The Asustor AS5108T provides high network traffic performance with existing gigabit networks. This model's four Ethernet ports can aggregate for 10GbE-like transfers.
Asustor is one of the lesser-known NAS appliance providers, but its parent company should be quite familiar to Tom's Hardware readers. With massive growth potential, Asus built its subsidiary to provide reliable storage products for the home and office. Today, we look at what we consider to be one of the company's best offerings.
The AS5108T comes recommended by Asustor as a home enthusiast or small business NAS. It packs a quad-core Intel Celeron at 2GHz (capable of accelerating to 2.41GHz) into a pedestal form factor that has eight drive bays. This system, along with Asustor's other new models for 2015, features HDMI connectivity for multimedia applications.
I'll do my best to keep you interested by revealing the price early on. Most high drive-count NAS appliances break the $1000 mark, and several inch closer to the $1500 range. We found the Asustor AS5108T for $787 from a large e-tailer while writing this review. We've tested more expensive four-bay NAS systems that don't hold a candle to the features and potential of the box we're testing today.
Most NAS appliances offer the same general features; there are few exclusives in the NAS market. With that said, much differentiation comes from software. The hardware serves to enable each system's basic functionality, accepting and holding your data. When you want that information back, that's where the companies can really get innovative.
And this is where Asustor sets itself apart. The company dedicates no less than 32 pages to the ADM operating system, dividing features into appropriate categories: Home and SOHO users, Business users, Mobile Applications and a separate section for miscellaneous utilities and browser plug-ins. Don't get me wrong, many NAS appliances have impressive software packages. But when you want to access your data from any device, Asustor is the company to turn to.
The AS5108T has a solid mix of new- and old-world connections that make this a versatile NAS for power users. HDMI, for example, is included for media center and surveillance use. This system also has an IR receiver, making it compatible with Asustor's remote control (sold separately). S/PDIF, also known as Sony/Philips Digital Interface, is also present, enabling optical audio output. Familiar interfaces include USB and eSATA, a connection that's seldom used but particularly useful when you need additional storage.
It will take you a long time to need those two eSATA ports, though, since the AS5108T has eight hot-swappable drive bays that support both 3.5" and 2.5" disks. Asustor officially supports up to 8TB drives. But with 10TB models beginning to emerge, I suspect official support will soon follow. With eight drive bays filled with 8TB disks, you can install up to 64TB of storage space. We recommend using RAID 6 for dual disk failure redundancy. That'd leave you with 48TB of usable capacity.
The aforementioned Celeron supports hardware transcoding for a wide range of multimedia files. Asustor only includes 2GB of RAM, but the system supports up to 8GB via two DDR3 SO-DIMM slots just under the cover.
Moving data in and out is possible with four gigabit Ethernet ports that support 802.11ad Link Aggregation. In theory, you can transfer up to 500 MB/s at one time with all four ports. This is far from reality though, given hard drive transfer rates and real-world overhead.
Price, Warranty & Accessories
I felt compelled to grab a screenshot when I found Asustor's AS5108T selling for $787 on Superbiiz. In addition to its attractive price, Asustor covers its retail products with a three-year warranty. I've never had to deal with the company's support staff or make a warranty claim, even though I own several of Asustor's appliances.
The AS5108T ships with a software installation disc, power cord, two CAT 5e cables, paper manuals and screws for both 3.5" and 2.5" drives. Asustor also sells an IR remote controller, supported DRAM modules, single- and four-camera license packs for Surveillance Center.