Mainstream consumers and businesspeople are starting to clue in on how important a factor like speed can be – after all, the less time someone spends transferring files, the greater the time they can spend on work projects.
DTR ran a number of tests on the BlackArmor 220 to determine its functional read and write performance across a Gigabit-enabled network replete with Cat 6 cabling. Testing was conducted from a 12-core Intel Xeon Workstation with a 500GB Seagate Barracuda 7200.12 hard drive.
CrystalDiskMark 3.0 benchmark results:
|Test||RAID 1||RAID 0|
|Speed (in MB/s)|
|Random Read 512kB||13.809||21.552|
|Random Write 512kB||9.917||13.607|
|Random Read 4kB (QD=1)||0.630||0.655|
|Random Write 4kB (QD=1)||0.940||2.675|
|Random Read 4kB (QD=32)||
|Random Write 4kB (QD=32)||3.092||3.324|
Intel NAS Performance Toolkit benchmark results:
|Test||RAID 1||RAID 0|
|Speed (in MB/s)|
|HD Video Playback||18.8||26.0|
|2x HD Playback||26.1||30.8|
|4x HD Playback||30.1||36.2|
|HD Video Record||44.7||52.6|
|HD Playback and Record||17.4||19.4|
|File copy to NAS||10.2||17.0|
|File copy from NAS||22.3||27.3|
|Dir copy to NAS||3.0||2.0|
|Dir copy from NAS||9.0||9.9|
The biggest and most noticeable fact about the BlackArmor NAS 220’s performance is that throughput over the network varies wildly depending on the task at hand. That should come as no surprise to anyone who has ever copied a directory full of tiny files on their big, fast hard drive, only to cry at the low transfer rates. Copying over a directory full of Steam games, the NAS managed an average speed of 25MB/s, which isn’t bad, though it isn’t as high as some other options we’ve seen.
Switching between RAID 1 and RAID 0 did yield a slight but noticeable improvement, almost across the board. Unless users really the need the additional space that turning off RAID 1 would provide, the performance increases don’t really seem to be worth it.
If extra space is required, instead of activating RAID 0, which stripes data across the disks, implementing spanning, or JBOD, is a worthy consideration. That way, if one of the disks should suffer from a fatal fault, some of the data can possibly be salvaged (an unlikely scenario should the RAID 0 setup fail).
Power and noise
The BlackArmor 220 pulled up essentially the exact same numbers as did the BlackArmor 420. That’s no real surprise, considering both NAS units came preconfigured with two hard drives and similar internal circuitry. This time around, the NAS fluctuated often between drawing 23 and 30 watts of electricity, resting most of the time around 25W.
When the unit is first activated, the fans spinning up are definitely noticeable. They quiet down after a few seconds, however, and aren’t really much of an issue unless the device is sitting in a very quiet environment. Most of the detectable noise comes from the hard drive activity. These five platter, 3TB drives are not quiet – when in active use the hard drive noise can be heard across a quiet room, or, in a noisier environment, at least across the desk.
While the market of externally-attached storage is growing all the time, there don’t seem to be that many big-time players that still cater to the small business user. Obviously Seagate and Western Digital are two, leveraging the power of their respective manufacturing businesses. Other options, like Synology, use others’ hard drives and concentrate on making the best enclosures.
The BlackArmor lineup feels at home with its intended customers. As a small business product, it offers a number of features – Active Directory, webservers, ftp server, print sharing, etc – targeted at the business workplace and some, like iTunes library sharing, by which even home users might be tempted. In practice, the units are easy to use with just a few quirks, but less experienced computer users may find they need to call upon someone with a bit of IT experience.
It used to be that in order to provide any meaningful amount of storage, network attached storage devices required a minimum of four or even eight or more bays. Now that options like the 3TB Barracuda XT (or Western Digital’s 3TB Caviar Green) are available, these two drive units suddenly seem much more worthwhile. In all, the BlackArmor NAS 220 provides middling throughput and big storage – with a pricetag to match.
- Average throughput speeds
- Solid build and design
- 3TB drives = lots of storage
- New 3TB drives are loud
- Constant 25W power draw
- A bit pricey