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Iomega StorCenter ix2-200 Review

The world's perfect NAS for home and small business use with the StorCenter ix2-200 - NotebookReview.com 11/23/09

The Iomega StorCenter ix2 series is an extremely popular network storage solution designed for consumers and small businesses who need a stand-alone storage drive that can be shared by multiple computers over an internet or network connection. The latest version of the StorCenter, the ix2-200, is compact file sharing solution available in 1TB, 2TB, and 4TB capacities. The new ix2-200 allows friends, family, and coworkers to access the same files even if they work on different computers located on opposite sides of the room ... or opposite sides of the globe. Let's take a closer look.

Iomega StorCenter ix2-200 Specifications:

  • CPU at 1GHz with 256MB RAM
  • 2 x 3.5" Easy-Swap Seagate SATA-II Hard Disk Drives
  • 1 x RJ45 10/100/1000Mbps (GbE) Ethrenet port. LAN standards: IEEE 802.3, IEEE 802.3u
  • 3 x USB 2.0 ports (to connect external HDD, printers, Bluetooth)
  • RAID level: JBOD, RAID 1 (mirroring)
  • Client computers for file system access—Windows PC, Mac OS, LinuxAC Voltage 100-240 VAC
  • Power consuption - 5 Watts (min) - 19 Watts (max)
  • Acoustic noise - <27 dB
  • MSRP: $369.99 for 2TB capacity
Build and Design
The Iomega StorCenter ix2-200 is marginally larger than the original StorCenter ix2, but this network attached storage (NAS) enclosure packs quit a few additional features in addition to its two 3.5" desktop hard drives. For starters, the ix2-200 uses an all new Marvel 6281 processor that runs at 1.0GHz and has 256MB of system RAM. That might not sound like a lot of power compared to a home server, but this is significantly more horsepower than what Iomega squeezed into the original ix2. The faster processor and RAM mean that the ix2-200 has the muscle needed to push your network connection to the limit. We'll have more details on that in the performance section of the review.

The new enclosure is all black and has a very simple design with the Iomega logo on both sides. This design isn't overwhelmingly attractive, but this NAS is better looking than the original ix2. Besides, we're talking about a NAS here. Most people don't care about how it looks ... they just want it to perform. The top, bottom and sides of the ix2-200 are made of solid metal while the front of the dual hard drive enclosure has vents to keep the drives from overheating and a single USB port and quick copy button for device-to-device replication. The rear of the ix2-200 features the most welcome change compared to last year's ix2: a pair of "easy-swap" hard drive bays. Now if one of the dual hard drives fails you can easily remove either drive by removing a pair of retention screws on the bottom and then pulling the drives out the back. Sure, we would have found the "easy swap" bays to be much easier to use if Iomega didn't have the retention screws in the bottom, but at least this prevents employees or children from accidentally removing a drive.

The back of the enclosure also has dual USB ports, DC plug and a LAN plug along with the cooling fan vent.  There is also a security lock slot on the enclosure to deter theft. Bottom line, the construction of the Iomega StorCenter ix2-200 is a nice step up from last year's model, but it still isn't as easy as we'd like to access the drives inside the enclosure ... making it less than ideal for do-it-yourself repairs.

Features
One of the main features of the Iomega StorCenter ix2-200 is that it's remarkably simple to setup and use. We praised the original ix2 for being extremely easy to setup, but the new ix2-200 is even easier. Simply insert the included software CD, type your desired user name and security password, click a couple of on-screen buttons to confirm the installation and you're ready to start using your new StorCenter! Network attached storage doesn't get any easier than this.

The main configuration options for the StorCenter ix2-200 are all accessed through the supplied software or via a web browser by simply typing in the IP address. Through web access, users can view all the shared content, add users/groups, and manage RAID settings, network settings, disk backup, etc. from anywhere on either a Mac or PC. Speaking of which, the ix2-200 also functions seamlessly as a media server and is UPnP/DLNA compliant and functions as an iTunes server. The ix2-200 also supports Apple's Time Machine and the StorCenter will automatically appear as a Time Machine target.

