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Asustor AS6204T NAS Review

Conclusion

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?


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Chris Ramseyer is a Contributing Editor for Tom's Hardware, covering Storage. Follow him on Twitter and on Facebook.

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  • JQB45
    I wish they would just sell the case in mITX size. Then I could add more own OS and other hardware.
    Reply
  • UKVamp_1
    2 x 2gb sodimm and the max 4 tb ram ????
    Reply
  • Lutfij
    UKVamp_1
    1GB for each TB thus 4GB = 4TB max storage capacity.
    Reply
  • littleleo
    I have the ASUSTOR AS-202TE hooked to my living room TV. Some of the apps are just not functioning as promised but for what I paid it was a good deal.
    Reply
  • CRamseyer
    8GB max for the system memory. The limitation is from Intel on this processor / chipset.
    Reply
  • HideOut
    Again, just get a Buffalo 441e and put your own drives in it. It's not as fact, but its about $190 for the system + whatever 4 drives you use.
    Reply
  • Xajel
    I'm looking for a 4-bay NAS, it will be my first one.. but I need three more features: Link Aggregation, Upgradable RAM & Visualization.. I know there's multiple options including this I'm not in hurry for the matter.. but why do you guys make a comparison table in each review...
    Reply
  • DaDude1
    I wish they would just sell the case in mITX size. Then I could add more own OS and other hardware.

    There are cases like this available. I looked at them a few month ago (approx. $180 for 5 bays), but finally settled on a node304 (6 internal bays) for my home server. I got the case for $50 (on sale on newegg), added the ASROCK H97 ITX with WLAN ($50 on sale), Celeron G3258 ($44) and CX430 powersupply ($10 after sale and rebate). The memory I used from my desktop (had 32 GB, so removed 16GB and added into the server) and I had as well 4 x 3TB WD Green in my desktop, which I added to the server (plus an old 120GB SSD as boot drive). I added as well a 8TB Seagate external ($200 on sale) and a 5TB Seagate external (paid $120 a while back) via USB3 for backups of the system. Got Windows 2012 R2 DataCenter from Microsoft (free educational license). Running right now on the box Home NAS, MediaConverter, Linux VM (OwnCloud), MSSQL VM, Windows Access Server VM and Windows Remote App/Desktop VM. I have approx. 7 GB Memory free on the box, which leaves plenty for additional VM's. The only disappointing aspect of this HomeNas/Server build is MS Storage Spaces or more specifically it's implementation of RAID5. I get with mirrored drives plenty of throughput, but writing to a RAID5 volume is running between 25 and 30 MB/s after the cache is used up. So when I transfer large volumes of data (some Datasets I use for analysis are in excess of 1TB), take forever to transfer to the volume. Overall the box cost me approx. $250 (excluding harddrives) and I take this anytime over any of the NAS boxes. I tried some of the NAS boxes (QNAP, Synology) and was very disappointed. If you have a bit of time (took me approx. 1 hour to build and approx. 6 hours to install and configure Windows 2012 R2) this would certainly be a better choice.
    Getting back to cases look at the following:
    Silverstone DS380 (8 hot-swap plus 4 x 2.5 internal) for $160
    I believe Startech USA had a case that looked like the Asus or QNAP 4 bay units for approx. $180.

    Reply
  • JQB45
    @DaDude1 - I like the SilverStone DS380B you mentioned.

    Here is a custom build using the SilverStone DS380B that costs less then a Diskless Asustor AS6204T NAS

    PCPartPicker part list / Price breakdown by merchant
    CPU: Intel Pentium G4400 3.3GHz Dual-Core Processor ($59.99 @ SuperBiiz)
    Motherboard: ASRock H110M-ITX/ac Mini ITX LGA1151 Motherboard ($67.99 @ SuperBiiz)
    Memory: Kingston Savage 8GB (2 x 4GB) DDR4-2400 Memory ($49.99 @ Newegg)
    Storage: Samsung 850 EVO-Series 500GB 2.5" Solid State Drive ($149.45 @ OutletPC)
    Case: Silverstone DS380B Mini ITX Tower Case ($144.98 @ Newegg)
    Power Supply: SeaSonic 300W 80+ Certified SFX Power Supply ($39.99 @ SuperBiiz)
    Other: Linux - CentOS ($0.00)
    Total: $512.39
    Prices include shipping, taxes, and discounts when availableGenerated by PCPartPicker 2016-04-17 05:11 EDT-0400
    All thats left to add is the hard drives.
    Reply
  • CRamseyer
    Great, so who do you call for support if something doesn't work right? Also, Linux isn't exactly user friendly for people coming from Windows. You are comparing apples to oranges here.
    Reply