Download Asustor DRIVESTOR 2 (AS1102T) review for free
For far too many years, Synology has dominated the small NAS space for both small businesses and home users. Although their products are well defined and expertly, they are not particularly good value for money and the pace of technological development for their products has been icy.
To bring more affordable and innovative solutions to users, Synology needs a credible opposition, not just the token NAS devices from drive manufacturers.
Asus, or more precisely the Asustor sub-brand, is one of the companies Synology has been confronted with on a regular basis, and today we’re going to talk about one of its latest NAS solution.
In terms of price, the AS1102T seems like a very desirable option, but the devil is in the details of this devi
Prices and availability
In the UK, a typical price for the AS1102T is between £ 149 and £ 161 for a unit with no drives preinstalled. The asking price on Amazon.com is $ 179.99 and it is a similar price on Newegg.com.
These units are now being picked up quickly, so stocks may be limited in some regions.
Design and functions
There are several approaches NAS box manufacturers use when building a NAS, and Asustor uses a similar approach to Synology, a steel frame made from lightweight plastic.
Because this design has open pockets or drawers, it makes for a remarkably similar structure that can be accessed from the inside by removing two thumbscrews from the back of the device.
When these are removed, a large part of the housing loosens and reveals the internal cage, the board, an expansion card with two SATA drive connectors.
There is room for two 3.5 hard drives and screws are included to secure it to the frame.
Although this is not explicitly stated in the documentation, 2.5-inch machine heads can be built in, although there are no screws in the box to mount them.
The 1 GB DDR4 memory is built into the mainboard, which unfortunately rules out further expansion.
Here is the configuration of the Asustor DRIVESTOR 2 (AS1102T) tested by TechRadar:
CENTRAL PROCESSOR: Realtek RTD1296 quad-core 1.4 GHz CPU
R.A.M: 1 GB DDR4 without ECC (not updated), 8 GB eMMC
Warehouse: 2 x 3.5 ″ SATA HDD (hard disks not included)
LAN ports: 1 x 2.5 GbE (RJ-45)
External ports: 2 x USB 3.2 Gen 1
Extension: Only via USB
Weight: 1.14 kg without drives
Measure: 102 x 218 x 165 mm (W x D x H)
Power consumption: 11.6 W (operation) 5.97 W (hard drive sleep)
Guarantee: 3 years
With the largest SATA drives currently available, this NAS could hold 36 TB (2x 18 TB), and even larger overall capacities can be achieved by connecting external expansions via the USB ports.
As soon as the drives have been mounted and the housing has been reassembled, the supplied laptop-style power supply unit is connected to the rear using a LAN cable and the AS1102T is ready for use.
There’s a USB 3.0 port on the front and another on the back, and these can be used for shareable USB peripherals like printers or, as mentioned, external storage.
The dashboard also houses a small collection of indicator LEDs and what looks like a sensor like those used on infrared remote controls.
Asustor makes one as an accessory for other NAS boxes, but oddly enough, it’s not mentioned in the documentation or as compatible with this device.
The Asustor AS1102T is delivered ‘barebones’ because no drives are built in. You will need these next to the device, and if you are planning on installing two drives, two of the type and brand is a good idea.
One problem we noticed during installation was the lack of rubber grommets or other damping between the physical drives and the metal frame. As a result, the frame transmits the vibrations from the drive actuators to the housing, so that this unit is only the noisy side. Surely someone in the development process noticed how every chunk of the slices was upgraded by the lack of a few little things that cost a fraction of a cent?
The repetitive sound of this device would annoy most people if, for example, it was placed on or under the desk or next to the television.
This flaw is a little surprising given the detail that is present in other aspects of this design.
The decision to use 8 GB eMMC flash memory enables the device to provide a basic interface even before the drives are booted. A number of professional grade applications have also been developed for PC and Apple Mac to get the most out of NAS hardware and to assist network users.
It is possible to find the network IP in other ways, but Asustor has developed a monitoring application to find every Asustor NAS on the network and start installing the operating system. This method is common with many brands of NAS, and the Asustor tool has some additional features that make it convenient to stay on the computer after the NAS has been used.
By default, it makes assumptions about the disk configuration that may need to be corrected later, but the installation wizard tries to help the user make the right decisions.
The installation of two drives requires a RAID 1 mirror configuration, which you can, however, change to JBOD or RAID 0 via the web interface as soon as the system is up and running.
By default, no applications are installed, so applications that are not suitable for their intended purpose do not need to be uninstalled.
Where Synology was once the undisputed king of applications, the Asustor selection is easily the same or even better in some respects. With 1GB of RAM, there is plenty of workspace to load lots of tools without sacrificing performance. This is a device suitable for software developers working in Drupal, Docker, PHP or Python.
But it’s a true Swiss Army Knife of NAS with currently 618 installable tools and applications available for use on Asustor NAS devices, and 189 of them can run on this hardware.
For those curious about what tools to use, the Asustor website provides an overview of the installable applications for all of your NAS hardware.