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View Full Version : Thecus N4100PRO - My Review


AV_Integrated
18-08-11, 18:22
Upfront: I'm not a computer guy. I get the basics, but I'm not interested in knowing the ten billion subtleties of running a PC. I've heard more than a few people talk about setting up home servers and configuring multiple raids and about a million other things that I don't understand. All, and I mean ALL, that I want is a place to put my media collection in a manner that can be easily accessed and provides reliability of the data. Being human, I want to do it for the lowest price possbile. So, I was looking for a decent RAID5 capable unit. Since I'm likely giong to get another Dune (or similar) it made sense to go to a NAS RAID of some sort.

After crashing and burning with a Raidon stand alone RAID - perhaps the worst documented/supported product I've ever seen, I decided to take a chance on the Thecus N4100PRO from Newegg.

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16822102026

For $360 for the unit, it's a fair bit less expensive than other 4 disc RAID units I've looked at. As well, I went for the recommended RAM upgrade which is said to significantly enhance speed.

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16820145562

So, about $400 total plus the price of four Samsung F4 2TB drives.

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16822152245

Call it $720 for everything.

The unit was well packed and came with the standard stuff. Power cord, ethernet cable, a quick start guide, and three (!) CDs including a setup CD which basically was the same as the quick start guide, and had the user manual on it.

Since this is a gigabit RAID, it allows for a built in web interface (unlike the RAIDON I had tried).

To put it simply, this piece of gear is amazing.

I put in the four 2TB drives and let it boot up. I showed one of the drives as having an issue, and when I went into the web interface, it didn't show the drive. I pulled that drive out and swapped it into another slot, and the issue tracked with that drive. Likewise, I heard a bit of a grinding clicking sound when that drive started spinning. Guess it was a DOA hard drive. The 'DISC STATUS' section of the web interface let me know that it couldn't read the drive and which slot the drive was in which was having an error.

Alright, so I need a new hard drive. Back to Newegg to order that, but while I'm waiting a few days for that to show up, what will the Thecus do with only three available drives?

Answer: Pretty much everything!

After the disaster with the Raidon, I wasn't expecting much from the manual here, but I opened up what turned out to be a 100+ page PDF user manual that is very well written. Not perfect, but very good. It basically covers everything in the web interface along with getting to that web interface. Things are broken into a lot of chapters, and each chapter covers a fair number of details.

Since I am wanting to keep this all basic, I just wanted to see how to setup a RAID5. So, I checked the table of contents, and a few minutes later I was reading the pages on setting up a RAID. I went into the web interface where instructed and clicked the 'NEW RAID' button. It showed me the available drives - three of them as expected. I clicked the box to use all three drives, and it gave me the possible RAID options I could use. I chose RAID5. Since there was no data on the drives, and I didn't care abut partitions, etc., I told it to do a 'quick format'. It took about 20-30 minutes or so to run through the process and setup the RAID.

Perfect! Just what I wanted.

I couldn't figure out how to get to the RAID from my Windows PC, but then I realized I needed to setup a share. Back to the User Manual and the web interface, and within just a few minutes I had setup a share, no problem at all!

I dumped a movie onto it and it seemed like it was kind of slow to copy over. It was really no faster/slower than I've experienced anywhere else on my network, so I could have my own network headaches, but it maintained about 10MBs download. I have not played with upload yet to my laptop. Heck, my laptop may only be a 10/100 for that matter, so 10MBs upload may be near maximum.

Anyway, the new 2TB hard drive showed up and I put it in yesterday. Only took a few minutes (four screws easy) and I slid it into the hot swap tray. The Thecus spun the drive up, no noise (YAY!) and recognized the drive immediately.

I likely could have figured a way to add the drive to the existing RAID, but I just wanted to set it up from scratch. I deleted the old RAID, and created a new RAID with all four drives this time. 5.17TB of available storage space was the post formatted amount. Perhaps a bit less than I expected, but perfectly reasonable. Once again, I'm not sure how long it took, but an hour maybe to do a quick RAID format. I went off to do other stuff while it was formatting. So, not really that long.

I dumped five Blu-ray ISO rips onto the drive. These are full version one to one copies of original BD movies from my collection. They are, most likely, the highest data rate items which will ever be put onto this RAID and absolutely was the most important test.

Once again, about 10MBs to load.

A bit of setup, and headaches, with Zappiti to have it set the path correctly and find the movies, but eventually I had it all worked out. First movie, and test up: Rango.

Not a hiccup or flaw in playback whatsoever.

This is what it all comes down to folks...

Easy setup, good price, guarded data, great manual, quiet product, excellent user interface.

I haven't had it long enough to understand long term reliability, but my initial impression is that I will use this product again. In fact, since I want all my movies to sit on a RAID of some sort, I'm very likely to buy two more of these units. I have a fairly extensive Blu-ray library and will need 10TB of available storage almost immediately to move all that data off my non-RAID storage devices.

As well, I may just end up getting a unit for our household storage needs of family photos, movies, and paperwork.

My highest regards to the people at Thecus for this product. It certainly delivers exactly what I needed from them in a RAID product.

AV_Integrated
18-11-11, 20:02
Just a follow up post three months down the road for usage of this unit.

I've had great luck using this product reliably on my system and have moved forward and bought two additional N4100PRO units to expand my storage capacities into.

It totals a bit over 16TB of storage available, of which I have about 3TB of storage left. I will likely pick up another unit or two in the next year. I will post back in the next few months with follow up information on reliability, performance, and my opinion of the product.