Netstor NA611TB3 Review

Natstor NA611TB3 Review
Review

Price when reviewed

£275

$275
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Our Verdict

Need working storage that will keep up with your 4 and 8K video editing demands? Then look no further than the Netstor NA611TB3. This small enclosure is designed to take two ultrafast NVMe M.2 drives which can be configured as RAID 0 or 1 to give you maximum performance or security. The performance difference between this and a conventional drive is unbelievable, and its use can even breathe new life into ageing machines.

For

  • Ultra-fast
  • Thunderbolt 3
  • Choice of security of performance

Against

  • Not the greatest aesthetics
  • Requires external power
What is the Netstor NA611TB3?

4K video and 40+MP resolution cameras make huge demands on storage capacity. That’s a given, but did you realise the speed of that storage is just as important when it comes to editing.

Sitting at your machine editing 4K S-Log video, you’ll probably be alerted to a dropped frame or general slowing of the computer after the first pass.

You may put it down to the age of your machine but more than likely it’s just down to the amount and speed of your storage.

When editing you should use external drives or at least a drive that’s separate from your operating system.

There are plenty of options out there, but few are as fast as the lastest internal harddrive, especially those in the latest MacBook and Mac Pros.

These drives are known as NVMe and offer ultra-fast transfer speeds; the issue is that the capacity is usually not that large.

The use of NVMe drives as external storage is relatively new, the reason for this is that until recently, these drives were costly, but now that cost has started to fall.

You can get external NVMe drives, but these are mainly aimed at gamers, and the storage capacities are still relatively small.

This is where the Natstor NA611TB3 comes in. It’s an external RAID NVMe drive enclosure with the lastest Thunderbolt 3 ports for connection. This means that with the right drives installed and connected through Thunderbolt 3, you could get transfer speeds of up to 40Gbps.

For more information, visit www.netstor.com.tw

Specification

  • Product type: Hard drive enclosure
  • Read Speeds of up to : 40GB/s
  • Connectivity: Thunderbolt 3 / USB Type-C
  • Enclosure type: NVMe M.2
Features

The Netstor NA611TB3 is essentially an enclosure with space for two NVMe M.2 drives. Once the drives are in place, you can use your computer’s software to configure the drives into a software RAID: either RAID 0 or 1 depending on what you want. 

Because of the nature of these drives, not all NVMe M.2 drives on sale are fully compatible, but Netstor has created a full list of those that are, and that list is rapidly extending. You can find a complete list of Netstor compatible drives on Netstor’s website then click the Compatibility tab.

Natstor NA611TB3 Review

Basic compatibility is one or two NVMe M.2 x4 M Key (Two PCIe 3.0 x2 electrical) and of type 2242 / 2260 / 2280 / 22110 PCIe SSD.

The drive has four different options for drive configuration: just one drive, two installed as separate volumes, two drives but configured in RAID 0 for double capacity and performance and two drives in RAID 1 as a single volume for greater security.

The Netstor NA611TB3 is a desktop external enclosure rather than portable and as such does require an external power source.

Despite the need for power, the enclosure is small, measuring 125x150x35mm and weighing in at 0.6kg.

Compatibility is for both Mac and PC systems, and the connection is made through Thunderbolt 3.0, and Netstor offers read speeds of 2369MB/sec and write of 1940MB/sec.

Build Quality

The Netstor is reminiscent of a network router, something you used to see on the cable rack under the desk. It’s more functional than it is a design icon, but still, it’s designed to do a job.

The exterior design is simple, with one button on the front to power up and switch off the drive and a row of three LEDs that indicate the power and which drive is being accessed.

On the back are two fan options, if the drives starting to get overly hot then the internal fan can be boosted, then there’s a power connector and two Thunderbolt 3 ports, you can also plugin USB Type-C connectors if you wish.

Covering the sides and top is a thin rubber sleeve which is minty green in colour. Again it’s functional and stops the enclosure from moving anywhere.

Installing the drives

Before you get started you need to install the NVMe drives. In this test I used WD Black SN750 250GB which were purchased separately to the enclosure.

Installation takes around five minutes and is a simple case of undoing a few screws, slotting the drives in place and reassembling.

Once done, plug in, power on and the two drives are ready for formatting in whatever configuration you wish.

I opted for RAID 0 to give maximum performance and a capacity of 500GB. This was set up using macOS Disk Utility and takes a couple of minutes to select the drives, format and create the RAID.

From installing the drives to formatting and creating the RAID, the entire process is quick and smooth. Easy enough for even the least tech-savvy video editor or photographer to do without issue.

Performance

I’ve been using NVMe drives for a few years and have seen the dramatic difference that the speed can have on your workflow.

The cost of the drives is still far greater than standard SSD’s but as the results from this test show that added cost does give you a massive boost in performance.

Testing on a MacBook Pro 2018 i9 with 32GB of RAM and having the Netstor equipped with two WD Black NVMe M.2 250GB drives and the results were as follows:

2198MB/sec write 2342MB/sec read when checked with the Blackmagic Disk Speed Tool, and 2224MB/sec write and 2255MB/sec with the AJA System Test.

Natstor NA611TB3 Review

It’s not often you get test results greater than those stated on the manufacturer’s website. Still, honestly over two weeks and using the drive as the main working storage for several video editing projects, the results were roughly the same.

As a working drive, the Netstor performed well beyond the abilities of any other drive I own, and a pretty much on a par with the internal drive of the MacBook Pro.

What I did notice was that when editing larger files or complex projects, there was generally no slow down of the machine. I’ll point out that I also use a Blackmagic EGPU and it seems by moving both graphics and storage externally the internal temperature of the machine was kept down, ensuring the smooth running and an avoidance of the usual heat-related slowdowns.

Netstor NA611TB3 Verdict

In the same way that the Blackmagic eGPU stopped my MacBook Pro from imploding when editing 4K video, the Netstor seems to be the next piece in the puzzle.

The read and write speeds, with compatible NVME drives, are incredible, and now I’ve tested the drive in several small video projects I feel comfortable that the Netstor is a viable video editing solution.

Next step is to save up for two 2TB NVMe drives; it’s just unfortunate that they’ll set me back around £800. However, two 250GB WD Black drives will set you back around £90, and that’s not at all bad for such a performance boost.

Natstor NA611TB3 Review

Still, there’s no doubt that the Netstor has proven that it’s an essential and the boost that it has given to all my machines is incredible.

Even going to my trusty Mac Pro late 2013 and using Thunderbolt 2.0 I’m still getting read-write speeds of around 1500mb/s. That again is as fast as the internal NVMe drive.

If you’re video editing and finding your machine lagging, then the Netstor NA6111TB3 is well worth a look.

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