Best value

Thecus N5810 Review

N5810 front

We were impressed with Thecus’ N5810Pro Zero-Crash when we reviewed it as this speedy 5-bay desktop box uniquely offers built-in power protection with an integral mini-UPS. However, for those that don’t want this feature and would also like to save nearly $150, Thecus offers them the new N5810.

In this review we put it through its paces in the lab and also bring you a sneak preview of the new ThecusOS 7 firmware. Currently in beta, it delivers a range of new features and the improved user interface we’ve been demanding for a long time.

The appliance employs the same solidly built chassis with five hot-swap and lockable drive bays. A peek round the back shows that the mini-UPS slot is blanked off and the Gigabit port count has been dropped from five to two.

The N5810 has the same speedy quad-core 2GHz Celeron J1900 CPU and 4GB of DDR3 memory. This can be expanded to 8GB but we recommend getting your supplier to do this before buying as the chassis cover is tricky to remove and replace.

N5810 back

Installation and snapshots

With Thecus’ Setup Wizard on the case, initial installation didn’t take long as it discovered the appliance and provided quick access to its web interface. This offers a storage wizard which helped us create a RAID5 array from our quartet of 4TB WD Red NAS Pro drives.

The wizard defaults to using BTRFS which brings snapshots into play. These are easy to use and we quickly created manual and scheduled snapshots of selected shared folders. We restored entire shares directly from the web console and presented snapshots as network shares to authenticated users for swift drag and drop file restores.

IP SAN LUN snapshots are just as easy to use. However, they can only be restored in their entirety from the web console as there is no option to browse their contents and restore files contained within.

Good performance

Previous experience with other appliances equipped with the J1900 Celeron show it’s capable of delivering good performance and the N5810 didn’t disappoint. With a share mapped to an HP ProLiant DL380 Gen9 rack server running Windows Server 2012 R2, Iometer reported fast raw read and write speeds of 113MB/sec and 107MB/sec.

The new App Center streamlines installation but business apps are still in short supply

The new App Center streamlines installation but business apps are still in short supply

This translated to good real world speeds with copies of a 25GB test file returning sustained read and write speeds of 111MB/sec and 106MB/sec. It was no slouch in our backup test either with a 22.4GB folder containing 10,500 small files secured at an average of 85MB/sec.

To test maximum performance, we connected another Windows server system to the appliance’s second network port and gave it a dedicated share. With Iometer running on both servers, we recorded cumulative read and write speeds of 224MB/sec and 192MB/sec.

It was the same story for IP SANs with Iometer recording raw read and write speeds for a 600GB target of 113MB/sec and 98MB/sec. We increased the pressure with a dual Gigabit MPIO link and watched Iometer ramp up to 226MB/sec and 173MB/sec for the same target.

Backup features

Image-based workstation backup is handled by the bundled 5-user copy of Acronis True Image Personal but this software is now six years old – and looks it. Features such as incremental backups, job scheduling and disk cloning are also only available with a paid-for upgrade.

On-appliance data protection features are good as the Data Guard app supports real-time and scheduled backups to local storage, external USB devices and remote NAS appliances. It supports iSCSI backups to remote targets and it can also run scheduled backup jobs to an Amazon S3 cloud storage account.

Support for cloud file syncing services is basic as Thecus only has apps for ElephantDrive and Dropbox. We had no problems linking the Dropbox app to multiple accounts but look towards Qnap or Synology if you want support for services such as Google Drive, Box or OneDrive.

The ThecusOS 7 beta offers a much nicer interface and better access to storage features

The ThecusOS 7 beta offers a much nicer interface and better access to storage features

Thecus OS 7 beta tests

Upgrading the N5810 with the Thecus OS 7 firmware took around 10 minutes and on rebooting the appliance, we were greeted by its freshly designed user interface. It looks a lot more modern and is much easier on the eye than its predecessor.

Desktop shortcut icons are provided for quick access to disk and RAID operations, user accounts, file services and views of shared folders. The menu strip across the top currently has icons for accessing the control panel and app store but neither this nor the desktop space can be customized at the moment.

The current ThecusOS 5 web interface is looking dated but is easy enough to use

The current ThecusOS 5 web interface is looking dated but is easy enough to use

The app store provides a tidy view of all available apps although these are still in short supply when compared to those from Qnap and Synology. Furthermore, our Dropbox app configured prior to the upgrade no longer worked, the new Google Drive app is just as difficult to configure as the previous version and the Data Burn feature is no longer supported.

This beta firmware shows Thecus is going in the right direction but there are too many features missing to make it a worthy upgrade at present. If you have a spare Thecus NAS appliance then use that for testing but we do not recommend upgrading one that’s being used in a live environment.

PROS:
  • Very good value
  • Fast performance
  • Quiet
  • ThecusOS 7 shows promise

CONS:
  • Modest feature set
  • Chassis design complicates memory upgrades

Summary

Thecus loses points for features as it isn’t as well-endowed as similar appliances from Qnap and Synology. The Thecus OS 7 beta firmware shows a lot of promise but it’s not ready for production environments and Thecus need to get serious about app development as its current selection is too amateurish.

However, as a simple solution for high-speed network storage and backup the N5810 scores well. It’s good value too, with a diskless unit costing around $60 less than Synology’s Value Series DS1515 and $90 less than Qnap’s 5-bay TS-563.

6.5 Total Score
Value Over Function

Thecus loses points for features as it isn’t as well-endowed as similar appliances from Qnap and Synology. The ThecusOS 7 beta firmware shows a lot of promise but it’s not ready for production environments and Thecus need to get serious about app development as its current selection is too amateurish. However, as a simple solution for high-speed network storage and backup the N5810 scores well. It’s good value too, with a diskless unit costing around $60 less than Synology’s Value Series DS1515 and $90 less than Qnap’s 5-bay TS-563.

Features
9
Features
6
Build Quality
8
Usability
7.5
Value
9
User Rating: 3.45 (1 votes)