Asustor was the first to market with a Braswell-based NAS, and it feels like the company cut a few corners to get there. Early performance issues blamed on immature firmware are outside of what we expect from Asustor. The AS6204T just doesn't impress like some of its predecessors. Maybe that's because this model follows higher-profile appliances we recently reviewed, such as the AS7 series with Core i3 processors inside and the AS5008T with eight drive bays.
And so I put more thought into my initial impression. At $575, you get a low-power platform with 4GB of RAM. The QNAP TS-451+ we recently reviewed (and compared to the AS6204T in this piece) costs a little less, includes 8GB of system memory and delivers nearly identical performance. That's where Asustor's AS6204T let us down.
Some of our previous stories show Asustor giving you more for less money. The company was hungry for sales, so it over-delivered on features at a value-oriented price. In some cases, we found the Asustor option selling for as much as $100 less than competing systems in the same SMB segment.
It wouldn't be fair to say that Asustor changed as much as the market did. QNAP's TS-451+ is radically different from the company's previous efforts in that $600 to $700 range. The system is nearly all plastic and drops some hardware functionality to hit an aggressive price target, while still giving you 8GB of system RAM. Meanwhile, the AS6204T still offers industry-leading I/O, a mostly metal enclosure, metal drive sleds and a front-mounted display. It still looks like a serious piece of hardware and not a plastic toy.
We'd like to think that if Asustor wasn't trying so hard to be the first company with a Braswell-based system, it might have armed the AS6204T with 8GB of system memory. Instead, this appliance launched at a $660 price point. Fortunately, it has dropped almost $100 since then. A lower price makes the AS6240T more competitive against similar configurations.
But the one hardware addition we were hoping would change the game really doesn't. Intel's Braswell architecture offers limited benefit here. Its AES-NI support is nice, but most NAS users don't enable encryption anyway. And while 4K playback on a storage appliance sounds flashy, there are limited applications for it. Again, we don't know many enthusiasts who hook storage servers up to their TVs directly. And Braswell doesn't do much for power consumption; the AS6204T uses just as much power as previous-generation systems from Asustor. In the end, you'll have to make a judgement call on this one. Is $575, before adding hard drives, worth the price of admission, especially compared to QNAP's TS-451+ at $421?