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NAS Reviews

Linux NAS | Soho/Home
At a glance
ProductThecus Linux NAS | Soho/Home (N4310)   [Website]
SummaryLow-cost four-bay RAID 5 NAS based on AMCC single core PowerPC based SoC
Pros• High performance for relatively little $
• Quiet
• USB 3.0 ports
Cons• Slow attached backup
• Slow admin GUI

Typical Price: $207  Buy From Amazon

Introduction

You might know Thecus as a maker of very fast and expensive NASes. But last year, Thecus broke out of that mold with its entry-level two-bay N2310. Based on an AMCC single core Power PC-based SoC, it offered excellent performance and remains as the least expensive dual-bay BYOD NAS in our NAS Charts.

This review will focus on Thecus' four-bay version of the N2310, the N4310. Like its sibling, the N4310 offers good value and is the least expensive four-bay NAS we have seen. There are some differences between the two models, however.

Other than the increased number of bays and the additional RAID levels supported, the N4310 supports iSCSI targets (up to 15) and initiator, Wake on LAN, TFTP server and ADS (Active Directory Service). The N4310 also has a faster processor and more RAM than the 2310, as you'll see shortly.

The image below shows the front and rear panel callouts. On the front panel, there's a Power LED (top), a System status LED (below the power LED), four disk activity/failure LEDS as well as an LED to indicate LAN link/activity and an LED to show USB file copy status. Below the status indicators is a USB copy button and the power switch.

Thecus N4310 Callouts

Thecus N4310 Callouts

On the rear panel, you'll find two USB 3.0 ports (the N2310 had one USB 2.0 and one USB 3.0), Gigabit Ethernet port, reset button and two power supply jacks. It's interesting to find an entry-level NAS with support for power redundancy. However, the product page indicates that you can connect a second power supply to the second jack. If the primary power supply should fail, the NAS will stay up.

Inside

The N4310 uses an AMCC APM86491-RKB1000T SoC running at 1 GHz. The N2310 uses an 800 MHz version of the same SoC.

The image below shows the main PCB for the N4310. The processor is located just to the right of center. On the left side of the board you'll see the connectors for the rear panel along with the drive bay backplane connector.

Thecus N4310 main PCB

Thecus N4310 main PCB

The N4310's key components are summarized in Table 1 along with a comparison to the Thecus 2310 and the next two most expensive four-bay NASes in the NAS Charts. While there are a number of less expensive four-bay NASes than the ASUSTOR NASes shown, we filtered the search to show only products tested with the current process.

  Thecus N2310 Thecus N4310 ASUSTOR
AS-304T
ASUSTOR AS-204TE
Price $80 $261 $423 $430
CPU Applied Micro APM86491 @ 800Mhz AMCC APM86491-RKB1000T 1GHz SoC Intel Atom CE5335 @ 1.6 GHz Intel Atom CE5310 @ 1.2 GHz
RAM 512 MB DDR3 1 GB DDR3 Sk Hynix H5TQ4G43AFR (x2) 1 GB DDR3 on board 1 GB DDR3 on board
Flash ? 1 GB Spansion S34ML08G101TFI000 16 MB Spansion FL128SAIF00 16 MB Spansion FL128SAIF00
Ethernet in APM86491 Atheros AR8035-A Realtek RTL8211E Realtek RTL8211E
USB 3.0 in APM86491 in APM86491 Etron Tech EJ188H Etron Tech EJ188H
SATA None JMicron JMB320 SATA II 3.0 Gbps port multiplier Asmedia ASM1061 PCI Express to two ports of Serial ATA Asmedia ASM1061 PCI Express to two ports of Serial ATA
Table 1: Key component summary and comparison

We tested using our standard four WD Red 3 TB (WD30EFRX) drives loaned by WD. Power consumption was measured at 27 W in active mode and 11 W in power save mode. Fan and drive noise was rated low. This is a very quiet NAS, especially considering it's a four-bay.

Features

The 4310 runs ThecusOS 6. I wrote an in-depth review of OS6 when it was released a year ago, so won't repeat feature details here. To give you a feel for the user interface, the image below shows the first page of the control panel. The other two screens in the control panel show the identical icons as shown in the N2310 review. If you'd like to explore the user interface on your own, Thecus has a Live Demo.

Thecus N4310 Control Panel (first screen)

Thecus N4310 Control Panel (first screen)

Like virtually all of the NASes on the market with modern NAS operating systems, you can add features to the N4310 by installing additional applications. The control panel has an icon for "Official NAS Application". The screenshot below shows the Official NAS Applications for the N4310. The System Files entry is how you upgrade the OS firmware.

Thecus N4310 Official NAS Applications

Thecus N4310 Official NAS Applications

In addition, there are about 65 third-party apps that will run on the N4310, detailed in the gallery below.

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