The Ultra 2 is designed in the same way as the ReadyNAS Duo we tested earlier, the new hardware platform never showing up. The case is mostly steel except for the front panel which has a few plastic details. The appearance is professional and serious. Even the front-panel indicators are quite inconspicuous except for the one in the Power button. The Ultra 2 has the same dimensions as the ReadyNAS Duo: 22 x 14 x 10 centimeters.
Hard disks are installed into the hot-swap bays that hide behind a metal grid door which facilitates their cooling. To the left of it there are a few buttons and indicators among which we can spot a USB 3.0 port. It’s hard to tell whether the new interface is really necessary today and why the NAS has only one such port. The two USB connectors at the back are version 2.0. Also on the back panel there are as many as two Ethernet ports, a fan grid, a Reset button, a power adapter connector, and a Kensington security slot. There is one unlabelled connector here which seems to be used for console access. There are additional vent grids in the side panels.
The Reset button can be pressed in different ways to roll back the NAS’s settings, reinstall its firmware from the internal flash chip to the hard disks, switch the NAS into a tech support mode, and run a system memory or HDD check.
Like its predecessor, the Ultra 2 should be praised for its excellent exterior design and quality of manufacture. It is going to match any living-room interior.
The Ultra series NASes are based on the x86 platform. The Ultra 2 model has a single-core Intel Atom D425 processor which is clocked at 1.8 GHz and supports Hyper-Threading. The processor chip bears a small aluminum heatsink for cooling. The system memory is limited to a single 1GB DDR3 SO-DIMM. You can replace it with a higher-capacity module, like in most other Netgear NASes. The SATA and USB 2.0 ports are implemented via the NM10 chipset; USB 3.0 is supported by a NEC D720200F1 controller. The Ethernet interfaces are based on two Marvell controllers connected via PCI Express 1x. There is also a 128MB flash memory chip on the PCB. It stores an OS image whereas the OS itself runs from a dedicated partition on the hard disks.
There are as many as three PCBs in the Ultra 2. Besides the main one, there is a card for hard disks and another card with Ethernet and USB ports. The main PCB does not have a video output for a monitor. The single jumper we can see on it is not labeled.
The metallic chassis is very robust, so this NAS should be most reliable.
The 92x25mm fan that occupies most of the back panel is rather easy to take off for cleaning or replacing. Its speed is regulated automatically, and the NAS is rather quiet even under high load. The manufacturer says that the Ultra 2 is not going to consume more than 38 watts with two 2-terabyte disks inside.