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Thecus N5200: Screaming fast, but plenty rough around the edges

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November 7, 2006 6:08:27 PM

Thecus has produced a business-focused NAS with advanced RAID features and high performance. But Tim Higgins found more of a diamond in the rough than a polished gem.
November 7, 2006 9:46:20 PM

"Unfortunately, while the performance of the 5200 established a number of new highs on our NAS charts, its feature set and firmware maturity may disappoint Thecus fans who have been chomping at the bit to get their hands on one. "

Reminds me of ATI. Hopefully both get their softwares figured out soon. Having screaming hardware really sucks when the software that supports it doesn't work right. All in all, a cool piece of hardware though, I'll admit.
November 7, 2006 10:28:39 PM

A RAID0 should be able to saturate a 1Gbps link. (Especially if using more then 2 disks.)
Thats 125MB/sec. This thing barely reaches 80MB/sec. (Best case scenario I might add)
Ofcourse it does well compared to other NAS boxes but do you dare to compare it to a full-blown file server?

If you need to store more then 1TB your growing out of these kinds of products and need to look at building your own file server.
Ofcourse it costs more and you need some time setting it up. But it will be worth it.
November 8, 2006 12:21:21 AM

First off, thanks for the good review.


Ive been looking at solutions like this for about 4months. Im very torn between buying one of these solutions or just upgrading my current setup. I love the small footnote on these devices and this N5200 has an amazing feature set. As far as the price is concerned when you compare this little magic box to other solutions youre not paying all that much and you get a lot more. The firmware is a bit of a pain i suppose, but im sure firmware upgrades will be relased in the future that will remedy a lot of the issues. Another thing that troubles me with these boxes is the fact a lot of the times the hardware is proprietary. With this particular one though not as much. My current setup is simply a 2.4ghz/512 with a promise raid controller and a 3 drive setup in RAID5. Im quickly outgrowing and i dont know if i should just upgrade the drives on my current setup or go for one of these solutions. If anything goes wrong with my current setup i can just go to frys and replace whatever goes back which helps me sleep at night :D . Ive though a lot about this and im still undecided.
November 8, 2006 7:38:39 AM

I ve a Thecus nas and I can say that Thecus often update (about every 3 month) their firmware to add new fonctionnalities and correct their previous issues.

Unofficial Thecus forum.
November 9, 2006 2:27:09 AM

I bought the N5200B with the Roustore. In addition to the problems pointed out in the article, I've also experienced the following.
1. Thecus has not replied to any of my emails in three weeks.
2. I have been unable to communicate with the N5200 via the Roustore. My machine will get an IP when I leave DHCP turned on, but I can't ping the N5200, I can't pass any packets to the wan interface. I can't bring up the N5200 web interface via the Roustore ports. It seems to work perfectly from the wan port.
3. Configuring the lan ports requires me to put them on a different lan segment than the wan port. For me WAN=192.168.2.10 and LAN=192.168.3.1
4. I have only once gotten USB copy to work. 4 different cameras and only one of them worked once.
5. I don't seem to be able to utilize much of my 1GB bandwidth. Windows task manager only shows about 20% utilization. Perhaps my systems just can't keep up?
6. The Jumbo frames don't match up with the jumbo frame settings of my NICs. Somethingis wierd here. The N5200 has fames of 4000, 8000, 12000, and 16000 where as my NICs have 1500, 2500, 4500, and 9000.

Updated 11-9-06 I forgot a couple things.
7. The UPNP setting caused all my networked machines to suddenly start announcing every 2 seconds (not an exaggeration) the presence and removal of a new UPNP device. I had to disable it because of the annoyance factor.
8. Something is weird about staring a folder name with a period. I copied my music collection to the NAS. One of my artists is ".38 Special" I noticed that the folder was marked as hidden and read only. I tried to clear the attributes, but they won't clear. I attempted to creat a new directory called ".38 Special" I get an error message that I must enter a name.

However I can testify to that my Canon iP4000 works fine from the USB printer port.
November 9, 2006 11:17:28 AM

Quote:
I bought the N5200B with the Roustore. In addition to the problems pointed out in the article, I've also experienced the following....


If you are connecting to the LAN ports, you must have IP sharing enabled. Then the 5200 acts as a simple NAT router, but with no port forwarding or filtering features. You're correct that you'll be on a different subnet, which limits the usefulness of the feature. I was not able to find any way to just bridge the LAN ports so that you could have a 5 port switch.

My experience is that each vendor uses slightly different numbers for the length of their jumbo frames. I just pick the numbers that are closest on both my NIC and product under test and I'm usually ok.
November 9, 2006 1:42:04 PM

Why is it that most of these things try to do NAT or something else they shouldn't do in the first place?
Do the guys who designed this thing really think that the average person who buys this sort of product doesn't already have a router and network in place?

