When we saw the specifications of the M3800 Stream Box NAS, we really wanted to love this box as we were looking for an alternate solution for serving up multimedia files. As we stated before, the M3800 NAS is essentially a Thecus N3200 Pro NAS with high-definition multimedia outputs. The Thecus M3800 NAS runs $450 (before populating it with hard drives), while the Thecus N3200 Pro NAS runs $350. The question that NAS shoppers need to answer is if they want to pay $100 for this functionality. Is it really worth being able to play some of their audio and video files directly from a NAS box? Hell, with that $100, you are halfway to owning a Microsoft X-Box 360 with media serving capabilities and a good portion of the way to owning a Sony PlayStation3 that has streaming AND a Blu-ray player.
The bright spot on the shaky AV performance however is the ability for Thecus to upgrade the M3800 firmware. We can only hope that the next revision in their software will include support for the MP3 file format as well as a better way to manage TS and VOB files. Of course we would like MKV support, but there are very few boxes on the market that have that right now so we really aren’t holding our breath.
When looking at how the M3800 performed as a NAS, there is very little to complain about. The NAS was not only rock solid in its performance and very easy to set up, it communicated very well with the drives that we populated the box with. During our testing of the NAS, the M3800 informed us that we had errors on one of the drives we used for our RAID 5 array. The NAS was still functioning, but our benchmarks looked a bit strange so we replaced the drive, rebuilt the RAID 5 array and reran our benches.
The rebuilding of the RAID 5 array took about 10 hours just to give you an estimate of the time it takes to do this sort of process. After the rebuild was done, the NAS was nice and happy and we actually saw an increase in speeds. With that said, the overall speeds that we saw with the Thecus M3800 are on par with RAID 5 boxes. The transfer speeds over gigabit enthernet didn’t blow us away, but they were certainly fast enough for small office/home office (SOHO) use.
We hope that Thecus supports the M3800 as well as they support their other line network attached devices. I would expect a firmware upgrade coming soon to alleviate the problem of playing MP3s from the host and maybe even pick up some more codecs to play like MKV.
Legit Bottom Line: As a NAS, the Thecus M3800 is a top of the line performer with every bell and whistle you can ask for and more than adequate transfer speeds. As the center of audiovisual media center, it still has some work to do.