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Performance

The 5bigPro was tested with 3.0.5.5 firmware, using our NAS test process with RAID 0 and 5 volumes. In addition, we ran tests comparing RAID5 and SimplyRAID. As is our standard practice, four drives were configured in each volume type.

With two exceptions, Windows File Copy tests show well-matched read and write throughput across all tested volume formats. The exceptions were RAID 5 file copy Write Performance (83.6MB/s) and RAID 0 NASPT File Copy From NAS (66.6 MB/s). Highest write throughput measured was 118.2 MB/s for RAID 0 NASPT File copy to NAS and highest read was 103.6 MB/s also for RAID 0 File Copy Read Performance.

LaCie 5big NAS Pro benchmark summary

LaCie 5big NAS Pro benchmark summary

Intel NASPT File Copy results measured about 15 MB/s higher for write operations for both RAID 0 and RAID 5. For read operations there was a very different story. For RAID 0, Robocopy file copy was 40MB/s faster than NASPT and 29MB/s faster than NASPT on RAID 5. These results indicate that LaCie still has some work to do in performance tuning.

Performance - Comparative

To put the LaCie 5bigPro's performance in perspective, we decided to compare the Synology DS-412+ and the QNAP TS-469L. All three devices use an Intel D2700 dual core Atom processor running at 2.13 GHz. And while the LaCie 5bigPro is a five bay device and the other two are four bay devices, for our standard tests we test with four drives.

The table below summarizes RAID 5 File copy and NASPT File copy results for all three NASes. Except for File Copy Read, you probably would be able to tell the difference between 5bigPro and the other NASes in real-world use.

LaCie 5big NAS Pro comparative performance

LaCie 5big NAS Pro comparative performance

Attached backup tests were run with our standard Startech USB 3.0 eSATA to SATA Hard Drive Docking Station (SATDOCKU3SEF) containing a WD Velociraptor WD3000HLFS 300 GB drive. For this test, the 5bigPro tied or won the four tests that it participated in. Best backup throughput of 117.5 MB/s was obtained using the USB3 port and an NTFS-formatted drive. Very impressive!

Attached backup comparative performance

Attached backup comparative performance

iSCSi Performance tests yielded some unexpected results: The 5bigPro outperformed its competition on the iSCSI Read test but had less than half the write performance of the QNAP. For comparison, the QNAP 469L fell just short of the top of our iSCSI Write chart. That position is held by another QNAP device - the TS-1079 Pro.

iSCSI Comparative performance

iSCSI Comparative performance
Network backup to a DeltaCopy target on our NAS Testbed system measured 36.6 MB/s. For comparison, best network backup measured to date is still 44 MB/s with a NETGEAR ReadyNAS Pro 2. The 5bigPro lands right in the middle of the three products we compared.
Comparative Network Backup Test Results
Comparative Network Backup Test Results

Use the NAS Charts to further explore and compare the N10850's performance

Performance - SimplyRAID vs. RAID 5

The table below compares the performance of a four-drive RAID 5 configuration with that of the SimplyRAID configuration. The largest performance difference of around 14% was seen in the NASPT Directory Copy From NAS (read) and Content Creation benchmarks. The Directory Copy test reads 236 MB consisting of 2,833 files in 44 folders, while the Content Creation test is 95% writes with a mix of 1k, 4k & little reads with a wide range of mostly sequential writes with file sizes up to 64kB.

SimplyRAID RAID5 % Diff
FileCopyToNAS 97.85 98.09 -0.3
FileCopyFromNAS 75.48 72.47 4.0
DirectoryCopyToNAS 16.96 16.56 2.4
DirectoryCopyFromNAS 17.36 19.88 -14.5
ContentCreation 7.00 7.58 -8.3
OfficeProductivity 45.60 46.25 -1.4
HDVideo_1Play_1Record 44.02 47.16 -7.1
HDVideo_4Play 103.89 106.69 -2.7
Win File Copy Write 76.42 83.59 -9.4
Win File Copy Read 101.61 101.53 0.1
WD RE vs. Red Performance

In contrast, the Office Productivity test, which has a balance of reads and writes of smallish files shows very little difference in performance. The advantages that you gain with SimplyRAID, including up to two drive failure tolerance and the ability to mix capacities and expand the array would make choosing SimplyRAID a no brainer for me.

Closing Thoughts

The more things change, the more they stay the same. Like its predecessors in the 5big line, the 5bigPro still blurs the line between business and consumer-oriented NASes. The 5bigPro appears to have carried forward the new features such as built-in media servers, energy management modes and print server that were added the 5big Network 2. But little else has changed to move the balance more towards the consumer. In fact, given the difficulties I had with the iTunes server and the photos on the DLNA server, the 5bigPro seems to have taken a step backwards.

The 5bigPro 2 still lacks photo serving and remote media access features found in the more consumer-oriented NASes like Synology and QNAP. Yes, though I was able to configure the 5bigPro for remote access, I wasn't expecting to have to manually configure port forwarding in my router. For me, it's no big deal, but many consumers would find the task intimidating. Products like the Seagate GoFlex Home and WD My Book Live and Live Duo are miles ahead when it comes to seamlessly setting up remote access, DDNS and file and photo sharing through dedicated portals, i.e. seagateshare.com and wd2go.com.

However, LaCie has made some major strides forward with the 5bigPro. First and foremost is their new SimplyRAID technology that allows you to use a mixture of drive sizes and expand storage without having to back up everything, reformat and restore everything. And, importantly you can have up to two drives fail and still not lose data. In a 5 X 2 TB configuration with SimplyRAID, you get 6TB of usable, fault-tolerant storage.

LaCie also stepped up its game from a hardware perspective. By upping the processor to an Atom D2700 running at 2.13GHz like its competitors, the performance of the 5bigPro has improved significantly and in many cases runs neck and neck with its competition. There are, however, a few exceptions that we pointed out in the performance section above.

The addition of a cloud component is also a welcome step forward. Wuala appears to have many features aimed at businesses such as providing employees with access to files on the NAS. But from a consumer standpoint, I'm not sure what it brings to the party. I already have the ability to share files/folders and synchronize across multiple platforms using Sugarsync, and I was able to do it without having a NAS and a virtual filesystem involved. For me, Wuala isn't a deal closer. And more notably, LaCie's "hybrid cloud" solution ignores a feature that business users may value more than client storage and sync—the ability to back up the NAS itself (or select folders) to secure cloud storage

LaCie has also improved its network backup capability. It has NAS-to-NAS backup as well as NAS to rsync-compatible NAS backup. It still lacks real-time replication capabilities found on Buffalo and other NASes, however. Finally, like its predecessor, the 5bigPro could benefit from better logging and email alerts for more events.

The good news is that the 5bigPro excels in value. The table below shows comparative pricing for diskless models from Amazon as of this writing. And, if you're looking for a fully populated NAS, Amazon has a 5 X 2TB (10 TB) 5bigPro for $1084. A fully-populated 8 TB Synology DS-412+ (4 X 2TB) would run you $1613 or almost 50% more.

BYOD NAS Amazon Price Comparison

BYOD NAS Amazon Price Comparison

The conclusion this time is the same as when we reviewed the 5big Network 2. If you need a lot of storage at a reasonable price and can live fewer features, the LaCie 5big NAS Pro is a good choice. Only this time, you don't need to sacrifice so much performance.

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