Areca 5026 4-bay Thunderbolt RAID - Thoughts so far

Yahooligan

macrumors 6502a
Original poster
Aug 7, 2011
965
113
Illinois
The short version: This thing is FAST. 600+MB/s write and 480+MB/s read with 4x3TB, 7200 RPM Seagate Barracuda drives.

The longer version is that I've experimented with a bunch of various RAID products over the years, virtually all of them have been NAS because I wanted a stand-alone storage device for storing backups and other files.

I've had:
ReadyNAS NV+ - Slow
Drobo FS - Not as slow as the ReadyNAS
Synology DS1511+ - Respectable, able to fill a 1GbE pipe when moving large files

The Synology was great for what it was; A Home/SMB NAS capable of running basic services (Basically running a small Linux install) and working as a reliable RAID NAS. The upside is that there are a number of apps for it that are easy to install, the downside is that since it's a custom Linux install it's not particularly easy to manually install 3rd party apps. Eventually, as usual, I outgrew its performance and abilities but I didn't want to go back to managing a Linux box again. I do that for work, I didn't want to do that at home. I just wanted something that worked with minimal fuss. So, I moved forward with my plan to use a Mac Mini + RAID as a server. I already knew what I was going to run on it as far as software/services go, but I wasn't sure what I wanted to do about the storage. On my list were...

  • OWC Thunderbay IV - A bit pricey for something that doesn't have HW RAID
  • Areca ARC-8050 - 8-bay goodness but a price to go with it
  • Areca ARC-5026 - More than the Thunderbay, less than the Pegasus, HW RAID
  • Pegasus R4 - Pricey and not sure how I felt about the reviews and customer service

While debating the above, I decided to also try a $350 Dyconn Quartz 5-bay USB3.0 HW RAID enclosure available from my local shop. Reading TB vs USB3.0 performance comparisons I figured I might be able to get some good speed out of it and $350 is better than some of the other options.

The Dyconn was horrible. It could do 220MB/s sequential read/write if nothing else was talking to it, but throw anything else at it and it'd tank. I tried OS X software RAID10 and saw worse performance. What junk.

So, I pulled the trigger on the Areca 5026. I wanted at least 5 bays but didn't feel like spending the money on the 8-bay or the Pegasus R6, oh well. 4 bays it is.

Installed the 4x3TB Seagate 7200RPM drives in it, connected to the web UI, tweaked some settings, and let it initialize the new RAID5 array (9TB usable). I had it do foreground init and this took 3-4 hours I think. When it was done I partitioned and formatted, then I did some tests. Tied to the Mac Mini, this is the best storage solution I've used yet. Very fast and, after reading through the manual, very "serviceable."

What I mean by serviceable is that Areca has put thought into how to handle a controller failure. A lot of people assume that HW RAID is proprietary and, with the exception of one or two brands, if the controller craps out then you lose your data because the controller had the RAID config on it. With Areca that would be a wrong assumption. The RAID configuration is stored on the drives so if you should suffer a controller failure it's simply a matter of getting a new controller/enclosure, moving the drives over (in any order), and powering it on. Boom, your RAID is back online.

I've read a lot of positive reviews about Areca and now I can see why, these are a great, less expensive, very fast alternative to the more expensive Pegasus units. I highly recommend looking at Areca if you're considering a HW RAID. The 5026 has both Thunderbolt and USB3.0, however at 600+MB/s that is basically all of USB3.0's pipe.
 

danny_w

macrumors 601
Mar 8, 2005
4,380
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Austin, TX
How can you say it is less expensive than the Pegasus units? The Pegasus2 R4 diskless is $699 from the Apple store (and is Thunderbolt2), and the cheapest I could find the 5026 diskless today was $829 (and is Thunderbolt1). How much did you pay if I may ask, and where did you get it?
 

Yahooligan

macrumors 6502a
Original poster
Aug 7, 2011
965
113
Illinois
How can you say it is less expensive than the Pegasus units? The Pegasus2 R4 diskless is $699 from the Apple store (and is Thunderbolt2), and the cheapest I could find the 5026 diskless today was $829 (and is Thunderbolt1). How much did you pay if I may ask, and where did you get it?

