Thecus N3200PRO NAS Server ReviewNemo - June 14, 2009
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At this point in the review we've managed to cover a lot of ground including a look at how to set up the unit and how to configure the system to take advantage of some of the features it offers. Having just finished looking at how well the server performs using theoretical benchmarks as well some real-world testing, it's time to look at some of the practical operational aspects of the N3200PRO.
The unit is cooled by a rear-mounted thermally-controlled 92mm exhaust fan which is audible but not so noisy as to be overly annoying as it wasn't loud enough to drown out the noise from the three disk drives during heavy read/write operations. The fan guard consists of a series of horizontal bars that leave plenty of room for the air to escape. The fan spins around 1300RPM when the system is idle, just fast enough for you to feel a small amount of air movement. The fresh air intake comes via three grills on the front of the unit that are positioned directly in front of the three hard drives. That places the airflow path directly across each drive with a direct shot to the fan in the rear. Each drive has approximately 1/4 inch spacing between them to allow for air movement.
The case became warm to the touch during testing but just slightly above ambient room temperature. To test how well the system cools itself, I used the NAS performance Toolkit to run a full series of tests in a RAID 5 configuration and monitored the S.M.A.R.T. drive temperature readings as well as the system temperature reported on the LCD panel on the front of the unit. To monitor the interior case temperatures I inserted a digital temperature probe into the case with the probe positioned directly to the rear of the drives in the center of the case. Temperature readings were taken prior to the run with the hard drives spinning and then throughout the test.
|Ambient Room||23 C||23 C|
|System||38 C||40 C|
|Case Interior||32 C||33 C|
|S.M.A.R.T. Drive 1||36 C||38 C|
|S.M.A.R.T. Drive 2||35 C||38 C|
|S.M.A.R.T. Drive 3||36 C||39 C|
The temperature deltas for the drives were only 2-3º C and the case temperature rose only 1º C. The fan speed notched up a barely noticeable 5RPM to 1326RPM which kept the system temperature in check where it rose from 38 to 40º C during the full load test.
Many enthusiasts may insist on building their own NAS out of spare parts which is a worthy endeavor, but one thing most builders will have a hard time matching is the ability of NAS servers like the N3200PRO to achieve its function while only using a small amount of power. With the N3200PRO, like most other units we've tested, you can set the drives to go into hibernation using the options under the Storage/SATA section in the management UI. Using the drop down list the unit can be set to hibernate the drives after anywhere from 30 minutes to 120 minutes of inactivity.
I tested the various power usage levels of the N3200PRO at idle with the disks spinning but no activity, during a full test with read and write activity with the drives configured in RAID 5 and finally in power management mode with all drives set to power down after 30 minutes. All measurements were taken with a P3 International P4400 Kill A Watt power meter.
|Power Mgt. Mode||26|
|RAID 5 Test||33-35|
During the heavy load generated by the Intel NAS Performance toolkit with all three drives being utilized the average power consumption observed was only 33-35 watts; at idle that dropped to only 29 watts. Getting the unit to hibernate the disks is challenging as there is always activity on the network and the server itself that causes drive activity and keeps them active. I finally managed to see a slight power drop to 26 watts, but only after turning off all services on the server and removing it from the network. For all that effort you save 3 watts of power usage and you end up with a server that's of no use since it can't be accessed from the network. Thecus would better serve its customers if it would have the entire server hibernate to enable some realistic power savings without having to turn the unit off.