|Thecus N7700 SATA 7-Disk RAID NAS|
|Reviews - Featured Reviews: Network|
|Written by Olin Coles|
|Tuesday, 05 May 2009|
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Closer Look: N7700
There's an irony present in these NAS reviews: while a Network Attached Storage server is the clear and present answer to so many problems, very few people actually know they exist. The Benchmark Reviews Featured Reviews: Network section is filled with many different NAS products, and this article will add the largest network attached storage server yet: the Thecus N7700 7-bay SATA-driven NAS. Boasting one of the few NAS products capable of offering the capacity of seven drive bays, which equals 14TB with the availability of 2TB hard drives as of Q1 2009, the N7700 could be the last server your organization may ever need.
The Thecus N7700 chassis measures 12.6" tall x 8.3" wide x 10.6" long, and weighs just over 14 LBS. Since the standard rack unit ('U') measures 1.75" tall by 19.0" wide per unit, the Thecus N7700 is just slightly taller than a 7U height rack case with the feet attached, and could accommodate two units inside the 7U workspace once removed. With roughly three inches of spare space between two units, other network appliances could be fit inside of the footprint. A stylish NAS server with brushed silver and anodized black aluminum construction, the N7700 offers a collection of LED lights to indicate real-time status of server components and a LCD display screen at the front of the unit offers immediate feedback for IT administrators and allows a direct interface for configuration.
Two USB 2.0 ports can be utilized for connecting flash drives, printers, and external hard drives; and are joined by two more ports in the backside of the chassis. A brushed aluminum power button is positioned below these USB ports, and four menu buttons are located beneath the LCD display screen. The vented chassis door opens with a swing from left to right, and cannot be exchanged for a different orientation.
Behind the door there are seven hot-swappable drive bays, and while the door itself cannot be locked each one of the trays can be secured into the chassis. LED signals along the left side of each tray report activity and alerts, while the tray eject button beside them unlatch the unit from the chassis. While I often times look for installation shortcuts, the Thecus N7700 refused my attempt to install hard disk drives into the NAS without securing them (by screw) to each tray because of a small gap between the front of the tray and the NAS backplane.
Around the back side of the Thecus N7700 you'll find what first appears to be a small form factor (SFF) computer, and by most accounts this would be an accurate description. At the top is a single expansion bay slot, which doesn't have any immediate function but still hides a potentially useful PCI-E 1x slot behind it. Next is a pair of 92m cooling fans, which are user serviceable by removing four thumb-screws and pulling the panel rearward. Next are two Gigabit Ethernet ports, which utilize the Intel WG82574L PCI-E controllers for high-speed throughput. Although one port is name WAN and the other LAN, the labels are misleading because these can be configured to act as a teamed set.
Thecus includes a rather antiquated DB-9 serial port for UPS communication, which allows compatible Uninterruptible Power Supply products to shut down the NAS in the event of low remaining battery life. While this might seem like a wasted attempt and earning functionality points, primarily because most USP products now communicate via USB connections, there are two additional (four total) High-Speed USB 2.0 ports beside a single e-SATA port. A Kensington Security Slot does not appear to be present on the N7700.
Unlike most of the NAS products we've tested here at Benchmark Reviews which use an external A/C power adapter 'brick', the Thecus N7700 NAS Server uses a replaceable integrated power supply unit. To measure isolated NAS power consumption, Benchmark Reviews uses the Kill-A-Watt EZ (model P4460) power meter made by P3 International. I was able to determine exactly how much electrical power the Thecus N7700 consumes in empty, idle, and active modes. With no drives installed the N7700 consumed a mere 54W, and once loaded with seven 1.5 Terabyte Seagate Barracuda 7200.11 SATA desktop hard drives (ST31500341AS) the idle (not standby) power draw was steady at 64W. Once the drives were configured into a RAID-5 array and file transfers began, the power demand increased to only 80W. It's evident that going green isn't difficult with these NAS products; something administrators should keep in mind.
In our detailed features section on the next page, the N7700 will be disassembled and inspected for design flaws before we test for performance. Please continue on to learn more about this powerful NAS product.