|EonNAS 850X NAS Network Storage Server|
|Reviews - Featured Reviews: Network|
|Written by Bruce Normann|
|Thursday, 14 February 2013|
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Closer Look: EonNAS Pro 850X NAS Server
The bottom line with any high performance storage solution is that the number of drive spindles in play is often more important than almost any other factor, assuming that everything else is based on reasonably modern technology. With eight bays available, the EonNas Pro 850X is at the high end of NAS units, especially those with a tower format. When you combine the higher level of performance with the greater flexibility for online RAID capacity expansion & online RAID level migration, the additional cost of those extra drive bays always looks like a bargain instead of conspicuous consumption. This is the reason more and more people are opting for NAS systems with at least four bays, even though they may not need all that capacity now. What initially looks like overkill in a NAS system might just be the very thing that saves the day some years down the road.
We've all got data that we can't live without, the question is, how long do you want to be without it? Very few people are going to want to live without their important information for any length of time, and a RAID configuration that includes some redundancy is undoubtedly called for. With eight SATA drives installed, you have an abundance of RAID options with the 850X:
The most popular choice is usually RAID 5 because it offers the highest capacity with built-in redundancy. RAID 6 offers additional redundancy, allowing for continued operation even with two simultaneous drive failures. RAID 6 is very popular for larger NAS units and mission-critical data stores, because if one individual drive fails in a RAID 5 implementation, the array instantly starts operating as a RAID 0 configuration, which has NO redundancy. It stays in that vulnerable state until the array is rebuilt, which is a slow process that generally taxes the system and the remaining drives to the max, and can take several hours to complete. With eight bays, many users are going to opt for the higher level configurations, either for higher performance or higher fault tolerance.
The EonNAS Pro 850X is a relatively large unit, arranged in a tower format instead of a rack mount configuration. Infortrend does make similar units in both styles, so you have the option of choosing the format that works best for your space. The size and weight are significant, but no bigger or heavier than other common equipment in a data center: 310mm (H) x 175mm (W) x 380mm (D), and 8.9 kg (19.6 lb.) without drives installed. Each HDD you install will add about 1-1/2 pounds, depending on your choice of drive. Many users will be looking at 2TB and 3TB drives for a unit like this, and they're heavier than most. Infortrend estimates that a unit with HDDs installed will weigh 14.3 kg (31.6 lb.). There are no handles on the unit, which is going to make it a handful to move around, if it's necessary.
All of the front panel controls and drive bays are accessible from the front of the unit, and the access door only covers the drive bays. In a device as large as this, there's plenty of room for a display on the front, plus push buttons, indicator lights, and USB ports. The eight drive bays span almost the entire remainder of the front panel. On the right side of the front panel is the Power button. To the left of that are four status LEDS for System Status, Ethernet 1&2 links, and HDD Status. The system status LED only lights up red when there is a system failure, otherwise it's off. The Ethernet indicators glow steady green during idle conditions, and blink when data is being transmitted through the ports. The HDD status LED blinks amber when there is activity on any of the drives. The two-line LCD display is on the left side of the panel, and the two navigation buttons (Enter & Select) are right next to it. Hidden behind the panel is a System Error Buzzer, which indicates one of 15 possible conditions with long and short beeps. The far right side of the front panel has an external USB 2.0 jack located almost at the bottom edge of the unit. Although not limited to this function, it's designated as the Quick Backup USB Port. The backup operation can work either way, backing up from the USB device to the NAS, or from the NAS to the USB device. Operation of this port is configured in the system software, under the One Touch Copy menu.
The drive bays are formed from cutouts in the sheet metal chassis. There are no cross braces in the front, just a wide open rectangular hole that ends in a backplane. The drive bays are marked 1...8 on the front bezel, but the individual drive trays are not marked. The drive trays are mostly plastic, but the front surface has a metal panel that acts as an RFI shield. Each of the trays has a strip of metal fingers that make electrical contact with the tray above, so there is unbroken conductivity from the bottom of the chassis to the top. The bronze strip, seen in the image below on the bottom of the chassis opening, connects the bottom tray to the chassis and the equivalent happens at the very top. There are ventilation holes in the drive trays and along the front edge of the left-hand side panel of the EonNAS Pro 850X chassis. The cooling air enters at the front of the unit and is exhausted out the rear by two dedicated 80mm fans controlled by the NAS. There is a similar size fan integrated into the power supply, which exhausts out the back and is controlled internally by the PSU. There are no filters on any of the air intakes, presumably because the air in most data centers is cleaner than in your home. No cat hair, for one thing.....
Around the back of the EonNAS Pro 850X, you can see all of the hardwired I/O points. Starting at the top is the expansion card slot with the two additional 10GbE SFP+ ports pointed at you. Travelling down the left hand side are the three 80mm cooling fans we mentioned earlier. Between the top two fans is a hole for a Kensington lock; you don't want this piece of hardware walking away, it's probably got lots of data that you need, and a whole lot of data that you don't want other people to have. Down the right hand side are all the regular I/O connections. There are two GbE ports with RJ-45 connectors, nestled to the right are four USB 2.0 connections. Below them are a 9-pin Serial port and a HD15-pin VGA connector, both reserved for factory setup and maintenance. Next up in the trip down are an eSATA port and the Restore Default Settings button, which is recessed behind a small hole in the rear panel. Two more USB 2.0 ports are added below that, for good measure, and finally the IEC male power connector and an On/OFF switch complete the picture.
In order to keep things cool when needed and quiet the rest of the time, the fan speed is modulated. I haven't paid much attention to fan noise in most of the smaller NAS models I've reviewed, as it was never really noticeable during my daily use. Thankfully, the same was true of the EonNAS 850X, it produced less noise than I was expecting for such a big unit. Even though it's larger, and targeted at business users, the EonNAS Pro 850X has an advantage over the rack mount devices I've tested. None of them were as quiet as the NAS units intended for domestic use, because the form factor only allows very small (40mm) fans to be used. Small fans that can move a decent amount of air are always going to be noisier than a larger fan with the same CFM rating. The larger fans on the EonNAS 850X were definitely quieter than the other 8-bay NAS I tested, just because of basic physics.
Now that we've had a thorough tour of the exterior, let's do a complete tear-down and see what the insides look like. The next section covers Insider Details.