LaCie 5Big Network 2 Review: Large Capacity, Mediocre Performance
At a Glance
The LaCie 5Big Network 2 offers a lot of features and capacity for comparatively little cash: $900 (as of March 23, 2012) for 5TB. And despite the unit's extremely large blue status button (or maybe because of it), the 5Big Network 2 is quite a bit better looking than most NAS boxes. Regrettably, though, it delivers slow, barely consumer-grade performance.
Unlike its 2Big Network 2 cousin, the 5Big Network 2 does not attach directly to PCs, so you won't find a type B USB port. LaCie does supply a wide complement of other ports, however: two USB 2.0 ports, two ethernet ports (supporting failover and aggregation), and two eSATA ports. The five drive bays are accessible from the back via slide-out trays, which lock in place with thumb-screw mechanisms. The bays are numbered, which comes in handy when you're configuring the drive. Another amenity is the unit's fail-safe power switch, which initiates a safe shutdown, not a sudden power-off.
The 5Big Network 2 has all of the essential software features for network-attached storage: file sharing, iTunes and DLNA compliant media serving, backup, online backup, and Rsync for synchronizing the box with remote servers. The interface is nicely rendered and--with the exception of having to hit the home button to back out of sections--easy to use.
The 5Big Network 2's only real drawback is unfortunately a major one: performance. It finished dead last in three of our four tests and second-to-last in the fourth, out of 11 NAS boxes tested--among them some consumer-grade two-bay boxes such as LaCie's own 2Big Network 2. Configured in RAID 5, the 5Big Network 2 read our 10GB mix of files and folders at 34.2 megabytes per second and wrote them at 17.4 MBps. It read our single 10GB test file at a marginally respectable 57.5 MBps, but wrote it at only 28.6 MBps. With a 1.2GHz Marvell CPU and 512MB of memory on board, those numbers should have been better.
The 5Big Network 2's software features and style points would place it near the top of the multibay NAS box chart. But its performance doesn't equal that of competing models, including such low-cost alternatives as the Western Digital Sentinal DX4000 and the Netgear ReadyNAS NV+ v2.