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Review: Thecus N2560

by Parm Mann on 16 September 2013, 14:00

Tags: Thecus (4978.TWO)

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Introduction

The Thecus N2560 is a dual-bay NAS aimed at the home multimedia user. Heading to stores in the next couple of weeks, the compact network storage solution touts "improved performance along with cutting-edge features," making it worthy of consideration for consumers looking to consolidate their media library in one central location.

Right from the off, it's clear that Thecus's design isn't intended for business environments or experienced network administrators. The white, 166mm x 114mm x 210mm chassis is a departure from the company's staid black boxes, and though NAS aesthetics are unlikely to be a key requirement for would-be buyers, a bit of swagger won't do any harm. Pricing, meanwhile, is set at £270, though Thecus isn't expecting UK availability until November at the earliest.

Up front, a push-to-release door reveals access to the two numbered drive bays, while an attractive grey column houses a front-facing USB 3.0 port, a backlit power switch, a USB Copy button and various status LEDs. The cutout Thecus logo on the side of the box is also garnished with a white backlight, but if you deem that a step too far, the illumination can be disabled through the software interface.

Around back, a single, 80mm fan is tasked with cooling the unit and a handful of ports are available for multiple usage scenarios. Alongside the single Gigabit Ethernet jack you'll find a pair of USB 2.0 ports that offer external storage and print server functionality, as well as HDMI and SPDIF outputs that can be used to connect the NAS to a display for direct multimedia playback through XBMC. Near the bottom of the box, a DC IN port is used to attach the small, 40W external power supply.

Keeping it simple appears to be the thinking behind the largely plastic chassis, but the drive mechanisms are a tad too basic for our liking. Instead of using tried-and-trusted metal trays, the N2560 provides two sets of plastic clips that attach to the sides of 3.5in drives. The mechanism works just fine - as does the push-to-release eject - however there's no official support for 2.5in drives, and there are no spare clips included in the box. Break or misplace one of the plastic attachments and you're out of luck.

There's room for improvement as far the drive bays are concerned, but elsewhere, Thecus does have some interesting hardware under the N2560's hood. At the heart of the unit is an Intel Atom CE5335 'Evansport' system-on-chip that incorporates two CPU cores and a PowerVR GPU.

Moving performance up a notch from the earlier N2520, the improved single-chip Intel Atom is clocked higher at 1.6GHz (compared to the previous 1.2GHz Atom CE5315) and the amount of accompanying DDR3 memory has doubled to 2GB. Judging by the specification alone, the N2560 should offer a level of performance that sits somewhere between low-cost ARM-powered solutions and premium NAS boxes equipped with high-power Intel chips.