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NAS Reviews

Introduction

Updated 7/30/2008: Corrected Web Camera information

Thecus N3200

At a Glance
Product Thecus RAID 5 Home NAS (N3200)
Summary Three bay multi Terabyte-capacity BYOD NAS with RAID 0, 1, 5, and JBOD support
Pros • Good performance
• Hot-swappable drives
• AFP and AD/NT domain support
Cons • Limited availability

Many RAID 5 NASes have made their way through the SmallNetBuilder test lab. But the N3200 is the first one to have three drives. I suppose that isn't surprising, given that Thecus is also the only manufacturer to have submitted a five-drive NAS.

The N3200 is Thecus' top-of-the-line SOHO offering and is positioned as a "Home NAS with RAID5 Protection". By contrast, its five-drive N5200 [reviewed] is positioned at the top of its "SMB/SME" line, while the N5200 PRO desktop [reviewed] and 1U4500 rackmount [reviewed] NASes make up its "Enterprise" lineup.

Marketing positioning aside, the 3200's feature set is very similar to its business-focused siblings and shares the same no-frills web-based admin interface. So I'll focus mainly on the differences, which are mostly in its multimedia features, and leave you to check out the other reviews and if you need more details on the 3200's basic functions.

The 3200's physical design is a bit more consumer friendly than the 5200/PRO's, although it has a bigger footprint than four-drive NASes such as the Netgear NV+ [reviewed]. Figures 1 and 2 provide a summary of the front and rear panels.

The three hot-swappable drives are hidden behind a front panel that easily lifts off. Drives are secured with tool-less brackets that slip into drive mounting holes and hold each drive securely in place via thumbscrews on each side. The front panel LCD display has been carried over from the 5200s. But I like the rocker-style navigation switches better than the 5200's push-button stubs that look like mini-toggles.

Front panel
Click to enlarge image

Figure 1: Front Panel

Things are a bit different on the rear panel (Figure 2). There is only one USB 2.0 port (for a total of two) and the Type B (squarish) USB port that allowed using the 5200 / PRO as a direct-attached USB drive has been dropped. But you can attach a USB wireless LAN adapter that uses the relatively uncommon ZyDAS ZD1211 or ZD1211B chipset to either of the Type A USB 2.0 ports. (The Zyxel ZyAIR G-220 V2 will probably be the easiest to find.)

Curiously, Thecus has kept the odd WAN/LAN Ethernet port arrangement, which is surprising, considering the product's home focus and the limited usefulness of the IP Sharing capability.

Rear panel
Click to enlarge image

Figure 2: Rear Panel

You'll note that the eSATA port has been kept, for those who like to expand storage that way. Hackers who are intrigued by the PCI slot will be disappointed, however, since the connector was not even loaded on my 3200's board. The large fan is a plus, since it can run quietly at a lower speed and still move the required air.

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