That's true, I wasn't looking at diskless. The diskless 5026 with 4x3TB is cheaper than the 8TB Pegasus2 R4 and has more space. Of course, you could order the Pegasus2 from Apple and the drives from Amazon and still be cheaper and performance seems to be similar or a little less than the Areca.

I'm not worried about TB2, a 4-bay enclosure isn't going to be able to fill up TB1 so it's a non-issue, just put it at the end of your TB2 chain.

Hopefully I won't have any technical issues, but if I do then Areca's support should be much better than Promise's, which seems to be a major complaint.

I don't think you can go wrong with either setup.
 

danny_w

macrumors 601
Mar 8, 2005
4,380
179
Austin, TX
That's true, I wasn't looking at diskless. The diskless 5026 with 4x3TB is cheaper than the 8TB Pegasus2 R4 and has more space. Of course, you could order the Pegasus2 from Apple and the drives from Amazon and still be cheaper and performance seems to be similar or a little less than the Areca.

I'm not worried about TB2, a 4-bay enclosure isn't going to be able to fill up TB1 so it's a non-issue, just put it at the end of your TB2 chain.

Hopefully I won't have any technical issues, but if I do then Areca's support should be much better than Promise's, which seems to be a major complaint.

I don't think you can go wrong with either setup.
Thanks for the clarification. The speed is tempting but I think I will keep my Drobo 5D for now.
 

ColdCase

macrumors 68040
Feb 10, 2008
3,003
152
NH
Then newer model 8 bay arecas are TB2... but at a premium $$$ as most TB2 stuff is.
 
Last edited:

Yahooligan

macrumors 6502a
Original poster
Aug 7, 2011
965
113
Illinois
As promised, here are the AJA and Blackmagic test results. Blackmagic can be somewhat misleading at times due to the 5GB max test size vs AJA's 16GB. I re-did the Blackmagic test just now and the results are more consistent. I love this RAID. :)

https://forums.macrumors.com/attachment.php?attachmentid=466819&stc=1&d=1396141539

https://forums.macrumors.com/attachment.php?attachmentid=466820&stc=1&d=1396141539
 

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juanm

macrumors 68000
May 1, 2006
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Fury 161
The short version: This thing is FAST. 600+MB/s write and 480+MB/s read with 4x3TB, 7200 RPM Seagate Barracuda drives.

Thanks! Here in Europe I couldn't find the diskless Promise, so I just pulled the trigger on a diskless 5026. :)

I'll give my impressions when I receive it.
 

Yahooligan

macrumors 6502a
Original poster
Aug 7, 2011
965
113
Illinois
I just wanted to follow up since it's been a while.

The Areca is still running awesome! :) No problems whatsoever, however I wasn't particularly happy with the fan kicking into high speed at random, which was rather noisy. Low speed was fine.

So, I decided to check for a firmware update. Here's where things got interesting. My Areca said v1.52 but it was showing a build date of like 11/2013. On Areca's site it also showed v1.52...but a date of 4/18/2014.

Huh.

So, I applied the "new" v1.52 files and restarted the Areca, not expecting any change since the version was the same, but guess what? Fan problem solved! The Areca is silent now, even quieter than it was before on "low" speed. So, yay!
 

juanm

macrumors 68000
May 1, 2006
1,576
2,994
Fury 161
I just wanted to follow up since it's been a while.

The Areca is still running awesome! :) No problems whatsoever, however I wasn't particularly happy with the fan kicking into high speed at random, which was rather noisy. Low speed was fine.

So, I decided to check for a firmware update. Here's where things got interesting. My Areca said v1.52 but it was showing a build date of like 11/2013. On Areca's site it also showed v1.52...but a date of 4/18/2014.

Huh.

So, I applied the "new" v1.52 files and restarted the Areca, not expecting any change since the version was the same, but guess what? Fan problem solved! The Areca is silent now, even quieter than it was before on "low" speed. So, yay!
I got one too. It's great. Silent,and like you I get very good read/write speeds (around 550) with four 3TB Seagate Barracuda in Raid 5.
 

