NAS devices support jumbo packets, some don't. As we want to have comparable results we have to go without jumbo packets. Moreover there is no official standard for jumbo packets so it can have a negative impact on data transferrates in certain network setups. But you are right, we shoud have mentioned this in the review.

    Stripe size: Almost all NAS devices intended to be used in a SOHO or home network don't allow a selection of the stripe size when setting up the RAID configuration for reasons of simplification. This is also true for the NS4600 and could have been mentioned in the review.

    iSCSI tests: The reason why we haven't tested the NS4600 as an iSCSI target is plain simple: It doesn't support this feature. :)  But you are right - more and more NAS devices, even for the consumer segment can be used as an iSCSI target. As soon as the majority of these devices support iSCSI we will not only stick with the SMB transferrates but we will also have a look at the iSCSI performance.

    Greetings from Germany,
    Marcel
  • 0 Hide
    promisenasdude , September 7, 2009 5:00 PM
    iSCSI, Web 2.0 Interface, Logitech Squeezecenter, MySQL and tons more are coming SR1 in late October. :) 
  • 0 Hide
    JohnnyLucky , September 7, 2009 5:26 PM
    The enclosure looks like a prime candidate for a sff case, maybe a case mod too. I don't think the guys over in IT would go for it though.
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