The Bottom Line
Morro Data is a newcomer in the storage market pitching new ideas for storing and backing up your data. Over the last month or so I have been testing out their new platform or CacheDrive and today we share our thoughts on both the G40 and G80.
Morro Data was founded by the creator of ReadyNAS which was later acquired by Netgear. Taking a step back the team at Morro Data is looking to reinvent the NAS platform moving into the era of cloud storage. With this Morro Data has several platforms to choose from all of which ride on the CloudNAS platform.
For our review, Morro sent over both the G40 entry-level platform and tier two G80 solution for us to take for a test drive and before we go any further, the focus for me in this article is the comparison of this new Cloud Platform vs having a traditional NAS utilizing cloud features.
That said, both the G40 and G80 take advantage of the Intel NUC form factor. The G40 is a Celeron based Dual-Core with a 1TB HDD for cache and 2GB of memory while the G80 is a Core i3 platform with 4GB of memory and a 1TB m.2 SSD as cache. Both platforms run the xCache operating system utilizing the Morro Cloud subscription service and offer three-year warranties. MSRP of the Morro Data G40 comes in at $499 while the G80 lists at $899.
Packaging for each platform is the same with each model using a specific color.
The spine of each of the boxes gives a simplified specifications list at the top with needs listed below with warranty information at the bottom.
Both the G40 and G80 share the same scope of delivery so below we have just the G80 for show. With it, you get the power adapter from FSP, a quick start guide, and sticker.
The G40 is on the left and has a larger footprint and as such a larger I/O panel. Starting on the left we have power input with a combination audio/optical port next to it. This is followed by HDMI and VGA next to Gigabit Ethernet and USB 3.0. The G80 on the right houses power, HDMI, Gigabit Ethernet, USB 3.0 and miniDP.
Getting started with the CacheDrive, you must select a CloudNAS package. For consumers, we have two options unless you are deploying more than one unit. These options are CloudDrive with access to OneDrive and DropBox storage and CloudNAS Basic that upgrades your options with Backblaze and a second CacheDrive
Assuming you have purchased the CacheDrive and have set up your CloudNAS plan, we start setup by adding our device to the online management. This is done by logging in with your account details and selecting the option seen in the image above.
In the image above, we have set up both the G40 and G80 with the Basic subscription plan.
With the Basic plan, we have access to Backblaze, OneDrive and Dropbox options and to set these up we click on the + icon in the file system menu. This brings up the two options above either object or file storage.
For testing, I set up my OneDrive account. Once this is done we need to create a storage pool so the devices sync data and for that, we use the option above.
Above, I have created two storage pools and to take this further we now set up permissions for each device.
For the Morro storage pool, we simply click on the options and select the devices from the tree above. Above we have both CacheDrive selected.
Users too are something you want to set up along with groups and in my testing, I was able to create individual users and assign them to single or even multiple groups with ease. This allows you to manage teams by controlling access to data or in the case of a team manager allowing access to multiple caches of data.
Above, is the final diagram after setting both CacheDrive platforms up.
To get an idea of the performance of each CacheDrive, I ran them through a few synthetic and real-world benchmarks. The first was USB Flash benchmark which is similar to ATTO. In this test we see the G40 start at 80MB/s read and 105 MB/s write and hold solid performance through 128K.
In the file size testing, the G40 offered 61 MB/s read and 12 MB/s write at 100MB file size while 1000 MB file size brought in 90 MB/s read and 63 MB/s write.
The G80 started off at 110 MB/s read and write and held that performance through 512K.
In file size testing, the G80 started at 100 MB file size bringing in 86 MB/s read, and 9 MB/s write. We then moved through and up to 1000 MB file size with 111 MB/s read and 65 MB/s write.
I've been testing the CacheDrive platform for around a month now while at the same time running my Synology NAS on the same network. For me build quality is no issue, using the Intel NUC is a solid move from Morro Data although I would like to see all CacheDrive platforms on the Core i3/5/7 lineup of processors just for that extra bit of performance especially for any small office with multiple users.
Performance of each unit was pretty good with larger files, the G80 was obviously better with its internal SSD but we were able to get 90 MB/s read and 60 MB/s write out of the G40 while the G80 maxed out at 110 MB/s read and 65 MB/s write.
With that in the books, there is the issue of cost and between the G40 and G80 there is a $400 price difference with the G40 at $499 and G80 at $899. Even further $499 for an entry-level platform puts the G40 nearly $200 dollars over a two-bay appliance from any of the top five NAS vendors.
Of course, you will need drives for a traditional NAS so take that $200 and add two 2TB drive of your choice in WD Red or Seagate IronWolf flavor, you now have 2TB in RAID 1 and at the same time access to the same cloud platforms Morro Data is using.
On the flip side, Morro Data is intriguing because the footprint is smaller, you don't have to worry about purchasing drives or managing a failed drive or array but there is always that worry of privacy of your data.
In addition, for those that have never setup a NAS platform, Morro Data does offer a great online support section on their website complete with guides on how to get everything setup. For those that have setup a NAS or are technically savvy, these platforms are a breeze to setup with intuitive menu systems and an overall solid online management tool.
Tyler's Test System Specifications
- Motherboard: ASUS Maximus IX Hero (buy from Amazon)
- CPU: Intel Core i7 7700K (buy from Amazon) / (Read our Review)
- Memory: G.SKILL TridentZ DDR4 3200 (buy from Amazon)
- Video Card: EVGA GeForce GTX 1080 Hybrid (buy from Amazon)
- OS Storage: Intel 730 480GB SSD (buy from Amazon) / (Read our Review)
- Secondary Storage: MyDigitalSSD BP5 512GB SSD (buy from Amazon)
- Case: EVGA DG-86 (buy from Amazon)
- Power Supply: EVGA SuperNOVA 750 P2 (buy from Amazon)
- Networking: ASUS PCE-AC88 AC3100 (buy from Amazon)
- Networking: ASUS ROG 10G Express
- Networking: ASUS Thunderbolt EX3 (buy from Amazon)
- OS: Microsoft Windows 10 (buy from Amazon)
The Bottom Line: The idea behind CloudNAS is fantastic and Morro Data has brought a solid product to market with both the G40 and G80 but the pricing and additional subscription costs on top of having a top tier storage plan from OneDrive, Backblaze or Dropbox might be too much for the average consumer.
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