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Thecus N4100PRO NAS Server Review

Nemo    -   July 19, 2010
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Testing:

After looking at the performance numbers it's time to examine some of the other performance characteristics of the MaxNAS such as cooling and power consumption.

Cooling

The N4100PRO is cooled using a rear-mounted 120mm cooling fan that pulls air through the front of the chassis and across the drives and main board. Without drives, Thecus rates the unit at 21.3 dB(A). While you can hear the fan, it's certainly not loud enough to be annoying, especially with other computers in the room.

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 which I inserted into the center of the case. Temperature readings were taken with the system in idle mode prior to the tests and then monitored throughout the tests.

 

 

 

  Idle Test
Ambient Room 23 C 23 C
Case Interior 29 C 30 C
S.M.A.R.T. Drive 1 40 C 42 C
S.M.A.R.T. Drive 2 42 C 45 C
S.M.A.R.T. Drive 3 44 C 46 C
S.M.A.R.T. Drive 4 42 C 45 C
Fan Speed (RPM) 1687 1694

Looking at the results in the table you can see the average drive temperature increased two degrees which is not bad given the amount of activity generated by the NASPT tests. What is concerning though is the absolute temperature level on the drives. The comparison units, the Synology Disk Station DS408, QNAP TS-509 Pro Turbo and Thecus N3200PRO, all showed SMART drive temperature readings ranging from 6-10 degrees cooler with the exact same drives installed.

Power Consumption:

Having a NAS appliance offers many advantages over a standalone PC used for storage, one of which is lower power consumption. In addition, the N4100PRO offers the ability to put the disks in a low-power mode after a period of 30-300 minutes.

I tested the power usage of the N4100PRO 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 Fail
Idle 50
RAID 5 Test 56-58

The N4100PRO managed to use less power than a 60W light bulb, even under heavy loads. In comparison, the Synology DS408 came in at 41/48 watts, even better than the N4100PRO. However, the unit never managed to register anything lower than 50 watts, even after 30 minutes when the drives should have gone in to hibernate mode. I even tried the test with the network cable disconnected to ensure there was no traffic keeping the drives awake.




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