by Adam Armstrong

Netstor Mini Dual NA460C Review

The Netstor Mini Dual NA460C is a desktop direct attached storage device in a tiny compact form factor. The NA460C has a built-in hardware RAID processor and support four RAID modes including RAID1, RAID0, SPAN, and JBOD. The device provides a physical option for selecting the desired RAID mode on the back of the device, giving users the option for data protection through RAID1 or maximum storage through SPAN (16TB according to Netstor using two 8TB HDDs). The NA460C also uses USB-C interface.

Using a physical RAID selector makes setting RAID easy and users can know the setting in a glance. It does seem fairly odd to have it, as it will most likely only be used once. But for some professionals, they may have different needs at different times. One project they are working on may require the data to have more protection. Once they are finished they can migrate the data off to a larger NAS or the Cloud. And then the following project may require much more capacity. All they have to do is turn the selector, hold the button, and then they have twice the capacity. This same idea also applies to performance; as they may want to increase performance by switching from RAID1 to RAID0, for say video editing.

One of the big selling points of USB-C is that it comes with reversible plug orientation, in other words it works either way it is plugged in. While this does solve a mild aggravation, the USB-C supports USB 3.1 Gen2 and data throughput up to 10Gbps. And, what is likely more relevant to users, is that more and more devices are using USB-C such as Apple’s new laptop line. 

The Netstor Mini Dual NA460C comes with a 2-year warranty and has a MSRP of $159 (diskless).

Netstor Mini Dual NA460C specifications:

  • Form Factor: 2-bay desktop
  • Host Interface: USB3.1 (Gen2, Type-C)
  • Number of disks: Up to 2 (SATA 6.0 Gb/s)
  • RAID: 0, 1, SPAN, JBOD
  • OS Support: Windows, OSX
  • Physical
    • Dimensions
      • Height: 2.56 in (65 mm)
      • Width: 4.7 in (120 mm)
      • Depth: 8 in (205 mm)
      • Weight: 1.98 lbs. (0.9 Kg) diskless
      • Cooling: 40 x 40 x 10 mm fan
    • Temperature
      • Operating: 0 to 40°C  (32 to 104°F)
      • Non-operating: -10 to 50°C  (-14 to 122°F)
      • Relative Humidity: 20 to 80% (non-condensing)

Design and Build

The Netstor NA460C is only slightly larger than two HDDs stacked on top of one another. It is noticeable smaller than a 2-bay NAS. The overall body is aluminum and has a gold anodized finish. The two drive trays predominantly take up the front of the device. On the left-hand side there are two LED lights for each drive. There is a LED for Power and an LED for the HDD (flashing blue for access, red for failure). There is also a lock for each drive to keep them from being opened while the device is active.

The rear of he device has the fan in the middle with a Kensington Lock and branding beneath it. The left-hand side has the power adaptor and power button. Beneath the power button are four lights that indicate what mode the device is in. On the right-hand side is a switch to adjust the fan speed, the USB-C port, and a physical selector for mode. Once a user selects the mode they need to press and hold the button below the selector and hold it for 5 seconds and they will see the light to the corresponding to their selection on the left-hand side.

Performance

To test the performance of the Netstor NA460C we used the BlackMagic Disk Speed Test on two sets of drives: Seagate NAS 8TB and Samsung 850 Pro 256GB. Again, we are not trying to compare the difference between the drives as the SSDs will always have better performance and (at the time of this writing anyway) HDDs will have more capacity. Instead we are attempting to highlight what users can expect if they chose to use HDDs or SSDs. We tested the NA460C in both RAID1 and RAID0.

We tested the drives using a current generation MacBook BlackMagic Disk Speed Test with a 5GB test file. With two Seagate NAS 8TB the Netstor NA460C was able to hit 221.4MB/s write and 223.2MB/s read in RAID1. Switching over to RAID0 we saw a write speed of 387.4MB/s and a read speed of 410.1MB/s.

We switched over to two Samsung 850 Pro 256GB and in RAID1 we saw write speeds of 419.7MB/s and read speeds of 428.3MB/s. Switching over to RAID0 we saw didn’t see a performance improvement that we expected. In write we saw speeds of 420.5MB/s and read speeds of 429.1MB/s. The 12” MacBook’s USB-C port is limited to 5Gbps, meaning users won’t see performance over that.

To further prove that the limitation was with the test bed and not the device we switched over to our HP Z1 all-in-one workstation to retest RAID0. On the sequential 2MB test we saw write speeds of 747.35MB/s and read speeds of 807.46MB/s. These results are more inline with what we expected. 

Conclusion

The Netstor mini Dual NA460C is a RAID storage device in a tiny compact form factor. The device supports up to 16TB of storage (with two 8TB HDDs). The interface is a USB-C meaning that it works regardless of which direction it is plugged in. Not only can the USB-C be plugged in either direction, it is becoming a more commonly used interface with newer devices. The NA460C has a physical RAID mode selector on the back of the device, enabling a quick and easy way to select the mode or see what mode the device is running in.

Looking at performance, the Netstor NA460C hit numbers as high as 410.1MB/s read and 387.4MB/s write using HDDs, in this case Seagate NAS 8TB. The NA460C also support SSDs. With two Samsung 850 Pros, we saw performance as high as 429.1MB/s read and 420.5MB/s write. Since the MacBook USB-C port only supports 5Gbps the SSD performance is limited. To show the true potential of the NA460C we used our HP Z1 all-in-one workstation and with the 2MB sequential tests we saw 747.35MB/s write and 807.46MB/s read.

Pros

  • Easy Manual RAID mode adjustment
  • User adjustable fan speed (very quiet operation)
  • Strong performance with HDDs or SSDs

Cons

  • Some USB-C devices may not support the full potential of the enclosure

The Bottom Line

The Netstor mini Dual RAID is a very compact desktop storage device with the ability to easy set RAID mode, and support for most commercially available drives.

Netstor mini Dual RAID NA460C product page

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