Four-Corner Performance Testing
Several four- and five-drive NAS products go up against QNAP's karaoke-optimized TS-453A, some of which are bound to outperform it. Asustor's AS7004T has a faster host processor, but also costs more. On the other hand, Western Digital's My Cloud DL4100 sports the slowest CPU and lowest price. Everything else falls somewhere in between.
These systems perform similarly when we hit them with sequential reads. As you might expect, throughput is also higher when we test with large blocks of data. And the queue depth benchmarks reveal very little scaling as we intensify the load.
Aside from the Core i3-powered Asustor AS7004T, most of these machines are on fairly equal footing when we write to them sequentially. They utilize low-power SoCs from Marvell and Intel, so this isn't much of a surprise. Fortunately, every platform we're testing delivers exceptional single-workload performance that's likely limited by the upper bound of gigabit Ethernet.
The sweep tests start with 100 percent sequential reads and end with 100 percent sequential writes. The numbers in the middle come from mixing the workloads in 10 percent increments. Our charts show how these systems slow down when they're asked to juggle reads and writes together, even though Ethernet is a full duplex technology.
QNAP's TS-453A follows a slightly different curve than the other systems, which comes from unique tuning. We've noticed the same pattern with the latest QTS firmware on other QNAP appliances. The TS-453A's optimizations result in more performance anywhere from 10 to 70 percent reads when we isolate 128KB blocks.
The TS-453A also performs well in the random read tests, beating competing platforms at a queue depth of one. Asustor's entry fares particularly well at higher queue depths thanks to programming that caches more data in RAM. That speed-up makes it hard to see QNAP shine, though. Fortunately, our exploration into application performance later in the review will give us another opportunity to observe this.
QNAP's latest NAS employs a modern Intel SoC, so we were expecting high random write throughput. But the synthetics don't bear that out. Sure, you can use an SSD to improve these numbers (QNAP enables caching on almost all of its products these days), but then you lose a drive bay for mechanical storage.
Despite the low random writes we observed, the TS-453A handles mixed workloads adeptly. Again, our sweep tests reflect different combinations of reads and writes, in 10 percent increments. Following the line graph, we see random performance increase as more writes hit the buffer. At 100 percent small-block writes, the systems all demonstrate big increases thanks to large DRAM buffers.