Articles: Networking

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Exterior Design

The design of the DS411 can be traced back to the CubeStation CS-406, one of the earliest 4-disk NASes. There have only been some minor cosmetic changes over the years. The dimensions have remained the same: 16.8 x 23 x 18.5 centimeters. The bottom part of the case is black glossy plastic. The metallic top is matte black.

There are large manufacturer logos on the side panels. The front door is made of matte black plastic. It is largely a vent grid, in fact. There is a glossy strip on which you can see a Power button with a built-in LED and six other indicators (system status, network activity and one indicator per each HDD).

There are two fans installed on the flip-down back panel. Below it you can find a Gigabit Ethernet port, two USB 2.0 connectors, an eSATA port, a power connector and a hidden Reset button. The DS411 is going to look perfect in any home environment but its indicators are somewhat too bright to our taste.

Hardware Configuration

This class of devices does not support hot-swapping of HDDs. You have to install them into the case and get to know what’s inside your NAS along the way. You will find a PCB with a 1.6GHz ARM processor Marvell 6282, DDR3 memory chips for a total of 512 MB, a 4MB flash memory chip to boot from, an auxiliary network chip, a 4-port SATA Marvell 88SX7042 controller, and a USB hub GL850G. The eSATA port is implemented through the controller integrated into the main processor.

There is a separate card with combined SATA and power connectors for HDDs. This connection looks more reliable than the cables that used to be employed in early CubeStation products. The processor chip is equipped with a small heatsink whereas the whole NAS is ventilated with two 80x20mm fans. The fans use a 3-pin connection with automatic speed regulation according to user-defined priority (cooling, silence or power saving).

The NAS takes fresh air in through the front panel, drives it along the HDD bays and exhausts it through the back panel. The ventilation system is rather quiet due to the lack of hot-swap disk bays and to some other design peculiarities. There is a console connector on the PCB but you will hardly need it considering that you can have console access via the network interface.

All in all, the DS411 configuration is quite good for a modern midrange NAS but it would be even better if the manufacturer had implemented a second eSATA or more USB 2.0 ports (the hub allows that). As for USB 3.0, it would require an additional controller which would make the NAS more expensive.

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