September 23rd, 2017 by Lyle Smith
Netstor NA333TB3 Thunderbolt DAS Review
The Netstor NA333TB3 is a 16-bay Thunderbolt 3 Storage and PCIe Expansion solution designed for power users that need high local bandwidth with the ability to access multiple PCIe cards over a USB-C interface. The NA333TB3 does just that; Netstor has ensured that organizations and professionals can use virtually any RAID card model as well as other PCIe devices, allowing them to customize their builds based on their own use cases and demands. With a 16-port storage bays and three PCIe slots, the NA333TB3 can be used as an enterprise RAID storage solution with room for networking cards or other devices as well.
The 16-bay chassis features hot-swappable drive trays that support SSD/2.5" HDD and 3.5" hard drives. When each bay is outfitted with a 10TB HDD, the NA333TB3 is capable of presenting a massive total usable storage pool of 160TB in RAID0. In addition, its three internal PCIe 3.0 slots allows organizations to expand the NA333TB3 via a range of specialty PCIe cards. Though the RAID adapter card will need to take up one of those spots, users can still add two additional cards such as video capture, video transcoding, audio accelerator, or a network card.
Using the Thunderbolt 3 interface, Netstor claims the NA333TB3 can offer bandwidth speeds up to 2.75GB/s.
Netstor NA333TB3 Specifications
- Host Interface: Thunderbolt 3 (Dual Port USB-C for Daisy Chain)
- Data Transfer Rate: 40Gbps
- HDD Interface: LSAS/SATA (6G/3Gbps)
- No. of Disk(s): Up to 16 (For 2.5" or 3.5" HDD & sold separately)
- RAID Levels: Requires a RAID card with internal 16 port and Thunderbolt driver(RAID card sold separately)
- PCIe Slot Expansion: Three PCIe3.0 x8 slots
- Thunderbolt Expansion: Up to Six Thunderbolt devices
- LED Display for Enclosure: Fan normal - Green; Fan failure - Red
- Temp. normal - Green; Temp. over 50°C - Red
- LED Display for each Tray:
- White - Power On Indicator
- Flash Blue - HDD Accessing Indicator
- Red - HDD Failure Indicator
- Alarm: Mutable buzzer beeping for fan failure or over temperature occurs
- Material: Heavy-duty cold-rolled steel Housing
- Power Supply:
- 500W Redundant PSU (High-Efficiency & Low Noise)
- Input: 90-230 VAC/50-60 HZ
- Output: +5V and +12V
- 559(D) x 482(W) x 131(H) mm
- 22 (D) x 19 (W) x 5.16 (H) inch
- Cooling: Three 90 x90 x25 mm
- System Support: MacBook Pro (2016) with a Thunderbolt 3 port
- O.S. Support: Mac OS X 10.12.3 above
- PCIe card Driver Request: Third-party PCIe card should support Mac OS with Thunderbolt aware's driver
- PCIe card Size Available: Full length and full height PCIe card
- Operating Temperature: 5 to 40°C (41 to 104°F)
- Storage Temperature: -10 to 50°C (14 to 122°F)
- Relative Humidity: 20 to 80% (non-condensing)
Design and Build
The NA333TB3 is of a 3U form factor that sports a rugged, cold-rolled steel housing chassis. All drive trays are accessed from the front panel, which takes up the vast majority of this heavy-duty storage solution. Each has its own individual tray lock, and HDD power and HDD status LED.
Both sides of the NA333TB3 have a sturdy handle to help move the device into a rack, while the top right is home to the mute button as well as a fan status and temperature LEDs. There is also ventilation that runs along the top center of the front panel next to the Netstor branding.
Turning around to the back side shows the two power supplies on the left, each of which has its own dual fans, power switch, and power cord receptacle. At the center is the 90x90mm hot-swappable cooling fan next to the two Thunderbolt 3 connectors.
Opening up the top cover shows the Thunderbolt 3 target card, which comes already installed. The three remaining slots include the PCIe slot #2(open-type; supports PCIe card x16/x8/x4/x1). Netstor recommends using the RAID card in this particular one since it’s the closest to HDD backplane connectors. The two remaining slots 3 and 4 support closed type PCIe x8/x4/x1 and open-type PCIe x16/x8/x4/x1, respectively.
To test the NA333TB3, we connected it to the most recent HP ZBook 15 G4 workstation through an Adaptec RAID 81605ZQ RAID card. We ran RAID0 across 16 x Toshiba HK3R2 SSDs. We also tested its performance via the RD400 M.2 SSD, which was installed inside its own M.2 sled.
Looking at our large file 2MB sequential performance, the NA333TB3 was able to reach 2,506MB/s read and 2,457MB/s write when populated with the Toshiba SSDs in the drive bays. As expected, the RD400 m.2 SSD did well with 1,252.90MB/s read along with equally fast write performance at 1,228.56MB/s.
In random 2MB performance, the NA333TB3 continued to show solid performance. When testing the transfer speeds of the Netstore device via the drive bays with the Toshiba HK3R2 SSDs, we saw 2,505MB/s read and 2,465MB/s write. The M.2 drive showed 1,252.36MB/s read and 1,232.341083MB/s write.
The Netstor NA333TB3 is a 16-bay DAS solution that features Thunderbolt 3 connectivity for some pretty speedy performance, as demonstrated above, along with a massive storage pool of up to 160TB. This makes it ideal for businesses and power users that require fast, locally attached storage. Netstor has also made this a highly versatile device, as it supports pretty much all brands and models of RAID cards. The extra PCIe slots give users a ton of options to work with as well.
We tested the NA333TB3 in a variety of different configurations connected to a HP ZBook 15 G4. Leveraging the 16 drive bays connected to an Adaptec SAS3 RAID card, we recorded some great transfer speeds, with 2,506MB/s read and 2,457MB/s write when populated with enterprise Toshiba SSDs. Results made it clear that (as expected) a M.2 expansion slot adds a ton of flexibility and would certainly be a viable option to store hot data on. For example, when we equipped the NA333TB3 with an RD400 M.2 SSD, we recorded transfer read and write speeds with 1,252.90MB/s and 1,228.56MB/s, respectively, during our 2MB sequential test.
Overall the Netstor NA333TB3 gives users some lots of choice when it comes to expanding storage on devices with USB-C connectivity. This could include notebooks, such as the HP ZBook 15 we tested, or workstations that don't have the room to fit additional storage. To that end the NA333TB3 offered plenty of flexibility as well as excellent performance potential.
The flexible and powerful Netstor NA333TB3 is ideal for organizations with demanding use cases while offering massive potential storage pool of 160GB.