Netstor NA611TB3 Thunderbolt™ 3 NVMe SSD Storage Review! Storage not eGPU relate...
 
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Netstor NA611TB3 Thunderbolt™ 3 NVMe SSD Storage Review! Storage not eGPU related.  

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sprober
(@sprober)
Eminent Member
Joined: 3 years ago
 

Since my Mantiz eGPU is working perfectly I decided to look at a little fast external storage. At first I considered using an external PCIe box with one of the following Amfeltec cards:

Amfeltec SQUID cards

After I saw the price on these cards I decided to look around at other options and found a Netstor NA611TB3 for a much more reasonable price and decided to try it out with two 1TB Samsung 960 PRO NVMe SSD's in a RAID 0 configuration. It seems like a pretty well built device so I decided to put up a short review here.

The Netstor NA611TB3 comes nicely packaged in a sealed white box with a picture of the device on top and specs on the back. Packaging is reminiscent of Apple once opened with a cutout for the device itself on top and the power brick and cord in a compartment below. I would say the device itself is somewhat portable being a little larger than my hand as seen in the following picture:

ugeKcyMbRauBLF9I3m1ukA thumb 1050

The device itself is made out of aluminum with a rubber sleeve and looks to be well made. The enclosure accepts two NVMe M.2 SSD's of any length, has dual Thunderbolt 3 ports for daisy chaining, a small fan and a switch to turn off the fan if unneeded on the rear plate. Here is a picture of the rear of the device:

UNADJUSTEDNONRAW thumb 1054

The device comes without SSD's but installation is a fairly simple process. Removing the two screws on the back plate allows an aluminum shelf to slide out that all internal components are attached to. Here are the guts after sliding out:

UNADJUSTEDNONRAW thumb 1052

 

The SSD's need to be installed on the underside of the two sandwiched boards. Simply removing the four screws that retain the board and detaching the fan allows you to access the underside and insert the SSD's, there is a thermal blanket on the aluminum shelf that aids in cooling:

HBiC%OKgQU6dZDThD6N1SQ thumb 1053

After SSD installation the device is truly plug and play with my 15" MacBook Pro running High Sierra 10.13.4. Once plugged into a Thunderbolt port the device shows up immediately in system report:

Screen Shot 2018 02 05 at 4.59.06 PM

Opening Disk Manager the two SSD's show up as immediately available:

Screen Shot 2018 02 05 at 5.00.40 PM

I then used the Mac RAID assistant to create a 2TB RAID 0 disk, very simple proccess:

Screen Shot 2018 02 05 at 5.01.44 PM

Screen Shot 2018 02 05 at 5.03.54 PM

Once attached the front panel has one power light that is orange when in standby and blue when attached and active. It also has independent lights for each SSD that flash white on activity:

UNADJUSTEDNONRAW thumb 1056

Running a quick Black Magic Disk Benchmark made me realize it was going to be pretty tough to match the performance of my internal SSD. Here are the internal results:

DiskSpeedTestInternal

After running the benchmark on the external Netstor device I was somewhat surprised. It is pretty darn close on read speed but slightly off on write speed. I'm assuming the write performance is affected by the software raid and this is just an initial benchmark, I have not tried any optimizations. Here are the Netstor results:

DiskSpeedNetstor

Conclusion. The Netstor seems like a very well built device and I now have 2TB of hot plug external storage that is fast enough to do direct audio recording and processing as well as 4k video editing. I'm sure performance can be improved a bit with some optimization but it is still pretty fast. I would still be interested in trying the quad Amfeltec board but will wait for NAND flash prices to come down a bit.

To do: Create my signature with system and expected eGPU configuration information to give context to my posts. I have no builds.

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nando4
(@nando4)
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Joined: 4 years ago
 

@sprober ,  thank you for your review. I noticed the Black Magic write speed is half of the maximum of Thunderbolt 3's 22Gbps (2750MB/s), but your reads are OK.

This is a PCIe enclosure running PCIe firmware. We noticed another PCIe enclosure being used for GPUs is also giving this half-write performance (1386.15MiB/s writes, 2664.85MiB/s reads):

https://egpu.io/forums/builds/late-2016-15-mbp-tb-rp460-node-pro-gtx-1080-ti-fe-win-10-pro/

Consider these steps to try to improve performance:

1. trying to hotplug the enclosure after Apple firmware has booted to circumvent any link adjustments it may be doing.

2. asking netstor to provide a new firmware to enable full speed writes.  Just last year this was required for some eGFX enclosures:

https://egpu.io/forums/thunderbolt-enclosures/alert-akitio-node-half-h2d-bandwidth-issue/

eGPU Setup 1.35    •    eGPU Port Bandwidth Reference Table

 
2015 15" Dell Precision 7510 (Q M1000M) [6th,4C,H] + GTX 1080 Ti @32Gbps-M2 (ADT-Link R43SG) + Win10 1803 // compares M.2 vs TB3 performance inc unoptimized H-CPU BIOS [build link]  


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sprober
(@sprober)
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Joined: 3 years ago
 

@nando4, thanks for the suggestions. I will definitely be working on optimizing the write performance.

To do: Create my signature with system and expected eGPU configuration information to give context to my posts. I have no builds.

