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At a Glance
Product Thecus Ultra-high Performance 1U Storage Server (1U4500)
Summary More powerful, four bay rackmount version of N5200 BYOD NAS with RAID 0, 1, 5, 6, 10 and JBOD support.
Pros • High performance
• Hot-swappable drives
• NFS, AFP support
• eSATA port
• Hot-swap redundant power supply version available
Cons • Very Noisy - server room only
• Documentation lacking in key areas
• Web interface still needs work

Take a Thecus N5200, drop one drive, double the processor speed and memory and put it into rackmount form and you have the 1U4500. Actually, Thecus' entry into the realm of rackmount servers has a few more tricks up its sleeve, but the description above captures its essence.

As its name implies, the 4500 is one rackmount unit (1.75" / 44mm) high and comes with rackmount ears for bolting right into a 19" rack. It's about 22" deep, so you might need to support it with a rack shelf, which is not provided.

Given the constraints of the 19" form factor, Thecus could include only four drives in the 4500 instead of the five in the desktop N5200. But with a little ingenuity, it managed to keep the N5200's LCD display by encasing it in a thin aluminum case that swings up out of the way, should you need to replace the hard drive behind it.

1U4500 Front panel
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Figure 1: 1U4500 Front panel

The buttons that go along with the display, plus other indicators are integrated into the thin strip above the drives as shown in Figure 1. You'll also find Power and Reset buttons and a single USB 2.0 port there. Each drive is mounted on a metal tray that includes a key lock.

Thecus has improved the design of the trays over the N5200's and I found them much more robust. I liked having the front panel power button, but didn't like that it required only a momentary press to initiate shutdown.

The rear panel shot in Figure 2 is for the 1U4500S version which Thecus provided for review. There's also a 1U4500R model with a second, redundant, hot-swappable 250W power supply. This is a nicer design choice than the redundant power unit required by Linksys' NSS series, which costs around $800 and requires another 1U rackmount space.

1U4500 Rear panel
Click to enlarge image

Figure 2: DS207 Inside view

The rear panel connector complement is similar to the N5200's, but not identical. Like the N5200, two USB 2.0 and a single eSATA port are provided for drive expansion. But you need to format any external drives first on another system using FAT32 or NTFS. FAT32 formatted drives will have read/write permission but NTFS drives will be read only.

The USB ports can also be used to attach a printer for the internal IPP print server. Also like the N5200, the 4500 can be used as an external Windows USB drive via its "Target USB" feature and USB "B" type port.

Unlike the N5200, the 4500's serial port can be pressed into service to connect to a UPS to initiate shutdown in the event of line power failure. And where the N5200 had a 4 port switch as its "LAN" port(s), there is only a single 10/100/1000 LAN port in the 4500 in addition to the gigabit "WAN" port.

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