Promise’s updates to the NS4600 are very effective across the board.
Visually, the revised case design is better looking than that of the older NS4300N. Promise continues to use plastic as its material of choice, but it doesn't feel cheap, and overall build quality remains good. Even still, we found ourselves thinking that a metal case would have been more appropriate, improving the overall impression even further.
The addition of an eSATA port offers additional value. The same goes for the integration of download, media, and iTunes servers right out of the box. Users are no longer forced to go hunting around the Web to find compatible plug-ins, and then install them manually. Thanks to its integrated DLNA support, as well as the media and iTunes server, the NS4600 comes well-equipped for multimedia duties on the home network.
Small and mid-sized companies won’t care about the multimedia functionality as much. Instead, this group will focus on the device’s NAS replication capabilities, able to copy files to other NAS devices in the background. The snapshot backup feature will also be appreciated for providing several copies of current files as a sort of extended “undelete” feature.
Great data transfer rates with lots of small files, such as Word documents or photographs, suit NS4600 well for use in business environments. It is also quite speedy when backing up or restoring files over a network.
All of this is made possible by the NS4600’s fresh architecture. The EP80579, code named Tolapai, represents Intel’s first embedded processor since 1994. Developed specifically for use in telecommunication infrastructure, this processor also provides sufficient performance for NAS devices. With it, Promise’s N4600 operates in the same league as the Thecus N4100 Pro based on an AMD Geode processor.
It will be interesting to see whether other NAS vendors follow Promise’s lead and offer products built around Intel’s EP80579 rather than processors by Freescale, Marvell, and AMD.