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NAS Server
At a glance
ProductThecus NAS Server (N7710-G)   [Website]
SummaryIntel Pentium G850 seven-bay BYOD NAS with USB 3.0, HDMI and 10 GbE ports, supporting multiple volumes and filesystems with many serving options.
Pros• Standard 10GbE port
• Aggressively priced, especially for 10GbE NAS
Cons• Runs older Thecus OS 5
• Firmware still has quirks

Typical Price: $1053  Buy From Amazon

Overview

Updated 5/7/14: Missing component information added

A glance at the NAS Charts shows well over a dozen products with throughput greater than the 125 MB/s possible from a Gigabit LAN connection (due to write cache effects). So it's clear that there are products in need of a 10 Gigabit Ethernet (10GbE) port to allow users to get the most out of them. (Aggregated dual and quad Gigabit Ethernet ports help access higher throughput, but only for multiple-client access.)

Until recently, the cost of 10GbE NICs and switches and their reliance on SFP and Direct Attached Twin Axial Cabling have made 10GbE a pricey option for the few NASes that supported 10GbE. But Intel's $350 X540-T1 NIC that connects to standard RJ45 / CAT6 cabling has brought 10GbE within the reach of small businesses and prosumers that just have to have the highest performance possible from their networked storage.

At around $1300, Thecus' N7710-G is aimed directly at scratching that higher-throughput itch without driving buyers into the poorhouse. It sports a built-in 10GbE port nestled into its single PCI-e slot, plus two aggregatable 1 Gigabit Ethernet ports. It's also available sans the 10GbE port as the N7710.

The N7710-G effectively replaces the TopTower N6850 [reviewed] that is currently the entry-level NAS in Thecus' "Large Business-Tower" line, even though the N7710-G is positioned as the top end of Thecus' "SMB-Tower" group. To save cost, the N7710-G swaps the TopTowers' touch-sensitive glass panel for the old-school LCD and button interface found on the other "SMB-Tower" models like the N7700PRO v2 and N7510 [reviewed].

Thecus' seven-bay chassis hasn't changed since we first saw it in the N7700. The front door still has is secured with a push-push latch and no lock. And each of the drives sits in a lockable tray that has light pipes to carry power and activity / error lights forward from the drive backplane. It seems like the drive lights are now better positioned behind the front cover holes, but it could be my imagination...

N7710-G Front panel callouts
N7710-G Front panel callouts

The rear panel view below shows four more USB 2.0 ports for a total of six and there are two USB 3.0 ports, dual aggregatable Gigabit Ethernet ports and both HDMI and VGA ports for monitor attachment. The blank slot at the top of the photo below should show the single RJ45 10GbE port provided by Thecus' C10GT PCIe card. The NIC compatibility list shows other 10GbE NICs from Emulex and Intel that alternatively could be user-installed.

N7710-G rear panel callouts
N7710-G Rear panel callouts

I used four WD Re 3 TB drives provided by WD (WD3000FYYZ-0) for testing. They brought total power consumption with all drives spun up to 76 W. The drives all spun down after the 30 minute idle time so that I could measure 43 W in that mode.

The N7710-G is relatively quiet, considering its power draw. I rated its noise level as medium, coming mostly from the system fan. With all seven drives loaded, I imagine it could move up to medium high.

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