With the Thecus N5550 out of the box, the overall design isn’t anything revolutionary as far as 5-bay NAS enclosures go. Everything, aside from the LCD panel, is hidden behind a vented door. The vented door had a fair amount of flex in it, that made it feel like it might easily break. This was only noted as the vented door is secured by a locking mechanism that requires you to push on the door to lock and unlock (similar to those pre-fab furniture cabinet doors). There is no lock on the vented door, but there are individual key locks on each drive bay. With the vented door open, the 5 drive bays, status LEDs, power/reset buttons, USB 3.0 port, and navigation buttons for the LCD panel are immediately accessible. The decision by Thecus to include a front panel LCD is a big bonus in my opinion, as it allows for quick status updates without having to log into the management interface.
On the rear of the unit is where the remaining (and majority) of the connectivity ports are located. Here you have 1 x AC port, 4 x USB 2.0, 2 x 1Gb Ethernet, 1 x eSATA, 1 x VGA port, 1 x HDMI port, and audio ports. As already noted, it would have been nice to have more USB 3.0 ports on the rear of the unit.
Taking a look at the driver carriers, Thecus chose metal carriers and didn’t cheap out here using all plastic carriers. The locking mechanism is also another area where some cost cutting can occur, but the locking mechanism on these carriers appear to be very robust and will hold up over time.
Thecus makes servicing and upgrading the N5550 very easy. After a couple thumb screws, the entire external chassis cover lifts off and exposes the internal components. Adding additional memory is very easy endeavor. Aside from the single enclosure fan, everything appears to be passively cooled. Assuming the single chassis fan is capable of drawing enough air to cool 5 drives and the mainboard vital components, the omission of additional fans will help keep the audible noise to a minimum.