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Written by Bruce Normann   
Monday, 28 November 2011
Table of Contents: Page Index
IOCELL NetDISK 351UNE Network Storage Device
Closer Look: IOCELL NetDISK 351UNE
Insider Details: IOCELL NetDISK 351UNE
IOCELL NetDISK 351UNE Features
IOCELL NDAS Software Features
IOCELL NetDISK 351UNE Specifications
NAS Testing Methodology
Basic-Disk Test Results
Non-Traditional NAS Test Results
NAS Server Final Thoughts
IOCELL NetDISK 351UNE Conclusion

IOCELL NetDISK 351UNE Conclusion

The performance of the NetDISK 351UNE was very solid, and it met the specifications advertised by the manufacturer, when attached via its Ethernet connection. When tested as a local drive, with ATTO Disk Benchmark, it easily exceeded those specs, achieving Read/write performance of 66MB/s and 76MB/s respectively. In timed tests, it ran at 62MB/s in reads and 59MB/s in writes. IMHO, the performance gains claimed for the NDAS technology are real, and they come at such a low cost that it's easy to understand why IOCELL wasted no time in buying the technology from its creator Ximeta, earlier this year. My only performance disappointment is that IOCELL stuck with the USB 2.0 interface on this unit, and quite frankly, I'm left longing for more - USB 3.0 to be exact. The eSATA connection is a nice option, even though it's technically limited to SATA I speeds of 150MB/s. With the type of drive that is recommended for use by IOCELL, 5400 RPM units, that won't be a real-world limitation.

The 351UNE doesn't go for the flashy or trendy look; instead the charcoal grey exterior implies a sense of solidity. That's what you want in a network storage device, something that will be steady as a rock. The low cost of the device means that it's all plastic on the outside, but it still manages to feel substantial, once an HDD is installed.

IOCELL_Networks_NetDISK_351UNE_NDAS_solo_newfast_02.png

The construction quality of the NetDISK 351UNE is a little better than your average external storage enclosure, and not quite to the same level as some of the high-end NAS products on the market. Considering the cost, I think the build quality is very good. There's a lot of Silicon on the system board, and the proprietary stuff is always more costly. So, even though I'm not bowled over by the plastic construction, it doesn't bother me at all. Everything fit together nicely, and there were no gaps or extra flashing anywhere. The PC board was well manufactured, used quality components, and was clean to boot.

IOCELL has pulled off a triple play with the NetDISK product line. The 351UNE has the unique, low-cost, lightweight NDAS protocol that provides a quantum leap in performance at a very low price point. It also has the ability to network several NetDISK devices together in a peer-based architecture, and deliver RAID 0 or RAID 1 functionality that is more modular than the competition. Lastly, once you take it off the network, you can still attach it directly to a workstation or server via the eSATA or USB connections. That's quite helpful in system backup scenarios, which is one area where this product makes a lot of sense.

We've looked at several high-end NAS units lately, so the value proposition for the NetDISK 351UNE is not lost on us at Benchmark Reviews. $59.99 (Amazon) is a shockingly low price for any network storage device and for the cost of most competitors' diskless systems, you can get a 1TB unit from IOCELL ($124.99 at Newegg) and the 2TB model is only $179.99. Considering the current pricing on HDDs since flooding wiped out production in Thailand, the 1TB and 2TB models are an even better bargain, right now. If you need a wealth of software features and higher levels of RAID configuration (RAID 5, 6, 10...), then a full-blown NAS is in your future. They start around $150 for a diskless system, but I urge you to look closely at the features and performance of the low-end units to make sure you are really getting what you need. Without a doubt, value is one of the strongest points in favor of the IOCELL NetDISK 351UNE, based on performance per dollar spent.

Benchmark Reviews is always on the lookout for products that offer a technological advantage, especially ones that can directly benefit the user. That's why we have been at the forefront in highlighting the latest SSD technology, since the earliest days in 2008. The IOCELL NetDISK 351UNE isn't a whole new category of device, despite the NDAS naming convention. However, it is a unique twist on network attached storage, and for once we have a product that's simpler, faster and cheaper instead of slower, more complex and more expensive. Yes, CPUs keep getting faster, but in this case a faster CPU isn't better than having no CPU at all. If you've been looking at getting a NAS, but had trouble justifying the cost, I recommend taking a look at the IOCELL Networks NDAS product line.

Pros:Benchmark Reviews Golden Tachometer Award

+ 62 & 59 MB/s best read/write performance
+ Excellent product value
+ Modular RAID capability via device binding
+ LPX transfer protocol isn't hacker-bait
+ Diskless, 1TB, and 2TB units available
+ Hot-swap for RAID 1 volumes
+ Gigabit Ethernet connection
+ Low power consumption
+ eSATA port for direct storage connection
+ High quality construction

Cons:

- 7200 RPM drives not recommended (Starting current <2.5A)
- eSATA limited to SATA I speeds (150 MB/s)
- USB 2.0 is too slow

Ratings:

  • Performance: 9.25
  • Appearance: 8.50
  • Construction: 9.00
  • Functionality: 9.00
  • Value: 9.75

Final Score: 9.1 out of 10.

Excellence Achievement: Benchmark Reviews Golden Tachometer Award.

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Comments 

 
# RE: IOCELL NetDISK 351UNE Network Storage DeviceMack 2011-12-01 20:38
Pretty cool device. Its good to see some creativity out there.
Thanks for the review!
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# AgreedBruce 2011-12-02 07:33
Yeah, I was sorta caught off-guard by this product. I wasn't really expecting something this unique and this good. There's so many me-too products out there, and it can be tough to spot the stand-outs.
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# RE: IOCELL NetDISK 351UNE Network Storage DeviceAthlonite 2011-12-05 23:20
Me likes I've been looking at getting a small NAS to plonk on the GB switch but I seriously wasn't interested paying 2~300 bucks for the ability.... This product is just what the disk space shortage ordered
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# Look for the bargains.....Bruce 2011-12-07 04:59
"The models with 1TB and 2T drives preinstalled are better bargains now that the Thailand flooding has driven the price of bare HDDs up through the roof."
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# Where have you been all my life.Mergatroid 2011-12-06 17:54
Wow, I sure could have used this a few months ago. I have a NAS with a single drive, not very good but serviceable for file streaming and storage. I have a dual drive NAS in RAID 1 backing up the first NAS, and backing up my system backup drive. I didn't really need a RAID1 for backing up my NAS and system backup, but it added redundancy as you mentioned. One of these network drives (or two) would have been just what I was looking for. I hope they're still around when I need more storage. I really like the transfer rate and the universal nature of the added ports (USB and eSATA). I think this is an amazing value at the price mentioned. Nice review too. Good breakdown on what the drive does and what it doesn't do.
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# It's a great alternative...Bruce 2011-12-06 20:41
It's a great alternative to some of the other solutions out there. There's no doubt that it's the most cost-effective choice for several usage scenarios, where it performs as well as devices that are 5x the cost.
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