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itsage
(@itsage)
Illustrious Member Admin
Joined: 4 years ago
 

@sprober Thank you for the detailed review of this TB3 NVMe enclosure. You can try AJA System Test to see if it makes a difference with Write speed. If that shows the same, maybe try one drive at a time. 

external graphics card builds
best laptops for external GPU
eGPU enclosure buyer's guide

 
2021 15" ASUS TUF Dash F15 [11th,4C,H] + RTX 3080 @ 32Gbps-TB4 (AORUS Gaming Box) + Win10 2004 // my 3rd RTX 3080 build [build link]  


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sprober
(@sprober)
Eminent Member
Joined: 3 years ago
 

@itsage Thanks for the suggestion. I will definitely be testing the SSD's independently. I think the software RAID is part of the problem as it still only allows the HPFS format where APFS is allowed on individual drives and is designed specifically for SSD's. I will post those results when I have a chance.

To do: Create my signature with system and expected eGPU configuration information to give context to my posts. I have no builds.

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itsage
(@itsage)
Illustrious Member Admin
Joined: 4 years ago
 

The software RAID feature in macOS is definitely not there yet. If you have Boot Camp to run Windows, that's a quick way to determine the max bandwidth on this NVMe enclosure.

external graphics card builds
best laptops for external GPU
eGPU enclosure buyer's guide

 
2021 15" ASUS TUF Dash F15 [11th,4C,H] + RTX 3080 @ 32Gbps-TB4 (AORUS Gaming Box) + Win10 2004 // my 3rd RTX 3080 build [build link]  


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goalque
(@goalque)
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Joined: 4 years ago
 

For a comparison, a couple of CrystalDiskMark tests with a single 512GB 960 PRO & NP631N & HL23T on Windows 10:

Barefeats shows that NA611TB3 can reach 1938 MB/s 16GB sequential write speed:
http://barefeats.com/hard226.html

automate-eGPU EFIapple_set_os.efi

Mid 2015 15-inch MacBook Pro eGPU Master Thread

 
2018 13" MacBook Pro [8th,4C,U] + Radeon VII @ 32Gbps-TB3 (ASUS XG Station Pro) + Win10 1809 [build link]  


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sprober
(@sprober)
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Here are the results from AJA as suggested by itsage using 4k RED HD, 16 MB file size. I  ran the test on the macbook internal SSD, the two 1 TB Samsung Pro 960 in the Netstor RAID 0 formatted HPFS, the 960 Pro's individually formatted APFS and just to check it out the two SSD's RAID 1 formatted HPFS. The RAID 0 does show by far the fastest numbers for the external SSD's especially for write and as you would expect RAID 1 has the read speed of RAID 0 but the write speed of the individuls.

Internal SSD:

LocalSSD

Netstor RAID 0:

NetStor1 RAID0

Netstor individual SSD formatted APFS:

Netstor1 1
Netstor1 2

And RAID 1 HPFS:

Netstor1 RAID1

I'm going to have to look into how barefeats got that write speed as mine is a few hundred below that. I've contacted Netstor to see if there is a firmware update but haven't heard back from them yet.

To do: Create my signature with system and expected eGPU configuration information to give context to my posts. I have no builds.

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goalque
(@goalque)
Noble Member Admin
Joined: 4 years ago
 

My mistake. 1938MB/s bar in the Barefeat's graph was "Netstor TB3 AHCI" - the NVMe result is below.

automate-eGPU EFIapple_set_os.efi

Mid 2015 15-inch MacBook Pro eGPU Master Thread

 
2018 13" MacBook Pro [8th,4C,U] + Radeon VII @ 32Gbps-TB3 (ASUS XG Station Pro) + Win10 1809 [build link]  


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sprober
(@sprober)
Eminent Member
Joined: 3 years ago
 

@goalque I did find the response from Netstor in my spam folder thanks to your heads up. they explain the firmware update above applies to PCIe for GPU only and NVMe as we know it has no special firmware. The performance hit is due to Thunderbolt bottleneck and effects both read and write by the same percentage (Samsung specs for the 1TB 960 Pro are read speeds up to 3500MBs and sequential writes up to 2100MBs). They also provided their own test results below and as you can see my 960 Pro are beating their 960 Evo but they had the best results with the OCZ 400D so I may try a couple of Toshiba XG5 as I believe the OCZ used XG3's but Toshiba is now up to XG5.

 

Samsung 960 EVO 1TB

OCZ RD400 1TB

Installed on PC

R: 3200 MB/s
W: 1900 MB/s

R: 2600 MB/s
W: 1550 MB/s

Single NVME through TB3

R: 2300 MB/s
W: 650 MB/s

R: 2400 MB/s
W: 1400 MB/s

NA611TB with two NVMe RAID 0

R: 2400 MB/s
W: 1250 MB/s

R: 2400 MB/s
W: 2000 MB/s

As I said in my original conclusion the Netstor NA611TB is a well built device and I'm quite happy to have 2TB of fast hot plug storage that is certainly fast enough for my direct audio and video editing needs. I can add to that now that their support seems to be responsive and doing their best to satisfy your needs.

To do: Create my signature with system and expected eGPU configuration information to give context to my posts. I have no builds.

.

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