MrX8503

macrumors 68020
Sep 19, 2010
2,274
1,580
Thanks for this review. I have the same thoughts as you using a mac mini server with a RAID box. Right now I'm running WHS, and gigabit ethernet is too darn slow. I'll probably stick with my setup for a few more years before redoing my storage setup again.
 

ilandmac

macrumors member
Mar 25, 2012
83
2
Remote island
5026 Starts & stops

Hello Yahooligan,

Just got the 5026. Nice!

However when it's not in use, it will start (& stop) at just about
every hour when not in use. Looked at the logs, not much info
there.

Any hint ?

Tks
ilandmac
 

Yahooligan

macrumors 6502a
Original poster
Aug 7, 2011
965
113
Illinois
Hello Yahooligan,

Just got the 5026. Nice!

However when it's not in use, it will start (& stop) at just about
every hour when not in use. Looked at the logs, not much info
there.

Any hint ?

Tks
ilandmac
Yeah, if you go into the RAID manager (I use the web UI and not the app) and go to System Controls -> HDD Power Management you can change or completely disable power management. Here are the settings I use, the Areca itself and the drives stay powered on all the time.

Also, make sure that you do NOT have "Put hard disks to sleep when possible" checked in your Mac system prefs as that may also be triggering sleep mode.

https://forums.macrumors.com/attachment.php?attachmentid=480191&stc=1&d=1405036274
 

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mono79

macrumors newbie
Jul 13, 2014
1
0
Flicker issues on TB SDI device using ARC 5026

I'm using the Areca 5026 for almost 4 months now. Attached the drive via TB to an late 2013 iMac 27". I'm using two Pegasus R8 24TB/each, a Sonnet Echo Express SxS adapter and a Blackmagic Design Ultrastudio Express daisy chained on that machine. Once I'm copying to the drive the SDI out of the Thunderbolt Video i/o start flickering. I figured out that the Areca Raid is causing the flickering. I rearranged the Thunderbolt chains without any luck. I tried the Areca with USB3 - no luck - still flickering. I tried just the Areca and the Video i/o attached - same same. I tried the BMD disk speed test App with all drives. The flickering just appears while WRITING to the Areca Raid. You can clearly see it since the read / write cycles are running after each other.

Does anyone have a clue what might be wrong here? I updated the Firmware without any luck. I'm using 4 3TB Seagate Barracuda (7200rpm) 64MB S-ATA3 HDDs.

Any help is greatly appreciated since I desperately need that drive to work properly...

Severin
 

hobowankenobi

macrumors 65816
Aug 27, 2015
1,347
409
on the land line mr. smith.
Just bumped into this thread. Thanks for the review. Any updates or thoughts now? Looking at this model for a Mac Pro video editing station.

As for the flickering issue reported by mono79, I would be curious how full the array was, as I would expect that a mostly full/fragmented volume could be a complicating factor with continuous write speeds.
 

HenryAZ

macrumors 6502a
Jan 9, 2010
632
114
South Congress AZ
I have used this model since late 2013, originally connected to a 2011 Mac Mini. I do not use RAID. For my purposes, and from my experience with RAID over 20+ years, it does not give me anything useful. Hot swap, maybe, if it doesn't puke, but I would rather back up to separate drives, kept apart. I have used the 5026 as a container for separate JBOD disks, always on, always there, never sleeping, so they are perfect for data drives off of the boot drive.

The one thing I've learned about the firmware versions is to watch the controller temp. Some versions tend towards higher temps, approaching 70 degrees C, which is when it will shut itself down. Other versions run much cooler. I have every version Areca has put out for this device, have tried them all, and to date, I find the 1.52, 2014-12-12 version to be the most stable and temperature friendly. One nice thing about the Areca firmware is you can upgrade and/or downgrade at will.

Mine has been running connected to a late 2013 trashcan Mac Pro since early in 2014.
 
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