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Thread: HEXUS.reviews :: Thecus YES Box N2100

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    HEXUS.reviews :: Thecus YES Box N2100

    Cast your mind back a few months, to when the sun shone more often and we weren't all in debt from Christmas. Back then, we brought you a review of the Thecus N4100 NAS device. Holding up to four SATA drives and supporting RAID 5, it was a fairly hefty piece of storage kit that would have been well suited to offices looking for somewhere central to store and share, or backup data. We felt, however, that for the home user, even the enthusiast, it was a little too much.

    Since that time, Thecus has come forward with a new product, geared more towards the media-man market. Guys and gals pay attention. If you've got a lot of media, Thecus want you to get yourself a YES Box.
    http://www.hexus.net/content/item.php?item=4342
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    It sounds to me like its performance is just as poor as the N4100

    I've been using an N4100 now on and off for around 6 months, I say 'on and off' as until a recent firmware update it would constantly vanish from from the network.

    What Thecus is doing is commendable, however, the performace is just downright crap. As an exmaple I transfered 500MB's worth of data from a Dell PowerEdge 2800 server running Windows Server 2003 to my N4100 and it took approx 4 minutes, from the above server to another Dell 2800 the transfer took 40 seconds.

    The CPU used in these devices by Thecus is woefully underpowered
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    Quote Originally Posted by Fatboy40
    It sounds to me like its performance is just as poor as the N4100

    I've been using an N4100 now on and off for around 6 months, I say 'on and off' as until a recent firmware update it would constantly vanish from from the network.

    What Thecus is doing is commendable, however, the performace is just downright crap. As an exmaple I transfered 500MB's worth of data from a Dell PowerEdge 2800 server running Windows Server 2003 to my N4100 and it took approx 4 minutes, from the above server to another Dell 2800 the transfer took 40 seconds.

    The CPU used in these devices by Thecus is woefully underpowered
    Indeed it is the CPU, it's quite a general purpose one but I do believe you can find it in PDAs. I reckon Thecus should think about moving to a nano-ITX form factor and an appropriate VIA chip, as that would surely deliver much better throughput.
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    Fan noise?

    Great review of the Thecus N2100!

    It does seem like the CPU is limiting transfer speeds. In this review, write speeds reached around 5-6 MB/sec, and CPU usage seemed to peg close to 100%. An ExtremeTech review of the similar N4100 (which has the same Intel XScale IOP 80219 processor) pegged CPU utilization at around 65%, and read/write transfers at around 9-10 MB/sec. FatBoy40's real-world experience seems to suggest a transfer rate of only 2 MB/sec (500 MB in 4 min). You would figure that the ntel 80219 CPU, which I believe is rated at 600 MHz, and its platform which supports 64-bit 133 MHz PCI-X architecture with a 200 MHz bus, would be fast enough. See http://www.intel.com/design/iio/80219.htm

    I wonder if there's a way to "benchmark" the different CPUs used in different NAS solutions, like the Buffalo Gigabit Linkstation, etc.

    My only question is, how large is that fan, and (1) does it keep the unit cool enough, (2) is it loud? One of the problems others have noted with the Thecus N4100 model is it is very loud.

    Thanks!
    Last edited by =Tarrant=; 28-01-2006 at 03:57 PM.

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    Hi Tarrant,

    The fan is a 40mm model and it's temperature controlled. With the drives we had in the box, it wasn't all that noisy, certainly not as noisy as the N4100 and nowhere near as noisy as the Synology DiskStation 101g+ gets.
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    Bummed out

    Well, after spending hundreds of dollars at Newegg for the Thecus N2100 and a pair of Maxtor Maxline III 300 GB SATA-II drives, I have to say I'm bummed.

    Physical installation was easy. But the case was quite flimsy, and was made of thin plastic rather than metal like aluminum. My unit (black) also came with the external side panels already scratched and scuffed.

    After installing the pair of hard drives and plugging in the power and LAN cables, I ran their Windows-based setup utility. Here, I had to reconfigure my router, as my local network had an address of 192.168.2.xxx while the N2100 defaulted to a fixed IP address of 192.168.1.100 ... had to change my LAN IP to be able to detect the unit.

