Performance Summary & Conclusion
Performance Summary: All three of the NAS boxes we tested proved adept at whisking files to and from our testbed with haste, though QNAP's TS-569 Pro stood as a model of consistency from start to finish. It was sometimes the fastest, such as when reading and writing large and small files, and sometimes not, but always in the thick of things. So was the N4800 from Thecus, which isn't surprising considering both it and the QNAP box share similar internal hardware. Netgear, meanwhile, was a bit more erratic. Writing files generally took longer, but read performance was fast --sometimes blazing fast -- and the company's X-RAID2 technology wins bonus points for taking some of the guess work and risk out of managing a RAID array.
As with any roundup with a bunch of quality name manufacturers at play, picking a winner takes considerable thought and analysis; even then it could up for debate, depending on your usage model. We're not looking for sympathy here, just pointing that in this instance, all three NAS boxes have merit, which we'll summarize individually in a moment. That said, our Editor's Choice pick goes to QNAP's TS-569 Pro.
QNAP's box is the only one to feature five drive bays, though that's not why we're crowning it the victor, if you will, here. We're far more impressed with its rock solid performance no matter what you're doing, whether it's moving batches of files to and fro, or streaming video. It never hiccuped in our tests, nor did it ever feel slow. We also like that it has HDMI and VGA outputs, and its menu system feels the most fleshed out and is super easy to navigate. It's the total package.
We also like menu system on the Thecus N4800, which is similar to QNAP's and just as easy to jump around in. Also working in the N4800's favor is that it streets for around $630, nearly $300 less than QNAP's five-bay box and close to a grand less expensive than Netgear's device, yet it's the only one to include a built-in UPS backup. Less impressive are the On-Screen Display (OSD) controls, which aren't exactly intuitive. Unless you read and memorize the manual, you're not going to know that the down button brings up the USB copy command. It's not a huge deal, we just wish things were labeled a bit better. We have no qualms, however, about performance.
Finally, Netgear's ReadyNAS Pro 5, in our experience, was a bit bitter-sweet. We love the company's proprietary X-RAID2 technology, which makes it super easy to wield RAID like a pro regardless of your skill level, but we're not crazy about its write performance (PC to NAS), at least compared to the other two boxes in this roundup. It's not particularly slow in its own right, thought definitely trails the competition by several megabytes per second. Getting back to the sweet side of things, Netgear's appliance trumps the other two in size with a smaller footprint, but it doesn't have USB 3.0 ports (just 2.0) or HDMI connectivity. Still, Netgear's X-RAID2 technology was very impressive, and without hard drives, it costs about the same as the N4800 (around $640 street).
QNAP TS-569 Pro
Netgear ReadyNAS Pro 4