Thecus N2310 Review
Can you think of a NAS worth buying that costs less than $150.00 USD? I bet you would have a hard time answering that question. I have reviewed a slew of NAS and can’t answer that question, until now. Thecus has done what many have considered as the impossible. They may have just set a new standard for affordability, slapped the Thecus badge on it, and dubbed it the N2310.
The N2310 is not going to set any LAN speed records, but it will introduce you to “a whole new world”. Sorry… bad Alladin reference there. Anyway. To get some quick information out-of-the-way. The N2310 is a two bay NAS that measures in at just 135 x 97 x 207 (mm) and just 1.8 lbs. This tiny little box supports hard drives up to 6TB in size and can support RAID 0, 1, and JBOD. The N2310 is powered by an 800MHz processor, sports 512MB of RAM, and consumes just about 5W of electricity.
The N2310 runs Thecus NAS OS6 and provides many of the features and functionality found in much more expensive options. Thecus NAS OS6 brings things like Web-based file access, FTP server, BitTorrent clients, Plex, Mobile Apps, Self RAID creation, and plenty of modules to extend features even further.
Fighting in the lightweight division, there are some features missing. First, this NAS does not feature an HDMI port for direct connection in your home theater. Second, don’t expect to get iSCSI support or dual Ethernet connections. Lastly, plastic… everywhere, no brushed aluminum or metal garnish.
Thecus, again departs from dull and drab in the N2310, but not too far. The NAS is seemingly Synology’esque in its outer skin. Up front, there isn’t much going on. You have a pair of quick release drive trays, LEDs for Power, Information, HDD1, HDD2, LAN, and USB connectivity. There is a Power button and a copy button for quick backup.
Around back you have a system cooling fan (ADDA), a single Gigabit Ethernet Port, USB 2.0 and 3.0 ports, a hard reset button, and DC power in.
Inside, the N2310 is just as simple as you would expect. The NAS is powered by an applied micro Catalina processor clocked at 800MHz and two Samsung K4B2G1646E-BCK0 DDR3 modules.
applied micro Catalina (APM86491-SKB90DT)
- Single-Core Power™465 processors with a floating-point unit
- CPU speed (frequency): 600 MHz to 1.0 GHz
- Performance: 2000 Dhrystone, 2.1 MIPS @ 1.0GHz
- 32 KB I/32 KB-D L1 caches and 256 KB L2 cache
- 16/32-bit DDR3 SDRAM controller with optional ECC, for up to 1066 Mbps operation
- Two Gen 2 PCI Express interfaces with x1 operations
- USB 3.0 – 1 Host with integrated PHY, 1 Host & Device with integrated PHY
- Two SATA ports
- Two Ethernet 10/100/1000 Mbps ports: 2x RGMII with Classification and TCP/IP offload.
- Four UART
- Symmetric and asymmetric security hardware acceleration engines – encryption, hash and more
- Supports AES, ARC4, 3DES, MD5, HMAC, SHA-xxx with HMAC, Kasumi and XTS-AES, PKA, PRNG
- Embedded volatile and non-volatile private key storage
- Boot support from 16-bit and 8-bit NAND flash, NOR flash/SD card/serial flash/USB/DRAM
- SLIMPro ARM 32-bit acceleration processor to provide enhanced hardware acceleration capabilities
- Dedicated Ethernet Offload Engine, Classification Engine, Queue Manager / Traffic Manager.
- Power Management via advanced wake up capabilities from Deep Sleep Mode such as Wake on LAN, Wake on USB, Wake on PCIe, and Wake on Interrupts.
10/100/1000 Ethernet is handled by Realtek (RTL8211E)
- 1000Base-T IEEE 802.3ab Compliant
- 100Base-TX IEEE 802.3u Compliant
- 10Base-T IEEE 802.3 Compliant
- IEEE 802.3 Compliant RGMII (RTL8211E/RTL8211EG)
- IEEE 802.3 Compliant GMII (RTL8211EG only)
- Supports IEEE 802.3az Draft 3.2 (Energy Efficient Ethernet)
- Built-in Wake-on-LAN (WOL)
- Supports Interrupt function
- Supports Parallel Detection
- Crossover Detection & Auto-Correction
- Automatic polarity correction
- Supports PHYRSTB core power Turn-Off
- Baseline Wander Correction
- Supports half/full-duplex operation
- Supports 120m for CAT.5 cable in 1000Base-T
- Supports 3.3V or 2.5V signaling for RGMII/GMII
- Supports 25/50MHz external crystal or OSC
- Provides 125MHz clock source for MAC
- Provides 3 network status LEDs
- Supports Link Down power saving
- Green Ethernet (Gigabit mode only)
- Built-in switching regulator
Thecus has done a beautiful job of making things easy for the first time NAS user. You can have this NAS plugged in and configured in a matter of minutes. Initial configuration is handled by Thecus Intelligent NAS software. Installing the Intelligent NAS software is as easy as anything… run the installer, follow the prompts.
