You can be forgiven for never having heard of the company Thecus before, we hadn’t until this group test. However, this is a company that has spent the last ten years or so in research and designing the best possible storage solutions for both the home and business user alike. They should be pretty good, then.
Inside the Thecus N4100EVO you’ll find a dualcore Cavium CNS3420 ARM11 CPU, running at 600MHZ and supported with 256MB of DDR2 RAM. In addition to that, there are a pair of gigabit Ehternet ports, two USB 2.0 ports – one on the front, the other on the rear of the drive – and an LED strip along the bottom front of the drive that indicates various system messages along with the system model number and current IP address.
Accessing the drives if done through a removable window at the front, with the drives being placed horizontally. It’s a tool-free design, much like the other NAS units we’ve already tested, but in this instance you have to really push the drive cradle back until it makes a rather uncomfortable crunch to get it home and attached.
Setting up the drives, once they’re fitted, is easy enough through the configuration manager accessible via a browser. Granted, it’s nowhere near as intuitive as QTS or DSM from QNAP and Synology. In fact, it’s quite reminiscent of an early Netgear router setup, but as long as you know what to look for and you know what you’re doing, it’s easy enough.
The services and features on offer are the basic NAS fare: DLNA media server, backup and syncing software, surveillance software and the usual file and folder sharing. Additionally, you’ll find a copy of Acronis True Image and a RAID accelerator app, which uses a dedicated RAID chip to speed up the process of RAID array building and ongoing performance.
We weren’t overly convinced of the RAID performance accelerator, since it took nearly two hours to format and RAID the four 4TB drives we had installed. And then we were equally surprised to see that no matter what we did with the drives took an absolute age. Copying a 2GB file was clocked at just 3MB/s, accessing any of the shares took nearly a minute for each folder and roughly half that time for any subfolders, and watching a HD movie was a waste of time due to stuttering, screen tearing and constant buffering.
The worst aspect, though, was the amount of noise being dished out by the unit.
It would probably have been quieter to lay the drives out bare on the desk than have them sat in the chassis. There was even some vibration from the covering of the unit over the internal framework.
In the end, we had to give up on the Thecus N4100EVO. Despite the large capacity drives available (you can also buy a driveless unit), the NAS drive itself wasn’t really capable of competing next to the other units we’ve already tested, never mind the Synology and QNAP entries.
Price: £578.99 (with four 4TB drives installed) Manufacturer Thecus
• Website: goo.gl/gLcOvH
• Required spec
Up to four SATA-2 drives, gigabit network for best results, any modem web browser