For all intents and purposes the N7700Pro is a souped up version of the. It still takes seven 3.5-inch hard drives, and still has the flip open door on the front and individual lockable drive trays. Two USB ports on the front, two on the back, an eSATA port, a serial port for UPS monitoring and not-so-quiet dual 90mm fans combined with a 40mm PSU fan are still part of the equation too.
What is new is the 4GB RAM instead of 2GB, dual DOMs, support for 25 iSCSI targets instead of 15, and a 1.66GHz Core 2 Duo processor over the older Celeron M 1.86GHz chip.
It also supports 10GbE — but despite all the advertising it isn't featured out of the box. The capability comes as a result of Thecus switching from a spare PCI-e x1 slot to PCI-e x8 internally — the purchasing of the expansion card is entirely up to the buyer. Given that we only run a gigabit network at CNET, we settled for the standard fit-out which comes with dual-gigabit Ethernet ports only.
Setting up the box is fairly simple, although Thecus continues with its annoying practice of not defaulting the box to DHCP, meaning you'll need to configure the IP through the confusing buttons on the front of the device. You could potentially also use Thecus' included Setup Wizard software; however, during testing it couldn't find the N7700Pro on the network, so using a friendlier user interface (UI) was out of the question.
AJAX, spray and wipe
Thecus has had a massive user interface overhaul since we last looked at its devices, going the AJAX and Flash way of Synology and QNAP.
Initially opening the web interface greets you with three bubbles floating in mid air, with no labels and icons just vague enough to make you slightly uncertain as to what will happen when you click them. Reasonably quickly though you figure out they're shortcuts for system admin, a web-based file manager, and the most obvious, a photo viewer.
Things start pretty. You can quickly figure out what the icons are, but some labels would be nice just to make sure. (Screenshot by CBS Interactive)
It is at least pretty though; once you get into the system admin proper, despite the AJAX, it still feels old: a hallmark of Thecus' interfaces it seems. Also annoying is the menu on the left; it's broken into sections like most that expand when clicked upon. The problem is this sends all other menu entries to the bottom of the screen, generating a huge amount of extra mouse work just to go through the available options.