ASUSTOR AS3202T Review (Page 2 of 8)

Page 2 - A Closer Look - Hardware (External)

The ASUSTOR AS3202T's external design is yet another implementation of the company's latest network attached storage system design scheme, first seen in the ASUSTOR AS1002T I reviewed last year. It looks exactly the same as the AS3102T I reviewed a couple of months ago. The AS3202T is created in stark contrast with anything we have seen prior to the AS1002T, and I found the diamond plate finished plastic cover to be quite attractive. Even though the AS3202T is not meant to be a home entertainment device, it does not hurt to have something that looks good in the living room. The good news is it will not look out of place in an industrial setting either. That said, while the cover design is a departure from mainstream systems, there is nothing too radical at heart -- and this is a good thing. This is still a two bay device in its traditional form factor. Measuring in at 10.2cm wide, 21.8cm deep, and 16.5cm tall according to specifications, these figures are identical as its predecessors. Like every consumer grade network attached storage system we have reviewed in the past, the ASUSTOR AS3202T features an external power brick; we will cover that in detail in just a moment. The advantage of this is that a heat source is placed outside the system for improved thermal efficiency.

In order to accommodate the slick diamond plate finished plastic cover, the ASUSTOR AS3202T does not feature removable front loaded drive trays. The tradeoff is, obviously, a bit of convenience, and the lack of ventilation slots on the front cover means cooling performance will be affected slightly as well. For the current design, airflow over the hard drives driven by the rear mounted cooling fan inside the system, and enters the NAS through ventilation slots at the bottom; more on this later.

ASUSTOR's logo is finished in brushed silver-colored finish recessed into the diamond plate cover, and placed near the top right corner; whereas a black, brushed hard plastic surface occupies a slim vertical portion on the left. An array of four LEDs are located in this area. Starting from the top, the first one glows steady green when the NAS is turned on, and flashes every ten seconds in night mode. Next up is a system status indicator LED. When booting, it will flash green, and turn steady when your NAS is ready. If there is a system, hard disk, fan, or system temperature abnormality, it will turn red. Moving below is a network LED, which will light steady green when the network port is connected. Lastly, a green hard disk activity LED will glow steady when the hard drive is idling, and flash when data access is in progress. Near the bottom, you will find what appears to be an IR receiver above the front USB 3.0 port. The IR receiver is functional in this model, and is used for the remote, which we will look at in just a moment.

The ASUSTOR AS3202T is constructed on a steel frame, while its shell that covers the remainder of the sides of the system is composed of black plastic. The textured plastic is reasonably resistant to fingerprints and scratches. What we have at the back of the system is an extremely simple array of connectors. Here, we have a power button, reset pinhole, two USB 3.0 ports, HDMI 1.4b connector, Gigabit Ethernet port, and a DC 12V input from the external power brick. There is also a Kensington lock at the bottom left corner. Occupying a large chunk of space at the back is a single 70mm exhaust fan to pull heat out of your NAS server. Exhaust vents are cut into the steel panel. In my opinion, a proper fan grille would have been better, but this should not affect cooling performance to a significant degree.

The plastic shell is attached by two screws. You will not void your warranty if you want to open it up, because you will have to do so in order to install hard drives. What the warranty seal covers is a screw that attaches the fan to the chassis frame. You will void the warranty only if you want to take the fan out, but you can probably clean it without doing so. There are no other user serviceable parts inside. Therefore, I think the warranty seal is placed in a reasonable location. We will dig into the AS3202T's interior in more detail on the next page.

There is nothing particularly exciting at the bottom of the ASUSTOR AS3202T's chassis; what you will see here are four large legs affixed on top of its plastic shell. As always, they are installed to reduce vibration noise, increase grip, and prevent surface scratching. The bottom of the network attached storage system features a neat array of ventilation openings. It is placed right near the front, below the hard drives bays inside, as an air intake. A small inscription at the bottom labeled "Open" and "Close" is present to indicate the position of the plastic shell. You know, in case you could not tell it was open or closed in the first place.

An optional AS-RC10 remote control can be purchased to go with the ASUSTOR AS3202T. It is powered by two AAA batteries; not included. If you are looking to place your network attached storage system in your living room, and use it as a media center PC, this will be an absolutely invaluable accessory. The remote control is very compact, and extremely simple in nature. As you can see in our photo above, there is a power button at the top, with a Home and Settings button under it. A D-pad with an OK button in the middle is present to simplify navigation tasks. At the bottom, you will find the ASUSTOR logo, and a Back button on the left. On the right, a Play/Pause button is aptly labeled with its corresponding symbol. Overall, you will not find a simpler remote control, and I am happy it is quite intuitively designed.

Page Index
1. Introduction, Packaging, Specifications
2. A Closer Look - Hardware (External)
3. A Closer Look - Hardware (Internal)
4. Configuration and User Interface, Part I
5. Configuration and User Interface, Part II
6. Configuration and User Interface, Part III
7. Performance and Power Consumption
8. Conclusion