Thecus N5200XXX review

Price when reviewed

Thecus’s new five-bay N5200XXX NAS appliance brings some much-needed improvements to its four-year-old predecessor, the N5200PRO. It now has a 1.8GHz Intel Atom processor and 1GB of DDR3 memory, and increases the USB port count from three to five.

Alas, unlike the recommended Qnap TS-459 Pro II, these aren’t USB 3, and it doesn’t support 6Gbits/sec SATA drives either. The N5200XXX will accept them, but they’ll run at only 3Gbits/sec speeds.

Supplied to us by Origin Storage, our review system came with five 1TB WD GreenPower SATA II hard disks. It’s great value at £648 exc VAT; Origin also offers a diskless model for £456, and a 15TB version for £1,268.

Thecus N5200XXX

For installation, the setup wizard locates the appliance and provides access to the main web interface. This isn’t as slick as that of Qnap or Synology, but it’s still easy to use.

RAID choices include mirrors, stripes, RAID5 and dual-drive redundant RAID6. We created a five-drive RAID5 array in six hours, although after the initial formatting process, it was ready to use after 20 minutes.

IP SAN support includes thin provisioning, so you can create iSCSI targets that only use a small amount of space, but appear much larger to the host. IP SAN performance is good, with the Iometer utility reporting raw read speeds over Gigabit Ethernet of 109MB/sec for a 75GB target.

The bundled single-user copy of Acronis True Image Personal takes backups of files, folders or entire drives as images, and creates a bootable recovery disk. Windows Server isn’t supported, though, and you must upgrade if you want features such as scheduling, disk cloning and incremental backups.

The N5200XXX delivered good results in our tests. Using a Broadberry dual-Opteron 4162 rack server running Windows Server 2008 R2, drag-and-drop copies of a 2.52GB video clip returned read and write speeds of 89MB/sec and 86MB/sec.

The FileZilla FTP client reported averages of 99MB/sec and 92MB/sec for downloads and uploads. Our 17.4GB folder of 10,500 files was also handled well, copying to the appliance at a rate of 60MB/sec.

Thecus N5200XXX

All the while, chassis cooling is handled by a large fan at the rear, and although noise levels are low, it isn’t silent. In a busy office it won’t be heard, but in a quiet room it’s certainly noticeable.

The appliance can be upgraded with a range of freely available modules. The IP camera module supports five cameras and provides basic surveillance features, although it isn’t as good as alternatives from Qnap or Synology – it takes only scheduled snapshots at intervals of between one and 60 seconds, for example.

The download station module retrieves remote files via BitTorrent, HTTP, FTP or eMule, and home users will like the Piczza module. This provides a remote web photo server for organising galleries, sharing pictures and adding Google Maps links to show where they were taken.

The N5200XXX delivers some serious performance improvements over its ageing predecessor. Qnap’s TS-459 Pro II is faster and offers more features, but if you want the cheapest five-bay NAS appliance currently available then this Thecus is your best bet.

Basic specifications

RAID capabilityyes
Wired adapter speed1,000Mbits/sec


Ethernet ports2
USB connection?yes
eSATA interfaceyes

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