Before we show you the Thecus N7700 in all its glory, we wanted to give you a glimpse of what's also included in the unit's retail package. Along with the device itself, users will find a basic printed user's manual, warranty and hard drive information cards, a standard power cable, an Ethernet cable, and two discs--one that includes a digital user's manual and a device discovery / installation utility called the Thecus Setup Wizard and another with a copy of DriveClone5 Pro, an easy to use file backup and drive cloning utility. We should note, that while DriveClone5 Pro is included with the Thecus N7700, that doesn't preclude the use of other automated backup utilities.
In addition to the items mentioned above, the N7700 also includes 7 removable hard drive trays. In order to use standard SATA 3.5" hard drives (or 2.5" drives using 3.5" adapters sold separately) with the N7700, users are required to mount the drives into these trays before inserting them into the device. They have easy-removal handles and locking mechanisms for simplicity and security as well.
Which brings us to the Thecus N7700 itself. As you can see, the device has a mini-tower like footprint with a hinged and vented door on the front, adjacent to the power switch and two USB ports. Just below the door are an LCD which displays heath and status information about the device and its RAID array, and a quartet of buttons that can be used for basic configuration of the N7700 when users don't have access to a PC to access the unit's browser-based configuration menus.
The status indicator LEDs show power status (Blue), system status (system busy [blink orange] / fail [blink red]), hard drive activity (orange / red), WAN connection status (link green, activity orange), LAN connection status (link green, activity orange), USB activity (Blue), and eSATA activity (Blue). And the LCD displays information like the time and date, LAN and WAN IP address, and drive health and status.
The top and sides of the N7700 are bare metal panels, but there is a lot to see on the rear. On the back side of the unit you'll see two cooling fans, two RJ45 LAN jacks, an eSATA port, a serial port, an expansion slot, and the PSU cooling fan and cable jack.
During normal use in a home office environment, we found the N7700's cooling fans to be relatively quiet, but the unit most definitely is not silent. They do a good job of cooling the unit and drives though, as the unit always remained cool to the touch, even with 7 drives installed.
The serial port can be used to connect a compatible batter backup device, and the USB and eSATA ports can be used to connect additional drives beyond the seven internal units. Drives connected to the external ports appear as additional shared volumes when navigating the N7700 folders.