A serious NAS for power networkers.
This NAS is aimed at small to medium businesses of up to 50 users, which means it’s overkill unless you’re living with a collection of avid file sharers. This is reflected in both the fact that it supports Windows Storage Server 2012 R2 Essentials, not to mention that rather high price. It’s a little odd to release this just before Microsoft releases Windows Storage Server 2016, and Thecus has told us that there will not be a later upgrade for existing owners.
Despite the lower number, this is actually an upgrade to the Thecus 5810 that was released in early 2016. New to the latest model is Intel’s Celeron N3160 CPU. This quad-cored chip consumes has a tiny 6W TDP, even though it has a burst frequency of 2.24GHz, yet it will likely spend most of its time at the base frequency of 1.6GHz. This has been paired with 4GB of DDR3 memory, and like the earlier W5810 also has an embedded SSD drive. It’s 60GB in size, and works as a cache to speed up file access to regularly used files, similar to the way hybrid mechanical/SSD drives work. Note that 32GB of this is already used up by the Windows Storage Server 2012 operating system.
This is a four port NAS, and each bay is easily accessible from the front. Maximum capacity is 40TB, more than enough for most mid-sized businesses. They can be locked via the four sets of included keys, making sure nobody nicks off with your valuable data, though they’re not exactly the most complicated of locks; we’ve seen them opened with a paper-clip in the past. It’s rather small considering the four ports, measuring 192 x 172 x 250 (mm), and is ensconced in a sturdy steel shell. The front façade is made from plastic however, and features a small LCD screen that displays the basics, such as the firmware version, operating modes and more. It’s easy to navigate thanks to the four buttons below. There’s also a single USB 3.0 port above the power button, along with six status LEDs showing which network connection or drive is currently in use.
Heading to the rear we find twin Gigabit Ethernet connections, two more USB 3.0 Type-A and a USB 3.0 Type C. However, it’s the DisplayPort, HDMI and optical output connections that will make this NAS noteworthy for media fiends. Not only does it mean typical network administrators can log directly into the machine, it can also double up as a media box under your TV. There’s no mention of what kind of HDMI or DisplayPorts they are, so we’re guessing it’ll be the standard HDMI 1.4 and DP1.2; besides, this processor just doesn’t have the grunt required to deliver 4K video smoothly. Intel’s Quick Sync Video should make encoding and decoding 1080p videos a relatively snappy affair, although the integrated Intel HD Graphics 400 GPU might struggle with too many simultaneous jobs.
Windows Storage Server 2012 mightn’t have the easiest interface around, but it does offer powerful features. Obviously there’s full cloud access, and some of the best backup and file duplication tools around at this price point (if you discount Windows Storage Server 2016, in the form of Microsoft Cloud, Office 365 and Microsoft Azure backup). The twin Ethernet ports can be teamed to double theoretical bandwidth. There’s also a handy app for smartphones that allows remote control while you’re out of the office or home, while the Launchpad application allows remote PCs access to the basics without compromising security features. Full print-server support is included via the USB ports, while Active Directory Domain Services allows multiple units to operate as a singular file server. Orbweb functionality means you can also set up a remote desktop view of files, media playback (up to 1080p) and even webcam monitoring.
This machine is definitely not suitable for network novices thanks to the complexities of Windows Storage Server 2012, and it’s overkill if you’re only connecting ten to twenty devices, which is about the average for today’s households. However, power users and small business owners will find that it delivers a feature-set that usually costs considerably more. Yet the lack of Windows Storage Server 2016 does seem like a very strange oversight.