In order to test the functionality of the Linksys by Cisco Media Hub, we placed it on our Gigabit-Ethernet network and accessed it from a variety of Windows and Mac desktops and laptops. We connected to it via both wired and wireless connections (the device was attached to a wireless router), as well as remotely over the Internet.
To test the device's performance, we conducted a number of data-transfer tests to and from the device over our network using an HP Pavilion Elite m9550f desktop (2.5GHz Intel Core 2 Quad Q9300, 8GB PC2-6400 DDR2 SDRAM, 1TB NTFS 7200RPM SATA hard drive, ATI Radeon HD 4850 512MB, Windows Vista Home Premium SP1 64-bit) via a Gigabit-Ethernet connection. We conducted large-file write and read tests where we copied a 1.7GB ISO file between the Linksys by Cisco Media Hub and the HP Pavilion Elite m9550f. We also conducted small-files write and read tests where we copied a 267MB folder made up of 70 JPGs ranging in size from 2.27MB to 4.38MB between the Linksys by Cisco Media Hub and the HP Pavilion Elite m9550f. We conducted these tests by dragging-and-dropping the folders and files in Windows. We disabled the NTI Shadow backup tool and the Linksys Media Importer, so that there wouldn't be any background data transfers occurring during testing.
For comparison, we conducted these same tests on the Maxtor Central Axis Business Edition NAS device we reviewed recently. We also repeated all of our tests on an older 500GB Maxtor Shared Storage NAS device--copying files between the Maxtor Shared Storage device and the HP Pavilion Elite m9550f. Additionally, we ran our tests on an external hard drive connected directly to a USB 2.0 port on the HP Pavilion Elite m9550f; the drive we used was a 320GB Western Digital Caviar Blue drive (7200RPM SATA-II, 16MB cache) placed into an external enclosure and formatted using the NTFS file system.
The Linksys by Cisco Media Hub took 113.2 seconds to write and 114.8 seconds to read a 1.70GB ISO file. This is nowhere near the 66.9-second write time and 12.7-second read time of the directly-connected USB hard drive, but we wouldn't expect network transfer performance to be anywhere as near as fast as a directly-connected drive. That said, Linksys by Cisco Media Hub was still the fastest of the three NAS devices we tested. The large-file transfer rates on our tests equate to about 13.1MB/Sec (109.6Mb/Sec) for writing and 15.2MB/Sec (127.2Mb/Sec) for reading.
The Linksys by Cisco Media Hub took 25.4 seconds to write and 24.8 seconds to read a 267MB folder of small files. While the Linksys by Cisco Media Hub's small-file transfer speed are a bit slower than its large file transfer rate on our tests, it still bested the performance of the other NAS devices. On our tests, the Linksys by Cisco Media Hub writes small files at about 10.5MB/Sec (88.1Mb/Sec) and reads small files at around 10.8MB/Sec (90.2Mb/Sec). The USB-connected hard drive, obviously, beat all three NAS devices. In fact, we couldn't even generate useful numbers for the USB drive's small-files read performance as Windows cached the files in memory and essentially performed instantaneous transfers whenever we repeated the file copy (all tests were run multiple times to ensure repeatability).
As to more anecdotal performance observations, we found that the Linksys by Cisco Media Hub was very quick to respond to file access in Windows, as long as the device wasn't already performing any file transfers or was scanning its contents to repopulate its media database. At those times, the device became somewhat sluggish to respond. We found that the device spent so much time scanning as new files were added that we experienced this lag frequently. Once we disabled the Linksys Media Importer on our systems, and chose to subsequently copy all media to the device manually, did the Linksys by Cisco Media Hub perform far fewer performance-impacting scans.
Using the Media Browser's File Browser to transfer files, on the other hand, was a much slower affair than using Windows. The same large-file read that took only 114.8 seconds in Windows, took a whopping 31 minutes using the File Browser interface. We had trouble trying to reproduce our other tests with the File Browser as it does not allow you to download folders, you can only download one file at a time, and the maximum file size the File Browser allows you to upload is about 1GB in size.
We also connected the Linksys by Cisco Media Hub to a power meter to get a sense of how much power it consumes. Whether the device was sitting idle or under load, it consistently sipped only about 12 to 13 watts of power.