HOW WE TEST
As usual, we’ve awarded star ratings out of five to the products in this month’s Labs. This rating takes into account each appliance’s strengths and weaknesses in several areas.
The first is performance: we tested this by using the CrystalDiskMark benchmark and a selection of real-world file-copy operations on each drive, to get an idea of how quickly it could read and write both large single files and folders full of tiny files. As our graphs show, most models proved capable of saturating a Gigabit Ethernet link, but some fell behind the pace.
We also factor in the range of features on offer. If a NAS unit offers a good selection of physical connectors, versatile management options and a wide range of apps, this contributes to a high score. Power consumption is another consideration: you’ll see our measured power consumption for each fully populated drive, while sitting idle and while streaming video. Note that most appliances can be configured to spin down the hard disks after an idle period, which typically reduces power consumption by around 4W per installed disk.
Finally, we look at value for money – not merely considering the price, but whether it’s justified by the performance and features on offer. Factoring all of these considerations together, we arrive at our overall star rating.