For those who might be concerned about security, the included encryption from RSA helps secure your data inside the StorCenter ix2 and protect the NAS from malicious attacks during installs and product updates.

Another feature worth mentioning is the low power consumption on the Iomega StorCenter ix2 for users who want access 24/7; the average consumption of this Energy Star qualified system is only a modest 5W while idle and maximum power consumption is 19 watts.

Performance and Benchmarks
The Iomega StorCenter ix2-200 drives are each 2TB separately but the RAID 1 mirroring gives the user a combined total space of a single 2TB drive. The Iomega StorCenter ix2 is rated at a theoretical maximum of 1000Mb (megabits) transfer rate on a 1Gb network which equates to 125MB (megabytes) per second. However, we've never seen a NAS in our office that can completely saturate a network connection, so our expectations were pretty low.

Imagine our surprise when the new StorCenter ix2-200 turned out to be one of the fastest NAS devices we've seen in our lab! Atto is one of the standard synthetic benchmarks we use to test the performance of a storage drive. Below you can see the average read and write times for the StorCenter ix2-200 over a standard 1000Mb network connection compared to other NAS devices.

In short, the new Iomega StorCenter ix2-200 delivered roughly three times faster write speeds and almost six times faster read speeds compared to the previous generation StorCenter ix2. Even the Western Digital My Book World Edition NAS devices (a favorite among our editors) couldn't keep up with the new StorCenter. As it stands, this NAS provides faster transfer speeds than what you'll get from a cheap generic USB flash drive connected directly to your computer's USB port ... at least when used over a 1000Mb network switch.

Of course, you should expect a range of slower speeds if you're using a NAS over an internet connection where your NAS sends files via your ISP to another computer accessing files over the web. There are many variables that impact file sharing speeds over the internet, and our lab benchmarks simply indicate the best case scenario when accessing a NAS in your office over a wired LAN connection.

Operational Noise
One of our chief complaints about last year's Iomega StorCenter ix2 was that ran a bit louder than the other NAS enclosures we've tested. Iomega's press materials mentioned the new ix2-200 was much quieter than the old StorCenter, so I was eager to listen closely to this NAS. Unfortunately, the ix2-200 is a bit of a mixed blessing when it comes to noise. Both the storage drives inside the enclosure are completely silent when idle, but produce a substantial amount of noise when reading and writing files. The twin Seagate 7200rpm hard drives inside the enclosure made so much noise while running that our editors had trouble describing it. One of our editors described the noise from the ix2-200 as sounding like a percolating coffee maker, but I would have to say it sounds more like the distant sound of a jammed garbage disposal.

If you plan to keep the StorCenter ix2-200 in your closet or in the back of an office utility room then the noise won't be an issue, but I honestly can't recommend this NAS if you plan to leave it running on your desk right next to your computer.

Conclusion
Iomega came extremely close to making the world's perfect NAS for home and small office use with the new StorCenter ix2-200. This is a phenomenal network storage solution for everyone from average consumers to budget-minded business owners. The software installation and setup is the easiest we've ever seen, and the ix2-200 is hands down the fastest NAS we've ever reviewed.

That said, if you need a network storage drive that sits next to your desk then this isn't the solution for you. While the easy setup and fantastic data transfer speeds make the ix2-200 the best NAS on the market, the noise levels from this thing are just too annoying if you plan to keep this enclosure in close proximity to your workspace.

Bottom line, if you're looking for the easiest and fastest NAS on the market then the Iomega StorCenter ix2-200 is the best of the best. However, if you're looking for the quietest NAS to keep close to your workspace then this NAS is the worst of the worst.

Pros:

  • Extremely easy to setup
  • Even easier to use
  • Amazingly fast transfer speeds
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