With the drive fully assembled, the N0204 looks more like an external portable hard drive rather than a NAS. It really is small, but that is one of its main selling features. The chassis itself has a good feel about it as the casing is constructed of both plastic and aluminum and weighs a couple of pounds.
The base that comes with the unit serves a dual purpose, as it turns out. Not only is this a stand for the NAS, but it also has a cooling fan built in. The base simply snaps onto the bottom of the NAS and power is supplied through a standoff power connector in the base that plugs into a slot on the NAS. The NAS comes with a block off plate that needs to be removed before the power slot can be accessed though. The Thecus N0204 does get fairly warm during use, so it is a good thing this fan is included.
Looking at the business end of the Thecus N0204, we can see the pair of doors for the 2.5″ storage drives on either side. Between them are the GbE LAN port, USB 1.1 port for a USB printer, the gray power button, and power adapter port. We aren’t quite sure why Thecus used a USB 1.1 port here, but we can’t knock it as it was designed for a printer and the front of the NAS has a USB 2.0 on it for file transfers.
Flipping the device around we can take a good look on the front panel of the NAS. Here you will find the USB copy button and three activity lights (one for each hard drive and one for LAN activity). After the three activity lights is the power LED, which will glow blue when the unit is turned on. All the way to the right is the lone USB 2.0 port that is present for USB Flash drives and of course attaching external USB storage devices.
In order to access each drive tray you need to slide over the small tab on each tray to pop the door open. From there you can slide out the aluminum trays and you can install your storage drives.
For this article we will be using a pair of matching SSDs, which should be interesting as we have never used SSDs in a NAS before. We went with a pair of Kingston 40GB V Series Boot Drives as they are rather inexpensive and had great performance when we reviewed them in a previous article. Need to change one of the disk drives? No problem. Both are hot plug and hot swap capable, so you’ll be able to swap out a hard disk and plug in a new one without even powering off the unit!
To secure the hard drives to the trays use the eight screws (four per drive) that came with the drive. When that is done, just insert the drives back into their respective bays!
Now that the drives are in the NAS you can plug in the Ethernet cable and power adapter!