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Thecus N4800 NAS Server Reviewed

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NAS Server
At a glance
ProductThecus N4800 NAS Server   [Website]
SummaryD2700 Atom-based four-drive BYOD NAS with built-in battery backup, USB 3.0 and HDMI ports, supporting multiple volumes and filesystems with many serving options.
Pros• Multiple volume support
• USB 3.0 ports
• Built-in battery backup
• HDMI port
Cons• No WebDAV support
• Very basic IPv6 support

Typical Price: $709  Compare Prices  Check Amazon

Overview

Thecus recently upgraded its "SMB" NAS line with two models based on an Intel D2700 "Cedar View" Atom platform. I'm looking at the four bay N4800, which looks very much like the N4200PRO I reviewed last August.

From the front, the N4800 and N4200PRO look almost identical, were it not for the two blue-coded USB connectors that indicate USB 3.0. Everything else is the same as per Figure 1. The main changes are on the rear panel, where USB 2.0 ports have been reduced from four to two and eSATA ports from two to one. Thecus has used the freed-up space to add VGA and HDMI ports instead.

N4200PRO Front and rear panel callouts
Figure 1: N4800 Front and rear panel callouts

The VGA port is primarily intended for console use, while Thecus has more ambitious plans for the HDMI. They are planning to issue a firmware update "by end of June" that will enable video playback and Internet browsing directly from the NAS. The intent is to have the N4200 and N4800 be able to function as pseudo HTPCs as well as NASes. We'll have to wait until next month to see what features the firmware update actually brings.

Like the N4200 and 4200PRO, the N4800 has a built-in backup battery that Thecus calls a "Mini-UPS", which allows for an automatic orderly shutdown when power fails. This is a unique feature that I would like to see other companies offer. Of course, any NAS should be run with an external UPS, which provides power conditioning in addition to orderly shutdown in the event of power failure.

Thecus supplied the N4800 with four 1 TB Seagate Barracuda 7200.12 (ST31000524AS) drives for testing. They brought total power consumption with all drives spun up to 43 W and 22 W with the drives spun down via the programmable idle drive power save feature.

I rated noise as low. The low hum of the four drives was audible in my quiet home office, but there was little fan noise, even under the load imposed by our benchmark tests.

Inside

Figure 2 shows the inside of the N4800 with just the top cover removed, revealing a few surprises. The empty bracketry is there to hold the included "Mini-UPS" Lithium-ion battery that I didn't bother to install. This feature functions the same as an external UPS, but with a shorter backup period. I tested it via an AC cord pull test back in the N4200 review and found it worked well.

N4800 inside

Figure 2: N4800 inside

The tighter, clearer view in Figure 3 shows a mini-PCIe slot on the left that looks like it could hold a wireless LAN card. And to the right under the white power connector is a PCI-e X1 connector, even though the N4800 spec doesn't mention an expansion slot like the N4200 and N4200PRO do.

N4800 inside closeup

Figure 3: N4800 inside closeup

That part marked "Industrial MDS module" is a 1 GB Disk on Memory (DOM) and there is only one of them. It could be that Thecus has given up on using its "dual DOM" feature to differentiate itself.

The key part summary in Table 1 also includes parts for the N4200PRO for comparison. The Southbridge guess for the N4800 came from looking at the boot message log; I didn't remove the board or heatsinks to confirm.

  N4800 N4200PRO
CPU Intel D2700 Atom Intel D525 Atom
RAM 2 GB DDR3 SoDIMM 1 GB DDR3 SoDIMM
Flash 1 GB Dual 128 MB
Ethernet Intel WG82574L (x2) Intel WG82574L (x2)
Southbridge [?] Intel 82801 (ICH10R) Intel NM10
USB 3.0 NEC D720200 NEC D720200
(on add-in board)
Table 1: Key component summary and comparison

A key difference from the original N4200 is that you can't replace the memory, at least not easily. The SoDIMM is buried down low on the main board and would require removing the board from the case to get at it. Strangely enough, there is a flap cut in the plastic board circuit-side protector to access the RAM. But the SoDIMM is on the opposite side of the board, safely out of upgradable reach. I didn't open up the N4200PRO, so don't know whether you can reach the RAM on it.




Related Items:

Thecus N4200PRO Reviewed
Thecus Adds N4200 Models
Thecus N5550 NAS Server Reviewed
Thecus Launches Eco-Friendly Quad-Bay NAS
QNAP TS-269 Pro NAS Reviewed

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