Review: RockPro64 NAS and CloudShell2 NAS
by Mikeal Tadeo
The two NAS kits: RockPro64 NAS and CloudShell2 NAS
Looking for a network storage solution? Look no further! With both the RockPro64 NAS and the CloudShell2 NAS, there’s an answer for everyone. For this review, I used OpenMediaVault, and you can also view the setup guide located at https://ameridroid.com/blogs/ameriblogs/how-to-build-your-own-nas-server-with-the-rockpro64. OpenMediaVault behaves the same way on both the RockPro64 and the ODROID-XU4, so I’ll get right into the review of the products.
At the time of this writing, the RockPro64 NAS kit comes in at $44.95, while the CloudShell2 NAS kit is priced at $69.95. However, these prices are for the kit only and don’t include the SBCs, add-ons required, hard drives, or power supplies. With all of the necessary items besides the HDDs, the price to set up a RockPro64 NAS is $151.81 and the price to set up a CloudShell2 NAS is $148.80, so the pricing is very similar. HDDs, depending on your storage needs, could range from $70 to $150 or more. I highly suggest that you get two identical drives and create a mirrored RAID for data redundancy. (Note that these prices do not include either shipping or taxes).
Build quality and assembly
There’s a big difference in the build quality between the two kits. The RockPro64 kit is built out of metal, while the CloudShell2 has either clear or transparent blue acrylic. Now while metal vs. acrylic is a big difference, don’t let that dissuade you from getting a CloudShell2. The transparent acrylic is quite sturdy when assembled and lets you see the components inside.
The RockPro64 kit measures 14.5 x 10.5 x 23.0 cm and the CloudShell2 measures 11.2 x 13.5 x 21.5 cm. When assembled, they’re roughly the same shape. The main connections for the RockPro64 kit are located on the side, while on the CloudShell2 they are located on the top/rear for Ethernet/USB and the left/front side for power.
Assembling the RockPro64 kit wasn’t too difficult, but I did have a little trouble determining which way to orient the HDD inside the case. The SATA cables were also slightly hard to manage, but once all of the screws are in, the kit is rock-solid. Aside from those two issues, there’s little ambiguity where any of the RockPro64 parts go, and there’s plenty of guides out there, including our assembly video found at https://youtu.be/_UeeklKo0Og. If you’re planning on booting by eMMC, there is a guide that you’ll need to follow in order to use it, located at https://ameridroid.com/blogs/ameriblogs/writing-an-image-to-your-emmc
The CloudShell2 was slightly easier to assemble. Most of the pieces are press-fit and it requires fewer screws. Cabling has a definite path, and doesn’t feel like you have to shove it wherever it can fit. There’s only one complaint I have about this kit: The bottom of the case is completely exposed. This isn’t an issue for me as it helps keep the airflow away from the SBC, but it could be a deal-breaker for some. Booting by eMMC is far easier with the XU4, but make sure you have the boot device switch on the side set to the correct boot device.
Both systems have a case fan that should pull in cool air and blow it over both the HDDs and the SBC. However, there is currently an issue with the fan system wherein it doesn’t take into account the temperature of the HDDs, only the SBC temperature, when deciding whether or not to turn the fan on. This isn’t a huge issue, but the HDDs do get slightly hot depending on what models you have. There is a fix on the way for this, but for now, you’ll have to make due without it.
Lastly, the CloudShell2 has a screen at the front of the case, while the RockPro64 does not. This could be a useful feature for some, but it does not matter to me. The VoDisplay can be added to either unit for adding a screen to display any additional information desired.
Both of these kits offer a lot of value, but I prefer the RockPro64 kit. The all-metal design provides a much more robust option and provides great protection for your device. However, the CloudShell2 has more support and is a little easier to set up if you choose to use an eMMC. With either kit, you’re going to be getting awesome value and a NAS that is easy to use and maintain for years to come!