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Netgear ReadyNAS 104 Review - Performance, Value and Verdict Review

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Netgear ReadyNAS 104 – Performance

So with design, features and setup all casting the 104 in a favourite light, will its shared internals with the 102 drag it back down to earth? Yes and no.

The original 102 suffered significantly on both write performance and CPU-intensive batches of small file transfers, but Netgear’s greatly improved the firmware since then. The result isn’t miraculous, but it is enough to get the ReadyNAS 104 into our good books.

Transferring large files across the network achieved read and write speeds of 92.1MBps and 64.3MBps, respectively. The latter is again the range’s weak spot, but now it’s not an Achilles heel compared to most of the competition.

ReadyNAS 104 speed

Meanwhile the read speeds only fall behind the D-Link DNS-327L and Thecus N2560 which are both proportionately more expensive and lack support for expandable storage volumes. The Synology DS414j is just as refined as the 104 and offers expandable storage volumes, but gets soundly beaten.

When it came to transferring our performance-bashing 2GB folder of over 2000 small files, the 104 was also back at the races. Its read and write performance of 26.1MBps and 12.5MBps again shows all the weaknesses are on the write aspect, but it has made progress since the 102 was launched late last year.

Of course, this means the ReadyNAS 104 is far from the fastest NAS around, but feature-for-feature it’s one of the most balanced and has the edge on the similarly smooth DS414j in most tests.

ReadyNAS 104 noise

Furthermore, arguably the most exciting aspect of the 104 is the advance Netgear has made with noise reduction. The 102 sounded like a hair-dryer and was one of the noisiest NAS drives we’d tested until the WD EX4 and Thecus N2560 decided to compete for this unwanted title.

By contrast, the ReadyNAS 104 is as quiet as a mouse. Only the famously discreet Synology range is more silent, but the fact that the 104 is sub-30dB at all times means it can quite happily be situated in your living room. Note all our speed and noise tests are performed with WD Red drives, so your mileage may vary.

ReadyNAS 104 2

Should I buy the Netgear ReadyNAS 104?

If you’re in for an affordable four-bay NAS, they currently don’t come any better. The ReadyNAS 104 retails for just £149 (unpopulated), which not only undercuts the competition – particularly big rivals Western Digital and Synology – but has feature parity with the best of them.

Of course, if you spend more, you get more. The Synology DS414 and DS415Play models still rule the four-bay roost at around £375-450 unpopulated, and deliver far greater performance, but if Netgear can apply the lessons learnt with the 104 to the ReadyNAS 314’s successor, things are going to get very tasty indeed.  

Verdict

The Netgear ReadyNAS 104 is quite simply the best budget four-bay NAS currently available. Its design and build quality are a noticeable step up from rivals and it’s addressed noise and performance issues. If only Netgear had doubled the RAM it would have been nigh-on perfect, but nevertheless it comes heartily recommended.

Next, read more Peripherals Reviews

Trusted Score

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Score in detail

  • Performance 7
  • Value 10
  • Features 10
  • Build Quality 9
  • Usability 9
  • Design 9

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