[THIN] Follow-up for those interested: Low cost NAS Chassis

  • From: Evan Mann <emann@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • To: thin@xxxxxxxxxxxxx
  • Date: Wed, 21 Jun 2006 10:18:56 -0400

This post is lengthy, but I'd imagine it will be of interest to a few
people, and I couldn't find these type of details all in one place, so
I'm offering up my research...

List poster Duff pointed me to Infant (www.infrant.com) as someone to
look at for my empty NAS chassis needs.  I've since done considerable
research on what is out there, and Infant is the clear winner in this
market of $500-700, 4 drive, empty NAS Chassis.  There isn't much else
out there to begin with.  Buffalo is the name most people know in 2 and
4 drive NAS devices to begin with, but they don't sell empty chassis.
Theca's is the other name that is gaining popularity.

Research has yielded that the Buffalo units, even the Pro models are
very basic, no frills devices.  Buffalo does not appears to be
aggressive their keeping their devices up to date to support newer hard
drive (since they don't sell them w/o drives), or to increase
performance.  I have read a number of tests where the Infrant just blows
away the Buffalo in pure performance. There seems to be very low QC with
the Buffalo products, with a lot of people getting stuff DOA.

The Thecus drives currently available use an Xscale processor that
severely hinders their performance.  They have a fairly decent feature
set otherwise.  Thecus has a new box, the N5200 which is just hitting
market which is 5 drive and uses a Celeron M processor.  This one should
be a good performer, but being that it's now 5 drive and using a laptop
CPU, it's expected to ring in at the $1000+ range, so it's in another

The Infrant boxes uses a RISC processor and offer more features then all
the others.  They are linux based so they are pretty stable.  Some key
features only Infrant offers are NFS and AFP support (everyone else
offers SMB/CIFS only), snapshotting, new beta code offers VLAN support
and 750gig drive support (but with only 682GiB due to kernel limitations
(the full release will offer full size availability).  SSH access is
scheduled to be added by the end of the year. They also market these
boxes to home users so they have a slew of media features for
music/video/picture use.

They offer 4 different boxes, but the firmware they use across those
boxes is identical, so if you go looking at the feature comparison on
their website, it's out of date.  They all offer the same functionality.
Where they differ is form factor, # of USB ports, and physical design.
The 1000S rack mount model also has a slightly slower processor then the
3 cubes and some extra memory which can be useful for heavy rsync
operations.  I've learned that the speed difference is also determined
by the board revisions. I f you were to buy a new device today, you'd
get a Rev B boar din the 600/X6, and a Rev NV board in the NV.  The NV
board is the fastest, so it's the fastest box they make.  The Rev B
board is just slightly slower, but this should mean the X6 and 600 are
pretty much identical in speed.

Infrant also runs an extremely active forum (with active Infrant
employees/techs) on their website.  They are very aggressive with
keeping their firmware up to date to support newer drives and increase
performance and they offer beta software to end-users to use at their
own risk.  As a company in general, I have been very impressed. with
what I've seen considering they aren't selling very high dollar stuff
($2000-2200 with 4x500 drives is the most expensive it gets)

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