The word "bloat" comes to mind here.
November 9, 2006 1:45:29 PM

Quote:
Why is it that most of these things try to do NAT or something else they shouldn't do in the first place?
Do the guys who designed this thing really think that the average person who buys this sort of product doesn't already have a router and network in place?

The word "bloat" comes to mind here.

I agree. I have no idea why they included the feature.
November 9, 2006 7:15:41 PM

I used THG's reviews to make my descision regarding a NAS unit.
I bought the Infrant Ready NAS NV. While the Thecus may be faster on the throughput, I am very happy with the Ready NAS NV.

(No I do not work for nor am I paid by Infrant :)  ) The one thing I keep hearing consistantly thoug is how noisy the ReadyNAS unit is...

I have this unit sitting about 8 feet away and a bit above me...the noice from my Tower PC's is far louder than the ReadyNAS and when I shut down the PC's I still really can't hear anything coming from the NAS unit....I have 4x500gig drives in the NAS all 7200 RPM drives.....Did Infrant imporve their Noise damping or something?
November 9, 2006 7:54:05 PM

Quote:
I have this unit sitting about 8 feet away and a bit above me...the noice from my Tower PC's is far louder than the ReadyNAS and when I shut down the PC's I still really can't hear anything coming from the NAS unit....I have 4x500gig drives in the NAS all 7200 RPM drives.....Did Infrant imporve their Noise damping or something?

Infrant has made improvements to reduce noise along the way.
http://infrant.com/support/faq_content.php?id=23
November 10, 2006 12:26:51 AM

I tried every combination of Jumbo frames between and PCs and the NAS but none would communicate. I did figure out that while I lost communicatons between the NAS and one of my GigaBit machines, I could go to any of my 100MB machines, log into the NAS and reset it's Jumbo frame back to default and I could regain communications with it without having to reset it via he procedure in the manual.
November 10, 2006 12:31:00 AM

The only reason I bought he Roustore was I wanted to use the extra GigaBit ports as a router. Now I can't. It won't route and I can't even talk to the NAS through the 4 extra ports. I've tuned on and off IP forwarding many times. I can't communicate through nor to the NAS via those 4 ports.
November 10, 2006 10:37:32 AM

Quote:
I tried every combination of Jumbo frames between and PCs and the NAS but none would communicate. I did figure out that while I lost communicatons between the NAS and one of my GigaBit machines, I could go to any of my 100MB machines, log into the NAS and reset it's Jumbo frame back to default and I could regain communications with it without having to reset it via he procedure in the manual.

Not clear which port you're connected to. But as stated in the article, jumbo frames work only on the WAN port.
November 10, 2006 1:20:05 PM

Thanks, but I can't communicate with the NAS through any port except the WAN port. When I connect to the lan ports, I get an IP from the DHCP host in the NAS, but I can't ping the NAS on either it's WAN or LAN ports. I can't ping anything beyond the NAS. I can't open the NAS login page via a web browser.
November 10, 2006 1:48:02 PM

Quote:
Thanks, but I can't communicate with the NAS through any port except the WAN port. When I connect to the lan ports, I get an IP from the DHCP host in the NAS, but I can't ping the NAS on either it's WAN or LAN ports. I can't ping anything beyond the NAS. I can't open the NAS login page via a web browser.

Have you enabled IP sharing mode in the WAN menu?
November 10, 2006 3:11:58 PM

Yes. It doesn't seem to work.
November 22, 2006 11:26:16 PM

I've updated my N5200B with the new firmware 1.00.04 and I thought that I'd update my review.

1. Thecus has not replied to any of my emails in four weeks.
2. I may have learned more about the LAN vs WAN ports. Via the LAN ports I can open the interface via a web browser, but I can't open the NAS via \\IP. I can't open it via either the WAN or LAN IP. From the WAN port everything works correctly. Additionally I can not open any of my network shares on the other side of the WAN port when connected the the LAN port.
3. Configuring the lan ports requires me to put them on a different lan segment than the wan port. For me WAN=192.168.2.10 and LAN=192.168.3.1
4. I've probably made 10 more attempts to use the USB copy on three different cameras. It's work exactly once. It was a different camera than the last go around.
5. UPNP seems to have settled down.
6. Something is weird about staring a folder name with a period. I copied my music collection to the NAS. One of my artists is ".38 Special" I noticed that the folder was marked as hidden and read only. I tried to clear the attributes, but they won't clear. I attempted to creat a new directory called ".38 Special" I get an error message that I must enter a name. I finally added a hyphen to the begining to allow me to edit the folder.
January 3, 2007 5:02:05 PM

Quote:
6. Something is weird about staring a folder name with a period. I copied my music collection to the NAS. One of my artists is ".38 Special" I noticed that the folder was marked as hidden and read only. I tried to clear the attributes, but they won't clear. I attempted to creat a new directory called ".38 Special" I get an error message that I must enter a name. I finally added a hyphen to the begining to allow me to edit the folder.


This is because linux treats files with a period in front of them as hidden. I doubt you can get round this limitation.
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