Platform shift hobbles Netgear’s latest ‘prosumer’ NAS
THE CPU WARS aren’t just about x86 procs, PCs, and phones. The second version of Netgear’s ReadyNAS Duo makes the move from an older Sun SPARC chip to ARM, and the transition isn’t pretty.
Netgear’s ReadyNAS Duo v2 uses a single-core Marvell 1.6GHz ARM processor and 256MB of memory. Two sliding hard drive bays are hidden behind the front door and support two drives in capacities up to 3TB each. The ReadyNAS Duo v2 ships in three configurations: empty, half populated (1TB), and fully populated (2x 1TB). We tested the last option, which came with two Seagate Barracuda 7200.12 drives. The chassis is steel and aluminum, not plastic like some other two-bay NAS devices.
The ReadyNAS Duo v2 supports JBOD, RAID 0, RAID 1, and X-RAID2 drive configurations. X-RAID2 is a configuration from Netgear that allows for dynamically expanding your volume by adding more drives—a carryover, one assumes, from Netgear’s larger NAS boxes, as it’s not useful in a two-bay NAS. The back of the NAS features two USB 3.0 ports, a single Gigabit Ethernet jack, and a power plug that connects to an external 60W power supply. A USB 2.0 port is located on the front of the device, along with the power button and LEDs to indicate drive and USB status. A single 9cm case fan on the rear of the NAS takes care of cooling while keeping the noise level to a low hum.
The latest budget NAS from Netgear sacrifices performance and features for cost, but there’s still value to be had.
Netgear uses two utilities for managing the ReadyNAS Duo v2: RAIDar is a PC-based tool used to scan your network for ReadyNAS devices and provides shortcuts to configure or browse your NAS. RAIDiator is the web utility used to configure and monitor your NAS. Out of the box, the ReadyNAS Duo v2 supports DLNA, allowing you to stream music, pictures, and video to a wide range of devices. The RAIDiator console also allows you to create scheduled backup jobs that can target NAS shares, USB drives, or PC shares. These backups can be stored in either NAS shares or connected USB drives, and can be easily configured to run on a schedule or manually when the device’s backup button is pressed.
We weren’t expecting the ReadyNAS Duo v2 to smoke our benchmarks, but the numbers were still a bit underwhelming compared to most of the units from our November 2011 roundup. Copying a single 2.79GB file averaged 54 seconds writing to the NAS—about half the speed of the speedier units from our November shootout. Copying from our NAS to our PC took about 42 seconds—about 30 seconds slower than those units. Our 659MB collection of smaller files and folders took 18 seconds to write and 14 seconds to read. To be fair, the shootout featured far-pricier four-bay units (most with x86 processors) and in practical use we found the ReadyNas v2’s performance to be more than acceptable, particularly for the price.
Netgear’s move to ARM has as much of an impact on software options as performance—which is to say, not a good one. ReadyNAS devices usually have access to a wide range of add-ons from Netgear or third parties via the community at ReadyNAS.com, but the vast majority aren’t compatible with the ARM-based ReadyNAS Duo v2 and ReadyNAS NV+ v2. The most notable add-ons that are available are ReadyNAS Photos II, a tool that provides an easy method for sharing your photo collection, and ReadyNAS Remote, which allows you to remotely access the files on your NAS from your PC or iOS/Android device.
The biggest problem for the ReadyNAS Duo v2 is the competition. Synology’s DS212j, for example, ships diskless for $200—the same price as the diskless ReadyNAS Duo v2, but the Synology has more functionality and greater add-on support, since Synology hasn’t just switched CPU platforms. Granted, the Duo v2 has USB 3.0 ports, and the Synology doesn’t. The Duo v2’s switch to ARM may have its benefits, but it breaks add-on compatibility and leaves the Duo v2’s software ecosystem playing catch-up.
Netgear ReadyNAS Duo v2
Two USB 3.0 ports make for easy expansion; strong build quality.
ARM platform limits add-on availability and performance.