    Next, I found that the firmware was 1.0.3, while the latest available was 1.0.5hotfix1. Updated firmware, rebooted.

    I was glad to see that the N2100 was able to detect and correctly identify the make, model, and capacity of my two drives. However, the unit hanged when trying to create the JBOD or RAID volume.

    CPU usage during the RAID creation was 100%. However, the RAID Information status screen showed that it was unable to figure out how to complete the build. The N2100 was stuck at "Formating ... Please wait ... " ... there was no percent-complete indicator, it was unable to tell me the volume capacity, and it was never able to complete the RAID or JBOD configuration step, which meant that the unit was unusable as a NAS.

    After trying to reset to factory default settings, fiddling with one-versus-two drives installed, it still failed to initialize the volume (even after waiting 8 hours!) The other thing was, I got this crytic error message from its web-configuration interface while it crashed:

    Warning: Division by zero in /img/inc/info/cpuinfo.class.php on line 156

    Finally, the unit died on me and now even fails to boot. The status indicator light is blinking red indicating a system error, and I can no longer access the web-based interface. Even the Windows-based setup utility cannot identify the N2100 on the network.

    Thecus tech support in the USA was unable to help me, but to their credit they've escalated this issue to their HQ in Taiwan. Unfortunately, they are all celebrating Chinese New Years, and won't be back to their offices until next week. I have a feeling I will have to either (1) RMA the N2100, or (2) swallow the 15% restocking fee at Newegg and get another set of SATA drives. FYI Thecus maintains a very small list of hard drives that have been tested as being "compatible" with the N2100 ... many drives are "older" models, such as the Maxtor Maxline II or Seagate Barracuda 7200.7 and 7200.8 series.

    In the meantime, I've spend ~$600 for a non-functional product. Definitely not a good customer experience!

    Any thoughts or suggestions?

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    Tarrant, that realy is a kick in the teeth I hope you can get it resolved.

    Can I ask, was the noise generated by the N2100 more or less than a s.f.f. PC ?, would a well setup bottom end Shuttle with two disks be quieter ?.
    I'm not fat and I'm not 40

    Quote Originally Posted by JPreston View Post
    I'm pretty disappointed that in the 21st century so much human endeavour and industry is still devoted to ascertaining whose imaginary sky-fairy is best...

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    thanks fatboy40. the n2100 has a single 40mm fan that is temp controlled, about 5000 RPMs. i have it in the living room next to the TV ... fairly quiet. I don't notice it really. if you get to about 3 feet, you can hear it.

    Of course, the drives in my computer are only 33 degrees C, but the ones in the N2100 reach 42 degrees C. So they run hot!

  9. #9
    stv
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    I've experienced the same problem as Tarrant. I bought my N2100 with 2 Maxtor Maxline III SATA-II drives as well. I left RAID 0 formatting overnight and it was still stuck at "Formating ... Please wait ... " the next morning (10 hours later!). The N2100 had completely hung - I couldn't access the web interface or turn it off using its own power button. Frustrated, I decided to yank out the power cable and when I booted it up again I could access the web interface, remove the dud RAID setup and revert back to sanity.

    I contacted Thecus customer services and recieved this response :

    'We got feedback recently from some users regarding Maxtor MaxLine III 7V300F0 model HDD can not finished the formatting by N2100, owing to the model just come out at last month and it is not selling in Taiwan yet, so we have not had an opportunity to test that new model HDD. Now we are trying our best and researching with Maxtor to figuring out the problem, when we get solve, we will provide solution ASAP.
    At the moment, please change different HDD model for N2100, as we know, all the model of HDDs in the market are compatible with N2100 except Maxtor MaxLine III 7V300F0'

    Basically, I had to get a new HDD or wait indefinitely for a solution that may not exist. So I switched to a single 500GB Seagate Barracuda 7200.9 after absorbing the returns costs for the Maxline III's. Its working much better now and formatted as JBOD in no time.

