One problem we found with the N2100 that also applies to the N2050, is cooling. The appliance has a small fan at the rear but with no vents in the casing there is no way to create an air flow and without any monitoring utilities you can’t tell just how hot the drives are getting are getting. We did find with the N2100 that a pair of Maxtor DiamondMax drives were holding at around 50ºC whilst the two WD2500JS drives we also used here settled at a more comfortable 42ºC.
To test the N2050 we created a RAID-0 stripe which took the appliance a matter of minutes to create. The drive then appeared to the Windows Disk Management tool as a single 500GB drive ready for partitioning and formatting. Starting with an eSATA connection we saw the open-source Iometer utility report a modest 73MB/sec throughput. This equates to 584Mb/sec – much faster than USB 2.0 but only a fifth of the quoted top speed for eSATA. For real world results over the eSATA link we copied a 690MB video file to the appliance which took a mere ten seconds for an average write rate of 522Mb/sec. Copying the file back to the PC also only took ten seconds. With the drive connected from its USB 2 port we saw the same striped array return a much lower raw read throughput of 33MB/sec – less than half that of the eSATA port in the supplied card.
With both eSATA and USB 2.0 ports, the N2050 provides the best of both worlds for direct attached storage and although the chassis is a little flimsy offering it empty does make it more versatile. However, if you want the best performance over eSATA you will need a motherboard with an embedded 3Gb/sec port or a suitable controller card.