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NAS Reviews

Performance - HD Tune

This was my first experience with HD Tune, so forgive me if I err in interpreting its results. I started by running the Benchmark test, which runs on an unformatted drive partition, with the UMP in RAID 0 and 1 modes with an eSATA connection. I didn't bother testing with the USB 2.0 connection, since I know from the file copy results that it limits performance.

Figure 8 shows the result plot. The line trace represents write speed in MBytes per second, plotted across all sectors of the array. Since the outer sectors of a disk have a higher rotational velocity, we can assume that the test moves from the outer (0%) to inner (100%) to inner sectors. The average of 102.4 MB/s correlates pretty well with the 107.99 MB/s obtained with the Vista File copy.

HD Tune Benchmark - RAID 0 Write

Figure 8: HD Tune Benchmark - RAID 0 Write

Figure 9 displays the read benchmark results, which average around 81 MB/s. This is in the ballpark of the 75 and 83 MB/s readings for the file copy RAID 0 tests for FAT 32 and NTFS formats. More importantly, the lower read results correlate with the lower read results we found with the file copy test.

HD Tune Benchmark - RAID 0 Read

Figure 9: HD Tune Benchmark - RAID 0 Read

HD Tune also provides a File Benchmark test, which I also tried. This test writes and reads a test file of selectable size (I used 512 MB) using block sizes ranging from 0.5 KB to 8192 KB (x-axis). Figure 10 shows the results for a FAT32 formatted RAID 0 array. I'm not quite sure how to evaluate the results, since the block size used in file operations isn't something that is under user control. Peak performance is reached at the 128 KB block size and stays flat after that.

HD Tune File Benchmark - RAID 0, FAT32

Figure 10: HD Tune File Benchmark - RAID 0, FAT32

Figures 11, 12 and 13 are the equivalents of the previous three plots, but with the UMP's two drives configured in RAID 1.

HD Tune Benchmark - RAID 1 Write

Figure 11: HD Tune Benchmark - RAID 1 Write

As expected, RAID 1 performance is lower than RAID 0. But the 61.7 MB/s average write correlates pretty well with the 62 and 63 MB/s measured via file copy. Read is also lower at 55.2 MB/s, but it again doesn't correlate as well with the 63 and 75 MB/s obtained with file copy.

HD Tune Benchmark - RAID 1 Read

Figure 12: HD Tune Benchmark - RAID 1 Read

The File Benchmark results for RAID 1 shown in Figure 13 show a different pattern from RAID 0. Performance continues to climb, although more slowly, after 64 KB block size, with read speeds even exceeding writes at some of the higher block sizes.

HD Tune File Benchmark - RAID 0, FAT32

Figure 13: HD Tune File Benchmark - RAID 1, FAT32

My bottom line from all this is that I will probably use Vista SP1 file copy and HD Tune write and read benchmarks going forward and dispense with using iozone and HD Tune File Benchmark tests for DAS testing. Of course, I am interested in your thoughts on this.

Closing Thoughts

This is my first DAS review, so my ability to compare the UltraMax Pro to other RAID DASes is limited. But I can say that it is easy to use with a SATA or eSATA equipped system—pretty much plug and play. It's also pretty fast if you like to live a bit dangerously and use it configured in RAID 0. But 50 to 60 MB/s RAID 1 performance isn't too bad either, if you opt for that safer mode.

The big downsides for the UMP are its relatively high power consumption, noise and cryptic front panel indicators that appear to be improperly documented. And while data seemed to survive the RAID 1 fail test, the lack of a RAID rebuild progress indicator and / or some sort of status monitor utility would make me feel a lot better.

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