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ASUS TS mini Home Server

At a Glance
Product ASUS Home Server (TS mini)
Summary Dual-bay WHS NAS with lots of USB and two eSATA ports, running on Atom N280 and with local and cloud backup add-ins.
Pros • Simple to set up and use
• Two eSATA and six USB 2.0 ports for expansion
• Bundled backup software for Windows and Mac OS
Cons • 10 user limit
• Jumbo frames not supported from WHS interface

ASUS has decided to get into the home storage game, choosing Windows Home Server as its OS platform. The TS mini is a smallish box with two internal 3.5" SATA bays and plenty of USB 2.0 and eSATA ports for your expansion pleasure. It will appeal to those looking to step up a bit from HP's single-bay LX195, but still wanting a store-bought WHS system less expensive than HP's EX MediaSmarts or the business-oriented StorageWorks Data Vault X510.

The mini has a small (~ 4" x 8") footprint, but stands almost 10" tall. Glossy black plastic covers are wrapped around a metal chassis. Figure 1 shows the front panel, with only four indicators, and rear panel that sports six USB 2.0 ports, two eSATA and a single 10/100/1000 Ethernet port. Neither view shows the power button, which is on the front edge of the top cover.

ASUS TS mini front and rear panels

Figure 1: ASUS TS mini front and rear panels

The Ethernet port does support up to 9K jumbo frames. But, like all WHS systems, there's no ability to control jumbos from the WHS Console. After you install the connector and get a password set up, however, you can Remote Desktop into the mini and twiddle the jumbo frame knob there.

Inside Details

It's easy to get into the mini; just remove two rear thumbscrews and slide the cover back. You then need to remove three screws that secure the drive assembly to the main board, then lift it straight up with a bit of a tug.

Figure 2 shows a single Seagate Barracuda 7200.12 500 GB drive (ST3500418AS) installed and one empty bay on the 500 GB review sample.

ASUS TS mini Drive assembly
Click to enlarge image

Figure 2: ASUS TS mini Drive assembly

Figure 3 shows the view with the drive assembly removed. The two small fans run very quietly and the whole system with one drive installed drew only 18 W.

ASUS TS mini  main board
Click to enlarge image

Figure 3: ASUS TS mini main board

The 1.66 GHz Atom N280 CPU is under the smallest heatsink and Intel 82801GBM/GHM ICH7-M SouthBridge and 82945G mobile graphics devices lay under the larger one. 1 GB of RAM is installed somewhere on the other side of the board. I don't know if you can install more memory, but ASUS makes a second version of the mini with 2 TB of disk and 2 GB of RAM.

Other devices I found on the board were a Marvell 88SE6121 SATA II controller near the two eSATA ports, which I'm assuming it handles, Realtek RTL8112L 10/100/1000 Ethernet controller, ENE KB3310 embedded controller, Phison PS2232 flash controller and 256 MB of Samsung flash. Figure 4 shows a shot of the mini's device manager, which confirms what I found.

ASUS TS mini devices

Figure 4: ASUS TS mini devices

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