Thecus N3200PRO NAS Server ReviewNemo - June 14, 2009
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RAID 5 Comes Home. That's what it says on the box and it sums up a lot of what's great about the N3200PRO – a three-bay network attached storage server for the home user that features RAID 5. The unit occupies a nice niche between lower powered 2-bay units than can only offer RAID 1 protection and more powerful units than have four or more bays more suited for business users that offer RAID 5 protection yet cost two to three times as much. If Goldilocks was sampling NAS servers at the Three Bears' house she would look at Baby Bear's two-drive unit and say “This NAS is too small!” and move on to Papa Bear's business-class unit and say “This NAS is too big!” and Mama Bear's N3200PRO would cause her to exclaim “This NAS is just right!”
That's not to say the N3200PRO is perfect. The documentation accompanying the unit is missing features found on the NAS and the remaining documentation may be too incomplete for the average home user. The management UI is also lacking an online help feature, something even the smaller DNS-323 has. The lack of standard size jumbo frames may disappoint some more advanced users as well. Others features I'd like to see Thecus include in future firmware releases are the ability to create subfolders and assign rights to them. Currently you're limited to created folders and assigning rights at the root level. Another omission is the lack of a quota system found on other units we've reviewed.
The N3200PRO still has a lot going for it. Its feature set is fairly complete and on par with other home NAS products and the performance is impressive for its class. While it couldn't match the more powerful units from Synology and QNAP with their more powerful processors and greater memory sizes, the N3200PRO certainly turned it some good performance numbers and even managed to match and best the business class units in a few tests. Its RAID 5 capability sets it apart from the other home NAS servers and the tool less drive mounting feature and hot swap capability are noteworthy. I also really like features such as the ISO Mount and the ability to designate a hot spare drive for RAID 1 volumes. Despite its suggested retail price of $379.99, the N3200PRO can be found online for $330 - $350 which is half the cost of the Synology DS408 and a third that of the QNAP TS-509, of course all these unit come without hard drives so you would need to factor that in as well.
The N3200PRO would make an excellent addition to any home network and its strong performance, outstanding RAID 1/RAID 5 data protection and ability to store up to 3TB of data should place this on any home user's short list of NAS units to buy. The N3200PRO is a great NAS, one that I would certainly not hesitate to recommend to others. Since this is a NAS server targeted at home users, there are enough issues such as the incomplete and sparse documentation and missing features that cause the unit to fall just short of superb. Fortunately, these are issues that Thecus can correct and I would expect future releases to improve this unit's rating.
- Excellent overall performance
- ISO Mount feature
- Tool less hard drive installation
- Drive hot swapping
- RAID 1 hot spare
- S.M.A.R.T. reporting capability
- eSATA support
- RAID 5 support in a home NAS server
- Performance vs. price point
- Documentation lacking details, some features not documented
- No quota system
- Can't assign permissions to subfolders
- No support for single drive volumes