The last Thecus NAS I reviewed was the N4100Pro back in January of 2009. Since then Thecus has come a LONG way on their NAS interface. The Thecus N5500 layout is nicely laid out and very intuitive. The configuration of the unit from first discovery to formatting the RAID was less than 15 minutes.
The N5500 is built very well. The fan on the back moves some air. With the unit on my desktop I found myself cleaning dust from the sides after running it for a week. The fan is loud compared to the one in the N4100Pro. The N4100Pro was made with home use in mind; the N5500 was made with enterprise in mind so low noise was low on the priority list. The fan is not horrid, but you’re not going to want it in the living room, that is for sure. Rather, off in the corner somewhere where noise is not an issue would be more appropriate. Overall, the performance of the N5500 is very nice. In my testing the real world file transfers to the N5500 come in at 52MB/s for uploads and 43MB/s download.
I have had this unit for several months, since just before the floods in Thailand. In that time hard drive prices have gone through the roof. When I purchased my five WD Caviar Green 1TB WD10EARS drives from NewEgg back in the first part of October I got them at $57 each; those same drives today cost $92 each. The five drives at today’s prices cost $460 plus shipping.
In the time that I have had the unit and been using it I did have one the hard drives die on me. The unit warned me of the drive failure and I was able to get a replacement drive before another drive failed. I found that getting the Thecus N5500 back up and running was as simple as getting a replacement drive and putting it in the unit. After I changed out the faulty drive the N5500 went ahead and rebuilt the RAID 5 array on its own and I was back up and running with full redundancy.
At today’s hard drive market price the setup like I have in this review will set you back $1,040. Now, before you get sticker shock, part of that is the hard drives. The Thecus N5500 has a $579.95 price tag, which is not too out of line for a 5 bay NAS with all the bells and whistles the N5500 has. If you wanted to fill it with higher capacity, a higher performance drive like a 2TB Caviar Black runs $269 each; you’re looking at $1,345 for just the set of 5 drives.
Legit Bottom Line: The Thecus N5500 NAS is a very nice little unit with tons of features at a reasonable price, but filling it at today’s hard drive costs puts hurt to the wallet.