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Performance

IOzone was used to check out the file system performance on the Central Axis (the full testing setup and methodology are described on this page). The test unit had the latest 3.4.90 firmware. We tested it with 100 Mbps, 1000 Mbps and 1000 Mbps with 4k jumbo LAN connections.

If you compare the performance of the Central Axis to all NAS products, it comes in fairly low on the NAS Charts.  However, if you compare it to other single drive NAS products with gigabit Ethernet ports and media servers, the results are quite different. 

Using this comparison criterion, for 1000 Mbps write performance, the Central Axis ranked third in the charts with an average throughput of 14.1 MB/sec

NAS Chart write rank - single drive, gigabit LAN

Figure 13: NAS Chart write rank - single drive, gigabit LAN

However, on read performance, average results were a bit more disappointing with the Central Axis coming in ninth with an average throughput of 12.1 MB/sec

NAS Chart read rank - single drive, gigabit LAN

Figure 14: NAS Chart read rank - single drive, gigabit LAN

Comparing the three benchmark tests that we ran, Figure 15 shows that the Marvell CPU provides enough processing power to take advantage of the gigabit Ethernet connection and even 4k jumbo frames when writing. (Maximum possible uncached throughput with a 100 Mbps LAN connection is 12.5 MB/sec).

Write benchmark comparison

Figure 15: Write benchmark comparison

Figure 16 shows a similar picture for reads.

Read benchmark comparison

Figure 16: Read benchmark comparison

Figure 17 shows why the CA ranks lower in the read charts than in the write. Basically, caching effects at smaller filesizes boost the average throughput for the Large filesizes (from 32 MB to 1 GB). Once filesizes exceed the CA's 64 MB of RAM, write and read performance is just about equal.

Write/read comparison - 1000 Mbps LAN

Figure 17: Write / read comparison - 1000 Mbps LAN

If you'd like to look at detailed throughput vs. filesize charts or make detailed product-to-product comparisons, use the NAS Charts.

Closing Thoughts

The Maxtor Central Axis has a list price of $319.95, but it's available on Pricegrabber.com for as low as $219 at the time of review. For a 1TB NAS, that's a great value.  By comparison, the fastest single drive NAS, the DS-107+, sells for $289 and that's without a drive. 

Granted, both the Synology and the QNAP NAS products that rank above the Central Axis in write performance include additional features such as a built-in web server with MySQL capabilities, FTP capabilities, and Photo-sharing. But if you're not going to use those features, why pay for them?  The CA also compares favorably in performance and features to Buffalo's Linkstations and leaves Western Digitals MyBook Worlds in the dust in performance.

For many people, the hassle-free built-in file access via web browser will be all that they need.  If you're still in doubt, the Limited 5 year warranty from Maxtor could seal the deal for you.

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