    The next problem I have is connecting my external USB2 HDD's. I've got 2 Maxtor 1 Touch 2 external drives connected to it and the N2100 keeps accessing 1 of the drives non-stop. I disconnected the network cables from the N2100 to see if it was a client causing it, but the accessing carried on. The other external drive is fine, it just has a thing for one of them. I've switched the usb ports used, rebooted the N2100 but as soon as it gets a look at the 1 HDD it starts reading it non-stop for no apparent reason. No word yet from Thecus support on that one. Any thoughts from anyone here?

    I wonder if Maxtor and Thecus are mutually exclusive!

    Anyways, thought I'd share my happy(!) experience thus far with everyone.
    Last edited by stv; 10-02-2006 at 09:59 PM.

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    STV, I got a similar response from Thecus. In my case, I'm absorbing the cost of the restocking fee of the Thecus for a Infrant ReadyNAS NV. It almost twice as expensive, but offers 4 drive bays, compatibility with Network media players, and I think better performance and support.

    Then again, the Maxtor Maxline III 7V300F0 model isn't on Infrant's list of compatible drives either (ie. not been tested), so who knows? Maybe I'll run into this problem again and have to return the Maxtors.

    I like the Maxline III's because they're designed for near-line applications like a NAS, with increased MTBF, 16MB cache, NCQ, and SATA-II interface. They're ideal for always-on but low-usage environments. The only other company with a similar near-line drive is Seagate's NL35 line. However, the NL35's are more expensive, and harder to find.
    Last edited by =Tarrant=; 19-02-2006 at 08:41 PM.

  11. #11
    stoot
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    Hi,

    I joined the forum to post this question in the hope of finding an answer...

    Does anyone have experience using the N2100 with a modded xbox running XBMC? I'm looking for some centralised storage to hold all my media which will mostly be accesed through XBMC and as such it's a main priority for me.

    Reading the posts in this thread has made me think twice about the Thecus but I'm still interested in finding out if it plays nice with XBMC. If anyone has tried or has the means to test it I'd appreciate any info.

    Thanks in advance.

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    I got my XMBC to read off of N2100.
    To XMBC, N2100 is just another SMB server, but it was a hassle to setup without using a keyboard.

    N2100 Firmware v2.0.00 is released on 2006.03.28

    Maxtor problem was fixed in N2100 Firmware v1.0.5hotfix2
    1. Fixed the problem that Maxtor MaXLine III and DiamondMax 10 SATA 3.0G hard drives failed to complete RAID formatting.
    2. Fixed the problem that UPnP didn't work.
    3. Fixed the problem that iTunes on wireless client failed to connect to N2100.

  13. #13
    stoot
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    mwk66 you are a star

    been hunting for an answer to this for ages. thanks.

    as for the setup without keyboard... maybe edit the xbmc xml files on your pc then ftp them back?

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    I have a WL-500g router, Xbox (with Aladdin chip), N2100 on my home network.
    It's fun to be able to watch videos, pictures stored in N2100 on my 53 inch projection TV.
    My daughter loves the old "Village People" video.

    N2100 v2.0.00 supports Jumbo Frame, but none of my equipment can take advantage of that.

    I used the Xbox remote control. Now it's setup to map to the media folder on my N2100.
    What version of XMBC are you running?

  15. #15
    stoot
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    I'm using the latest CVS build which is only a couple of days old now.

    Thanks for the info, I think I might be buying the Thecus on pay day (tomorrow!!!) and then the fun will begin Think I'll get a couple of western digital drives for it cos I heard they run cooler.

    Out of interest is your Thecus on 24/7 and if so how does it handle it? And what is Jumbo Frame

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    I would suggest check the HDD Compatibility List first before you buy the WD HDDs, because some people complained Maxtor HDD did not work and gave pretty bad reviews on newegg.com
    http://www.newegg.com/Product/Produc...ufactory=10547

    I leave my N2100 on all the time, but I take it home from my office during the weekends. So I don't know if that is 24/7.

    And what is Jumbo Frame
    In short, I think it's able to send frames larger then 1500 bytes on Ethernet.
    For more information, check http://sd.wareonearth.com/~phil/jumbo.html

    How do I upgrade XMBC? Just ftp the new binary into the machine?

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