Thecus has been busy expanding its already extensive range of desktop NAS appliances and its latest N3200 aims to deliver RAID-5 data protection to home users at an affordable price. We were supplied with a review unit by Boston Limited and it went one step beyond by delivering it with three 1TB enterprise-level Hitachi UltraStar SATA hard disks but keeping the asking price just on the right side of four figures.
The N3200 is nicely put together with a solid aluminium chassis and a large external power supply with enough juice to handle the larger hard disk models. As with most of Thecus' appliances the N3200 can be purchased diskless with prices for this around the £300 mark. The drive bays are accessed by slipping the top part of the front cover off where you'll find three hot-swap carriers behind. The carriers are a bit flimsy as they consist of two guide rails each with tabs that slot into the hard disk screw holes but cannot be fixed in place. Below the bay is Thecus' standard blue LCD panel which provides a complete status report on the RAID array, both Gigabit Ethernet ports and their IP addresses, the internal temperature and fan speed. Buttons are provided alongside for manually configuring network addresses if required.
Plenty of connection options are available as you have USB 2.0 ports fore and aft and even an eSATA port at the back. We did notice that on removing the rear cover there is a third USB port hidden away but this is obscured by the cover so can't be used. An unusual feature is the expansion card slot at the back but this should be completely ignored as although it's touted as a feature it is not actually supported on this particular model. We discussed this with Thecus and it stated that it will not be used on the N3200 but that it plans to release an N3200M version which will have an AV card fitted with a range of outputs including optical and HDMI.
Installation is helped along with the bundled Setup Wizard which locates the appliance on the network and enables you to set up the Ethernet ports and RAID array. Naturally, we went for a RAID-5 array but you can go for mirrors, stripes or separate JBODs if you wish. Thecus has been sloppy with the user manual as it makes a reference to iSCSI targets but these are most definitely not supported.