Thecus N4810 review

A superb-value 4-bay with a few rough edges, this is a great choice for techies – less so anyone else

IT Pro Value
Price
£238
  • Great value; Good speeds; Good upgrade potential
  • Unintuitive setup; Comparatively limited app selection; Clunky software

Thecus pitches the N4810 as a 'high value NAS' and it's hard to disagree. This four-bay appliance includes dual Gigabit Ethernet connections, HDMI and DisplayPort video outputs, a quad-core Celeron N3160 processor and 4GB of RAM, yet you can still find it for around (or even under) 300.

For this reason alone we're willing to cut the N4810 a certain amount of slack. General build quality is perfectly good, but the design isn't as stylish or as effective at noise dampening as some of Synology's offerings, and the lockable slide-in caddies feel rougher sliding in and out. Also, the pins on the clips that hold the drives in place are tricky to fit into the relevant holes.

On the plus side, remove the casing and you can easily upgrade the RAM from 4GB to 8GB through a spare SODIMM slot. Meanwhile, there's a two-line LCD display along with four buttons, allowing you to check systems info and configure basic settings without connecting to the NAS through your browser.

It's hard to overstate how much Thecus' firmware has improved with the release of its Thecus OS7, yet there are still some obstacles to get over when setting up the N4810. The Thecus Setup Wizard does little more than find the NAS and configure the network and the admin password, leaving you to type the IP address into the browser to connect to the web-based admin interface. This takes you through more in-depth network setup and RAID configuration, with plenty of options for power users, but intuitive and user friendly it is not. Once that's finished with, you're in for a painfully long wait while the NAS builds and verifies the volume, during which you can do absolutely nothing.

In our case, once that was over Windows 10 refused to recognise the NAS or provide access to its folders, forcing us to map a network drive to the IP address before we could get content on or off the shares. Weirdly, turning on link aggregation meant the NAS was lost again - even though we'd maintained the same fixed IP address - until we turned it on and off and rediscovered it in the Thecus Setup Wizard. Thecus can't really be blamed for this given the woefully unpredictable state of Windows 10 networking, but we haven't experience this kind of aggravation with any other brand of NAS.

Once up and running, the software is still a little clunky in comparison to QNAP's or Synology's; think Linux desktop of ten years ago rather than a modern desktop UI. What's more, the app line-up isn't as strong. All the basics of backup, cloud integration, surveillance and media server functionality are well covered, with a choice of OwnCloud or SyncThing for cloud-like storage and synchronisation, but the more exciting virtualisation or desktop computing features of Asustor and QNAP appliances aren't in place.

Ease-of-use is the N4810's biggest weakness, but if you can live with its foibles there's a lot of NAS here for the money. It doesn't cost significantly more than many two-bay appliances but gives you all the RAID and future upgrade options of a serious four-bay NAS, along with the spec to make more demanding applications fly. Performance in our tests was excellent, with high sustained read and write speeds over larger files and equally impressive read and write times with smaller files, even while streaming 4K video. It's not as versatile as the competition and requires a modicum of expertise, but if you're looking for an affordable NAS with room to grow, the N4810 is hard to beat.

Verdict

It’s not as versatile as the competition and requires a modicum of expertise, but if you’re looking for an affordable NAS with room to grow, the N4810 is hard to beat.

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