The N0503’s packaging is rather simple and unglamorous, but that’s not a bad thing so long as it does its job of keeping the contents safe in transit.

01 Thecus N0503 ComboNAS

The N0503 is outwardly similar to some older 3-bay models from Thecus, the key being is the bezel.

02 Thecus N0503 ComboNAS

The following items are included with the N0503:

  • Power adapter and cable
  • 6 x 3.5″ drive mounting rails
  • 20 x 2.5″ drive mounting screws
  • 2.5″ drive bay
  • Cat 5e cable
  • Intel Atom decal
  • Quick Installation Guide
  • Utility CD
  • Warranty Card
  • HDD Compatibility List Card

14 Thecus N0503 ComboNAS19 Thecus N0503 ComboNAS10 Thecus N0503 ComboNAS

To save space, the 2.5″ drive bay comes installed in the N0503. Everything you need to get started is in the box, which is a good thing.

05 Thecus N0503 ComboNAS

The entire front bezel is a plastic door that swings open to reveal the drive bay. Unfortunately, the door is a rather flimsy affair. To make matters worse, it is secured only by a small plastic catch that looks like it would break easily.

Apart from this, we have no other complaints about the N0503’s exterior, the majority of which is aluminum.

04 Thecus N0503 ComboNAS

Running along the bottom are activity indicators for both Ethernet ports and each of the disk drives. The little square window on the left seems to be for an infrared receiver, but we couldn’t find any mention of this in the manual.

To the right is the power button, flanked by four other buttons. The power button is only accessible by opening the front door, which prevents accidental operation.

Unfortunately, the functionality of the other four buttons seems rather contrived – the up and down buttons can be used to cycle through system information on the vacuum fluorescent display, but this happens automatically anyway.

20 Thecus N0503 ComboNAS

The only use of the escape button is to escape from an accidental press of the power button or enter button. Only the latter, which performs one touch backup from any attached USB storage device to a preset folder on the NAS, is truly useful and we would prefer it if Thecus simply got rid of the rest.

06 Thecus N0503 ComboNAS

All of the N0503’s connectivity is located behind save for one USB port, which is rather awkwardly placed behind the front bezel (see earlier picture).

The N0503 also supports link aggregation (a.k.a. port trunking) by virtue of its dual Gigabit Ethernet ports. This is a nice-to-have feature if you have the network equipment to make use of it, and one we weren’t really expecting.

Closer inspection of the manual reveals that the USB ports aren’t just for backup purposes. Plug in a WLAN adapter, and you can connect the N0503 to your network wirelessly. But since this would impact performance considerably, plugging in a printer and having the N0503 act as a print server is probably the better option.

A single 80mm fan cools the hard drives and system components. To our dismay, the fan on our review unit made a rather annoying buzzing noise.