Thecus N5200 PRO - great or GREAT?
Author: Vedran Dakic
Date: 04 Oct 2007
For the past two months, I had the pleasure of playing around with one of Thecus's latest models - N5200 PRO.
With the latest addon that I was really missing in the past - iSCSI Thecus's stock market value just went up in my
eyes by a large margin. Bare with me on this and check out the review...
Let's go through all of the basic features of this compact device. You can have multiple RAID arrays (RAID 0, 1, 5) and device setup and configuration is done through a superbly-simple web menu. For example, you can create RAID 0 and RAID 5 array with no problems whatsoever. This device has five drive bays which is absolutely necessary to do the RAID 0 + RAID 5 configuration - RAID 0 needs at least two drives and RAID 5 three.
N5200 PRO has ULV (Ultra Low Voltage) Intel Celeron M CPU and 512MB of DDR memory as a hardware base. It also supports WOL (Wake-on-Lan), remote backup (supplied Nsync software) and two very important things - Failover and Load Balancing. The device I had was equipped with two Gigabit Ethernet ports (model N5200B PRO), but you can also get a 1+4 Gigabit Ethernet configured device (model N5200BR PRO). It sounds pretty much impossible to ran out with Gigabit Ethernet ports and/or security features on that one. Before I move on, I'd just like to add that I tried the Failover feature and all I can say that it works flawlessly. Both of these features will kill the speed you're working with by roughly 40%, but security at all cost - costs.
For the purposes of doing some serious testing with this device, I got five 500GB WD drives and installed them inside so I can do all sorts of whacky things - 0/5 configuration, multiple RAID 0 configuration, multiple RAID 1 configuration - which I left as a default thing I'm using now. Installing a hard drive in this device is as easy as 1-2-3 - just put them inside, take a couple of screws, slide the drive in, hook it up and close the keylock. Drive bays look pretty slick and in line with the whole shiny design and I've gotta say this is one really nice looking piece of hardware to have. Especially with the whole green-meets-blue/violet-meets-black-meets-blue colour scheme N5200PRO has going on. On the rear, you have E-SATA and two plus one USB connectors for storage (flash memory) or printers. Pretty cool.
First process you have to go through is hard drive/RAID configuration and drive formatting. Now this is one very long process if you have large hard drives so better sharpen your patience bit. Just to give you a short approximation, it took me a couple of hours to format all of the drives.