Before the review started I was excited to be taking a look at a NAS server from Western Digital - and then I started to read up on what was actually going to be coming my way. While it may look like many of the NAS servers we have checked out over the years, once you get past the physical exterior it is clear that this is far more. Everything about the hardware used in the DX4200 makes it clear that this is a tool to be deployed in a corporate setting. The dual core processor, 4GB ECC system memory (expandable to 16GB), stand alone hard drive for the OS (with the option for a second one), redundant network adapters, redundant power supplies, four USB 3.0 ports, and of course the 4 drive array of 4TB datacenter class hard drives all make it clear that this thing is ready to do some serious work. The WD Sentinel DX4200 doesn't cut any corners, and is well built to offer a reliable storage solution for numerous users (up to 50 per WD).
While many NAS devices have some sort of proprietary firmware loaded on to a flash memory module, the DX4200 uses one or two hard drives that are independent from the storage pool to run Windows Server 2012 R2. This not only increases reliability and performance, but it also increases the ease with which this can be integrated in to an established active directory or other Windows based corporate environment. The Windows license clearly adds to the cost of the device, but in the long run it may be more cost effective to have it in place since you know what is available and what kind of suport will be available now and down the road.
Overall, the performance of the WD Sentinel DX4200 was very solid. It was able to outpace all the traditional NAS devices on hand, as well as a server built on Windows 7. Read and write speeds approaching 120MB/s were possible - which is definitely impressive. Unfortunately, this type of performance was not available with all storage layouts tested. When configured as a simple or mirror layout, the DX4200 put up excellent read and write speeds during just about every test. With the device setup with a parity layout, write speeds took a hit, and were at times close to 50% slower than the other configurations. The maximum write speed encountered with a parity layout was just over 70MB/s, which is decent, but other times we would see results in the 40-50MB/s range, while the other layouts were still putting up results over 100MB/s.
The parity layout is most like what people would know as RAID 5, and is my preferred configuration for a balance of disk space (@10.7TB in our case), redundancy, and performance. But the hit on write speeds seems excessive and would make me consider the other layouts if the usage of this device was write intensive. For information - simple would be most like RAID 0, where the failure of one drive would result in data loss, but it does allow for the most storage space (@14.6TB in our case). Mirror would be most like RAID 1 which provides redundancy but gives you storage space equal to half the total available space (@7.3TB in our case).
Shopping around for the WD Sentinel DX4200 16TB unit shows you won't find prices much lower than the MSRP of $2,199 disclosed on the first page. At Amazon.com the 16TB unit presently sells for just over $2000
, while the 8TB unit is about $1565. Considering that you might have around $900 in hard drives in here, and perhaps another couple hundred in the Windows license, the cost of the base hardware might seem more in line with some of the premium driveless NAS servers available.
The 8TB model
The Sentinel DX4200 16TB Windows Storage Server is definitely an impressive piece of hardware. It is well built and backed by Western Digital
, a name you can surely trust for your storage needs. In the end it earns the Bigbruin.com "Recommended" award.
» Capable of impressive read and write speeds in excess of 110MB/s
» Well built and well provisioned for serious, 24/7 access
» Windows Storage Server 2012 R2 allows it to integrate well into an active directory and existing Windows environments
» Capable enough to serve up to 50 users
» WD StorCentral makes for an easy way to configure and manage your storage array
» Parity mode would be my preferred configuration, except for the weaker write speeds
» Would prefer traditional RAID arrays versus Windows Storage Spaces pooling
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