Thecus W4000+ Windows Powered 4-Bay NAS

Storage
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TESTING

System Configuration:


Test configuration device listing.

Connecting System Configuration:

Measurement and Analysis Tools

Testing Procedures

The first portion of our testing procedures consists of traditional CPU based performance testing using our standard test suite (a couple of our tests cannot be run in Windows Storage Server 2012 and are thus omitted). This isn't a typical usage model for a server but it does provide a good baseline for comparison. These benchmarks are conducted with only the drive housing the operating system.

Secondly, network performance tests (using a RAID-5 array) are conducted from a designated machine connected to the same unmanaged D-Link gigabit switch network switch in our lab (nothing special about our network — all our hardware is consumer grade). LAN Speed Test is used as a benchmarking tool, configured to transfer 10 successive packets of 1MB, 10MB, and 100MB, back and forth between the two machines. A timed manual file transfer of a batch of 99 files of various sizes totaling 1738MB is also performed. These tests were conducted three times each way with the results averaged.

Lastly, we come to environmental testing. The system is put through various load states while system temperatures, power consumption, and noise are recorded.

Setup & Initial Impressions

After entering in the necessary information to complete the Server 2012 Essentials setup, I found more than 2GB of Windows updates awaiting, which took about half a day to complete. Sadly, the maximum screen resolution was limited to 1280x1024 using the VGA port. The integrated GMA 3650 graphics was using the generic Microsoft display driver as it's not officially supported by 64-bit versions of Windows. I found a beta driver online that some users were able to use with success, but couldn't get it working. This is a shame as the IGP has some HD decoding capabilities and the server has audio output which should allow it to function as a competent media player. Video playback instead relies on CPU-intensive software decoding which is incredibly limiting. The unit was unable to render any 1080p or 720p content smoothly.


LaunchPad menu and Dashboard login screen.


Dashboard.

Managing the server from a client PC can be tedious as it creates a new domain on the network. Microsoft's Connect software has to be installed to interface with the server, and by default, this necessitates creating a new login on the client machine. Thankfully there is a simple registry edit that can be entered before setup that will bypass this requirement. Once you do this, proceed with the Connect installation normally and it will provide a shortcut to run the LaunchPad application. Click on the Dashboard, enter in your credentials, and you're in.

Initially, testing was wrought with difficulty. The server would sometimes lock up and stop responding to the keyboard and mouse for long stretches of time. Once the screen locked, a few minutes wait was virtually guaranteed before the unit would start responding again. Sometimes keystrokes would appear but only after a significant delay. I managed to perform the first batch of tests but it was a frustrating experience. I had to watch the CPU performance tests in their entirety to make sure it didn't freeze up. CPU usage during network file transfers sometimes eclipsed 90%, and if it lasted longer than a minute, it would simply stop, or pause and resume only at a much slower speed.

Adding 4 x 4TB Seagate NAS HDDs to the server and creating a RAID-5 array was surprisingly completed without a hitch, though it took approximately 54 hours in total. After this, the server became noticeably more stable. The unresponsiveness became far less frequent. A few days after that, all the problems disappeared completely, and the W4000+ was working as expected. The system never locked up and CPU usage decreased. While the machine got bogged down when working on anything intensive, it never failed to respond to my inputs. Network file transfers completed without difficulty.

I can only conclude that the original problems were caused by some background/setup processes happening under the hood, and because the CPU is a bit of a dinosaur, it took an unusually long period of time to finish. After these processes were done, the server worked perfectly, at least from an operational standpoint. Unfortunately a lot of test data had to tossed, but I didn't mind now that my urge to hurl the machine had waned.



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