Patriot Gauntlet Node Wi-Fi Storage Enclosure Review

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Battery Life & Performance

A Note on Battery Life:

The Gauntlet Node is rated for up to 5.5 hours of continuous streaming on its Lithium-ion battery power, and we put that number to the test.

After streaming HD video for 2 hours and 23 minutes, the Node conked out; that’s less than half of what the Gauntlet can purportedly manage. We fully recharged the battery and ran it back down again using an audio stream, which is a little less demanding than video. This time, the battery hung on for 3 hours and 38 minutes. Of course, battery life will vary depending on usage; you can expect much better battery performance if you're not constantly streaming and perhaps get closer to that 5.5-hour mark.


Overall, the streaming performance is solid. Images and audio files pop right up and play quickly, respectively, and the quality is on par with what you’d expect from locally stored and played files. Some lower-quality videos played back smoothly--in fact, we had as many as three devices streaming SD video at one time with zippy performance and no noticeable reduction in quality.  However, most HD video content was unwatchable due to constant lag and frame rate issues.

It’s also worth noting that once everything is set up and configured, the Node responds fairly quickly to navigational commands and the like, although it’s slow enough that you won’t forget that you’re working over a WiFi connection. However, we sometimes experienced annoying wait times while trying to connect devices to the Gauntlet Node server, and navigating to and updating the firmware from Gauntlet Connect was such a laggy experience that we weren’t sure anything was happening at all for long stretches of time.

That said, configuring or changing important settings such as security encryption and passwords is very easy to do from the Gauntlet Connect interface, and you shouldn't have to do it very ofter, so that’s a plus.

ATTO Disk Benchmark
More Information Here: http://bit.ly/btuV6w
 
Although disk performance isn't as crucial with the Gauntlet Node as it is with most hard drive enclosures--mostly, you're going to be concerned about streaming performance over WiFi (with a max speed of 150Mbps) as opposed to the speed of the HDD or SSD inside--we wanted to give you an idea of how the Gauntlet Node impacts a drive's performance.

We ran a pair of drives through a couple of benchmarks while connected directly to a PC, while inside the Gauntlet Node and connected to a PC via USB, and then inside the Node while connected via WiFi. One is an SSD (128GB OCZ Vertex 4), and one is a typical 5400 RPM drive (320GB WD Scorpio). ATTO is a "quick and dirty" type of disk benchmark that measures transfer speeds across a specific volume length. It measures transfer rates for both reads and writes and graphs them out in an easily interpreted chart. We chose .5kb through 8192kb transfer sizes and a queue depth of 6 over a total max volume length of 256MB. ATTO's workloads are sequential in nature and measure bandwidth, rather than I/O response time, access latency, etc.

    
WD Scorpio HDD running inside the Gauntlet Node (left) and connected directly to a PC (right)

    
OCZ Vertex 4 SSD running inside the Gauntlet Node (left) and connected directly to a PC (right)

As you can see, the Gauntlet Node has little impact on the WD Scorpio drive either way. However, the device appears to substantially hamper the performance of the OCZ Vertex 4, particularly as it pertains to write speeds at least.  Regardless, with an SSD under the hood of the Node, you could realize sizable performance gains versus an HDD.

    
WD Scorpio HDD connected via WiFi (left) and OCZ Vertex 4 SSD connected via WiFi (right)

When we ran ATTO with the Node connected via WiFi, we found some strange scores; the WD Scorpio hard drive actually posted much better scores than the OCZ Vertex 4 SSD, which doesn't make much sense. We of course retested multiple times, and sure enough, we got essentially identical scores. We don't have a clear explanation for the abnormal scores, but in any case, you can see how being connected via WiFi versus USB significantly impacts both drives.

CrystalDiskMark Benchmarks
Synthetic File Transfer Tests

CrystalDiskMark is a synthetic benchmark that tests both sequential and random small and mid-sized file transfers using incompressible data. It provides a quick look at best and worst case scenarios with regard to performance, best case being larger sequential transfers and worse case being small, random transfers.

    
WD Scorpio HDD running inside the Gauntlet Node (left) and connected directly to a PC (right)

    
OCZ Vertex 4 SSD running inside the Gauntlet Node (left) and connected directly to a PC (right)

The numbers in CrystalDiskMark bear out the same story as with ATTO; the WD drive isn't impacted much at all by the Node, while the OCZ SSD sees a significant performance limitation, though the total solution offers much better performance when configured with an SSD.

    
WD Scorpio HDD connected via WiFi (left) and OCZ Vertex 4 SSD connected via WiFi (right)

Just as with our ATTO test, CrystalDiskMark shows for some reason that the HDD outperforms the SSD when connected via WiFi. Again, in both cases, the thing to focus on is that performance is much slower than when connected via USB.
 

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