Thecus N3200 review
Thecus is garnering quite a reputation for its SMB NAS appliances, with its N5200PRO RouStor currently sitting pretty on the PC Pro A List (web ID: 137454). Not content to rest on its laurels it now delivers the N3200, which aims to bring RAID5 to everyone, and at a very tempting price.
With a solid aluminium chassis this compact appliance houses three SATA hard disks, which are accessed by lifting up the top part of the front panel and unscrewing the hot-swap carriers. Supplier Boston Limited provided the review system with a very tasty trio of 1TB Hitachi UltraStar SATA hard disks. Down below is Thecus’ trademark blue LCD panel, which displays the state of the RAID array, the system fan, internal temperatures plus the IP addresses for both gigabit ethernet ports. The buttons alongside can be used to manually configure the IP addresses and also copy the contents of a USB device inserted in the front port to a default folder and shared ready for network access. Unfortunately, Thecus’ client backup software looks more of an afterthought: although you can schedule full and incremental backups to the appliance, it lacks good management, alerting and reporting facilities.
Don’t buy the N3200 for its extra PCI expansion slot, since it won’t be used on this model. Thecus plans to launch an N3200M model later on with an AV card preinstalled, which will offer features such as HDMI and optical outputs.
The appliance can be wireless enabled by popping a dongle in the USB ports. New WLAN features will appear in the web interface and the list of supported devices is now extensive.
The bundled Setup wizard helps configure network parameters and offers a choice of three RAID array types (we opted for RAID5). The web interface is the same design as all other Thecus appliances and is easy enough to use. Access security extends to local user and group membership, or you can go for AD and NT domain authentication. A group of predefined public folders are created, which are accessed via a browser to view general files, music, videos and personal photo galleries. You get the ubiquitous iTunes server, while the integral Mediabolic media server allows the N3200 to dish up multimedia content to any compliant player device. The Download Manager is used to schedule HTTP, FTP and BitTorrent downloads to the appliance and can be left running without a PC switched on.
The new web camera feature looks interesting, as you can connect a USB camera and set the appliance to store snapshots taken from it at regular intervals. Along with external storage, the USB ports can be used to connect and share printers as well. Performance is reasonable, with a 690MB video file copied to and from the appliance over gigabit ethernet for average read and write speeds of 21MB/sec and 15MB/sec. With the FileZilla utility we saw FTP speeds using the same file settle to 32.9MB/sec and 16.5MB/sec for read and write operations.
The N3200 is a neat little NAS appliance offering RAID5 data protection and plenty of storage for the price, although the multimedia features are of limited value for small businesses, the PCI slot is currently redundant and backup facilities are basic.