Thecus N3200PRO NAS Server ReviewNemo - June 14, 2009
Category: Storage / Hard Drives
: Thecus Technology Corp.
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When looking at storage solutions, eventually users outgrow the capacity available on their local hard drives, or their needs become more sophisticated as in the case of home theater or multimedia setups. As today's homes become more networked having local storage silos no longer makes since. The logical solution to these issue is some sort of networked storage where files are available across the network. That's where a network attached storage (NAS) server comes in.
A NAS server offers many benefits starting with the obvious one which is additional storage space. However, using a NAS server just to add more capacity is cheating yourself out of the many other benefits that can be found in most NAS devices today. Most multi-drive NAS units offer some form of redundancy through the use of RAID arrays as well as being able to stream multimedia files across the network and even act as a web server. Home office users can even take advantage of features such as defining users and groups and setting permissions on shared folders.
We've reviewed several NAS devices here at Overclockers Club that range from dual drive units up to 5-bay hot swappable units intended for small to medium sized businesses. The problem with the smaller two-bay units is they can only offer support for RAID 1 at a cost of half the available drive space. On the other end of the spectrum, the larger 4- and 5-bay units offer more features including RAID 5/6 support but the added features and speed come at a cost premium that put them beyond the typical home user's budget. Thecus has addressed this problem with the Thecus N3200PRO NAS server which is a 3-bay unit that fits neatly in between the lower-end two drive units and the more capable 4- and 5-bay units at the higher end.
Thecus Technology was founded in 2004 as a manufacturer of digital storage products. In addition the N3200PRO, Thecus offers a full range of storage products ranging from single drive enclosures all the way up to enterprise-class rackmount servers. With its product line totally devoted to storage, Thecus has focused on ease of use and making its products accessible to both novices and experts. Given that level of commitment, let's check out the N3200PRO and set what it's got to offer.
The N3200PRO arrived in a sturdy cardboard shipping box which did a good job of protecting it during transit. The front and and back of the box holding the N3200PRO contain identical images of the unit featuring the tag line 'RAID 5 Comes Home' touting the unit's ability to support RAID 5 for home users since it supports up to three hard drives. One one side of the box is a graphic depicting a typical setup in a home network environment. The opposing side of the box lists some of the features of the unit.
Popping the box open we can see the unit is surrounded by closed-cell foam inserts that keep the unit securely in the center of the box with enough dead space around it to protect the unit from any shipping mishaps. Pulling everything out of the box gives you an even better idea of how well protected the unit is. Also included in the box are an external power supply and an accessories pack containing the installation CD, a Cat5e network cable and a quick install guide.
The unit also came enclosed in a plastic bag to further protect it from scratches during packing and shipping. Looking at the front of the unit you can see the top half of the unit is taken up by the front plate with ventilation grills that cover the hard drive bays. Below that is the LCM display module. Along the bottom of the unit are a front USB port and the LED status indicators. A power supply button is on the lower right bracketed by rocker switches used to change and select items on the LCM panel. Moving to the rear of the unit the first thing you notice is the large cooling fan which occupies most of the back panel. Below the fan in the lower left hand corner we see the two Gigabit Ethernet ports. Progressing left to right, we have the system reset button, a USB connection with an eSATA connection below it and the power connector. Finally, on the right side of the panel is something called the expansion port which is reserved for future expansion modules that may be released by Thecus. When we flip the unit over we can get a good look at the bottom of the case which features four rectangular rubber feet to keep the unit from slipping and to protect anything beneath it if you choose to stack the N3200PRO on top of another component.
Let's move on to the next step and see what it takes to install a set of hard drives into the unit.