Thecus 1U4500R review

Price when reviewed

Thecus has been sitting pretty for some time on the PC Pro A List, as we’ve yet to find anything that can compete with its N5200 RouStor (wed ID: 97782) in terms of features, performance and value. It now turns its eye on the business storage market, as the 1U4500R aims to take all the best bits from its desktop boxes and present them in a slimline 1U rack server.

Thecus 1U4500R review

Processing power receives a boost, with the 1U4500R endowed with a low-voltage 1.5GHz Celeron M teamed with 512MB of DDR memory. The “R” in the name indicates this model also offers power redundancy in the shape of a pair of 232W hot-plug supplies at the rear. Thecus’ distinctive blue LCD panel is still evident, although it’s now located in front of the first drive bay and can be swung up out of the way to facilitate drive removal.

Naturally, there’s a price to pay with the reduced chassis size, as the drive count goes down to four, but Boston supplied the review unit with a quartet of 750GB Seagate SATA hard disks. RAID options are still impressive, although a RAID6 dual redundant array with only four available drives will cost you a lot in terms of storage, making RAID5 far more cost-effective. Internally, there isn’t much to see, with the compact motherboard tucked in one corner and the power supply enclosure alongside. The drive backplane has individual SATA connectors, and these are cabled directly to a daughtercard sitting in a proprietary slot in the mainboard.

The web interface doesn’t see any design improvements over the N5200, but does offer easy access to all the features. RAID arrays are easy to create, and you get an option to migrate mirrored and striped arrays to RAID5. Client support extends to Windows, Linux, Unix and Mac systems, and FTP services are available, too. Shared security options start with the local user and group database, but the appliance can use NT domain and AD authentication, while ACLs using local username and password combinations, and group memberships can be applied to each folder. With the focus on business use, Thecus has removed a number of features found on its desktop appliances, including the iTunes and media servers and its download manager.

Once your array has been initialised, you get an Nsync folder created automatically that’s used for appliance-to-appliance backup, which can be scheduled to run at regular intervals. Usefully, this feature can also be used to secure selected folders on the appliance to an FTP server. You get support for scheduled volume snapshots, too, but workstation backup is poorly served, with Thecus’ bundled client backup software short on features. Performance over Gigabit Ethernet is good, with the Iometer utility reporting a 52MB/sec raw read throughput – identical to the N5200. Copying a 691MB video file to the appliance also delivered fast real-world read and write speeds of 28MB/sec.

For a business NAS appliance, the 1U4500R comes up short on features when compared with Windows Storage Server 2003-powered systems. However, it delivers a good hardware package offering reasonable performance and plenty of storage for the price.

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