Once installed, Intelligent NAS gives you a bird’s-eye view of all things Thecus on your network. You can choose the NAS you want to configure and get things setup quickly
After finding your NAS, the application prompts you for self RAID configuration or manual RAID creation. If you have two similar disks inhabiting your drive trays, Self-RAID configuration will choose RAID 1 and begin the process of creating your volume.
It is a given that using your NAS should be easy, and it is also a given that your NAS should perform well in serving up your files. After all, this is basically what the devices is intended for. To benchmark the NAS, we run synthetic benchmarks as well as benchmark some real world activities. Testing is conducted by configuring the N2560 PRO in both RAID 0 and RAID 1.
NAS Benchmarking Hardware & Methodology details hardware used & methodology for conducting benchmarks.
To see how this NAS compares to others, please visit our NAS Benchmarking Database
For testing the large file transfer speed of the NAS, we transfer a 46.6GB Blu-Ray ISO (Avatar) from the workstation to the NAS and back five times. We pipe the transfer speeds during the benchmark to a .csv file for charting. For more on our Avatar Benchmark please see our Benchmarking application: COD Benchmarking Utility
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For testing the transfer speed of the NAS with smaller files, we use the same method as the Avatar test but instead create two hundred individual MP3′s of specific file sizes for repeatable results. The files are copied from the workstation to the NAS and back 5 times. We pipe the transfer speeds during the benchmark to a .csv file for charting.
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For testing the large file transfer speed of the NAS, we transfer a 2GB file from the workstation to the NAS and back five times. We pipe the transfer speeds during the benchmark to a .csv file for charting.
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For further benchmarking, we test each NAS using Intel’s NAS Performance Toolkit to rate 2 key areas of NAS performance. We measure File Copy speeds to and from the NAS and the Directory Copy speeds to and from the NAS. System RAM is set to 2048MB of RAM to ensure there is no mem caching for transfers.
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CrystalDiskMark is another benchmarking utility that determines speeds by measuring 512KB, 4KB, and 4KB (Queue Depth 32) sequential and random read and write speeds. Test data can be Random, 0Fill, and 1Fill. For our purposes, we left the test at Random.
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The N2310 is a good option for those of you that are looking for your first NAS on a budget. Pound for Pound, this NAS is going to be hard to beat. When you add up all the features Thecus packs into their OS, and then top it off with a sub $150.00 price tag; you are looking at something that is pretty amazing.
In the benchmarks, this NAS isn’t a chart topper. It does manage to squeak out some small victories by beating out the LaCie 2big NAS in most benchmarks, but loses out to the rest of the pack. However, let’s not forget that this NAS is bested by devices in these benchmarks costing twice as much. In my opinion, you don’t buy a budget NAS to top benchmarking charts anyway.
Even though I like the Thecus N2310, it is somewhat of a question mark for me. It has an amazing price tag and packs plenty punch. One of the reasons I question the N2310 is need vs want. Yes, the N2310 has almost everything a home user is looking for in a NAS… but will it do everything you want? It lacks iSCSI, HDMI, and dual Ethernet Ports; for some, those features can be overlooked making this a great option. The primary reason this NAS is a question mark for me is that I am hesitant recommending ANY two bay NAS (this is a recent development). In my opinion, it is inevitable that you will wish you had purchased a four bay device. You will quickly realize that transferring your movies, music, photos, documents, and backing up PCs in your house to one NAS will shrink your percentage of available storage in no time. If it were me in your position, looking at a budget NAS, skip this one and move right up to the N4310 when it becomes available. Same features, some better guts, and more HDD bays.