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Thecus N3200XXX NAS Server Review

Nemo    -   October 6, 2011
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Testing:

There are two aspects concerning the operation of the N3200XXX we need to examine next and that concerns the cooling performance and power consumption of the system.

Cooling

The 92mm fan on the N3200XXX is thermally controlled based on the processor temperature. It's centrally located on the rear panel, which allows it to pull air through the front grill intake and across the drives and exhaust the warm out out the back. Thecus doesn't publish noise levels for the fan, but it certainly wasn't audible from a few feet away, especially over the noisy hard drives.

Using the NAS Performance Toolkit, I ran a full series of tests with the NAS configured with a RAID 5 array and used the S.M.A.R.T. drive temperature readings for each individual drive. I also used a digital temperature probe that I inserted into the center of the case. System temperature and fan speed were obtained from the LCD readout on the unit. Temperature readings were taken with the system in idle mode prior to the tests and then monitored throughout the tests.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

  Idle Test
Ambient Room 22 °C 22 °C
Case Interior 31 °C 46 °C
System 31 °C 55 °C
S.M.A.R.T. Drive 1 29 °C 46 °C
S.M.A.R.T. Drive 2 28 °C 46 °C
S.M.A.R.T. Drive 3 31 °C 47 °C
Fan Speed (RPM) 1383 1418

The temperature readings here came as somewhat of a surprise, showing the largest temperature deltas of any unit we've tested to date. SMART hard drive temperatures increased by 16-18 degrees Celsius with case temperatures climbing 15 degrees Celsius. The thermally controlled fan didn't break much of a sweat though, only increasing its speed 35 RPM. I raised a concern on the first page of the review concerning the grill opening on the front door and whether that might negatively impact cooling. The reduced grill size, especially compared to its N3200PRO predecessor, combined with a low fan speed, resulted in some disappointing cooling numbers.

Power Consumption

One of the advantages of having a NAS appliance for storage versus a standalone PC is lower power consumption. The N3200XXX also offers the ability to put the disks in a low-power mode after a period of 30-120 minutes of non-use.

I tested the power usage of the N3200XXX in an idle state with the disks spinning but no activity, during a full RAID 5 test with read and write activity, and finally in power management mode with all drives set to power down after the minimum 30 minute period. All measurements were taken with a P3 International P4400 Kill A Watt power meter.

State Watts
Power Mgt. Mode 15
Idle 36
RAID 5 Test 39-41

The N3200XXX managed to use about the same amount of power as a 40W light bulb, even under heavy loads. It's predecessor, the N3200PRO came in a couple of watts lower, but we're using 3TB drives in this test versus 500GB in the previous unit. In power saving mode, the N3200XXX lived up to its claim of 'Extreme Power Management' by using only 15 watts.




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