What is the Best Synology 4-Bay NAS – DS918+ vs DS418play vs DS418 vs DS418j

Choosing the Right 4-Bay Synology NAS to Buy

With sales time almost upon us, many buyers are looking to buy a new Synology NAS. Whether you are buying your first NAS server, or you are upgrading your pre-existing Network Attached Storage device, there are a great many advantages to investing in a solid 4-Bay NAS solution. Notwithstanding the obvious advantages that being able to populate it with a larger number of drives than a simple 2-Bay NAS, there are a host of other reasons including but not limited to:

  • Better Hardware internally compared with two bay NAS as there is more room to fill and often much better memory options
  • Increased Air Flow to keep things cool in the larger chassis space
  • More space for extra options like SSD caching
  • Better support in terms of max-users in the Synology DSM software applications
  • Better external Connections and quantities to access your DATA directly
  • Better expansion options and often able to connect a NAS Expansion unit such as the DX517
  • Much higher Read and Writes/ Uploads and Downloads thanks to greater LAN port access numbers
  • Often lower in price comparatively as you can achieve higher storage volume capacities in a RAID 5 across 3 or more drives, than the 50% capacity loss of RAID 1.bla

However, knowing you want to buy a Synology NAS 4-Bay is just the beginning. The official specifications for each NAS are published by Synology , but that are page after page of complex data and you can soon get confused about how each 4 HDD NAS is different, and what exactly means good and what means bad. Whether you are looking for a bargain this Black Friday, Cyber Monday, Boxing day or even a January sale purchase, Synology is often regarded as one of the best brands in NAS and therefore many will see their units first and then get a little lost amongst the range. Today we will compare all of the current 4-Bay Synology NAS servers you can buy and find out the which is the best NAS for you?

Which Synology NAS is the best for Price?

The cost of a NAS server can often be the biggest decider on choosing the right Synology NAS for your needs. Prices start out as low as £250+ ex.VAT and go up as high as £450+ ex.VAT – and that is before you have even installed a single Hard Drive or SSD. So for many, the price tag is very important. Perhaps you go for the cheapest NAS and hope for the best, or you buy long-term and go for the most expensive – either way, what you want is VALUE for money! In terms of price vs hardware, the Synology DS418play is the outright winner as it provides solid hardware inside to support common features like Apple Time Machine, Plex, DLNA, 4K Playback, Transcoding, Office applications and more. Whereas if your budget is small or a little tight, then you can always consider the DS418J as even though it is rather low in price, the hardware inside is still pretty good for comprehensive RAID storage, DLNA media servers, download servers, mail services, files storage and Surveillance.


What is the best Synology NAS for Software?

All Synology NAS server devices arrive with the award-winning DSM (Diskstation Manager) currently in version 6.1 (with DSM 6.2 in beta). But the extent to which they perform is where you will need to be selective about the Synology NAS 4-Bay that you choose. As mentioned, they all have a basic level of support for the traditional areas of network storage like Media, Backups, File Distribution, Surveillance, Encryption and Internet Access – but with each device tier (first J, then Standard, then Play, then Plus) then maximum number of users, tasks, resolution, instructions and operational density increases. So it goes, that the more you want to do with the NAS and the more users you want to access the NAS, the more you will need to pay. Once again, the DS418play is the sweet spot for those who want all the options on a lower budget BUT just spending a little more and getting the Synology DS918+ will ensure you get a NAS that can pretty much do ANYTHING that the Synology DSM software can offer.

Choosing the Right Synology 4-Bay NAS Based on Performance

Second, only to NAS price, the performance of a 4-Bay NAS will be one of the biggest things affecting your NAS purchase. The Hardware under the bonnet of each NAS will greatly affect the overall performance of the NAS server for the tasks you have in mind. Of these units, it is clear very early on that it is the Plus series DS918+ NAS has the greatest CPU and RAM options available. This coupled with the ability to expand that memory in the NAS from 4GB upto 8GB is a welcome option to those that want to upgrade a NAS years into its lifespan. There is a reason it is considered the top dog of the Synology 4-Bay NAS pack for 2017 and 2018.

That said, you should not overlook the cheap NAS at the end of the line as they all do still feature at least 1-2GB of DDR4 RAM and an impressive new Realtek 64-Bit ARM CPU in Qual core (DS418) and Dual Core (DS418j). This does mean that they are unsuitable for Plex Media Servers in terms of transcoding HD and 4K media, as well as VMware and Virtualisation in general, but still never skip them if you need a solid, robust NAS that can perform traditional Network Attached Storage tasks and DLNA NAS services in your home or office. Finally, there is the Synology DS418play that manages to provide the best of both worlds in a well-performing CPU from Intel and 2gB of DDR3 Memory. The DS418play should be your middle ground NAS when deciding between home and business needs.

Which Synology 4-Bay NAS is the best for Connectivity in 2017 and 2018?

As mentioned earlier, buying your first 4-Bay NAS opens up a larger degree of connections and how you access your NAS data. Once again, it is unsurprising that the most expensive NAS is the Best NAS in this field.

Featuring dual LAN ports to provide Link Aggregation (that can double your transmission speeds if you own a smart switch from Netgear or a LAG enabled router), comprehensive USB 3.0 ports to connect several external devices at 5GB/s speeds and eSATA at 6GB/s. However, if you choose to buy a Synology NAS such as the DS418J or DS418.

Then you will see reductions on all these fields and if direct NAS access is a deal-breaker for you, then you would be wise to spend the extra and for a Synology PLUS series NAS. Once again, consider the DS418play the middle of the pack on this and one to buy if you are having difficulty deciding. Lastly, in the Synology 4-Bay or NAS range, the key thing to look for is an eSATA port as that is how the Synology 5-Bay expansion DX517 NAS connects and this is possible with only 1 of the Synology Desktop 4 Bay NAS server devices, the Synology DS918+ NAS. Hence the 9 in the title.

Which Synology 4-Bay Diskstation NAS consumes the most power and makes the most noise?

Network Attached Storage devices can be left on for days, weeks, months and (though not advised without the occasional restart) years! This can mean that for many users (especially Home users, but not limited to just them) that NAS power consumption can be an important factor. Four Bay NAS on paper consume more power than their 1 and 2 Bay brother and sisters, however, once you take into account the amount of power consumed by a number of Drives and via multiple LAN access, the power used is quite relative. Obviously, the higher the CPU frequency, the number of cores and the amount of RAM plays a big factor, as does the drives you use. All the stats shown are for filling the boxes below with 4x 1TB WD Red WD10EFRX drives and the results are quite telling. However, it should be clear that he more budget-friendly NAS is lower in power consumption due to their hardware being less demanding. If however, you want full capability at the lowest power consumption possible in a Synology 4 Bay NAS, I have no hesitation in recommending the Synology DS418play NAS, as it gives a good balance of Power vs Consumption.

Which Synology NAS is the best for a Plex Media Server?

All four of the new Synology 4-Bay NAS server devices can act as a Plex Media Server, with performance being a little choppier on the Synology DS418j. However, the big, BIG difference is the ability to transcode. When streaming media over the internet from your NAS device, to your iPhone or iPad via Plex, sometimes the files you play are going to be too big to play, an incompatible format or with a resolution incompatible with the viewing device. A NAS such as the DS418PLAY or DS918+ has the transcoding engine on board so it can make these changes on the fly for you. However, the DS418J and DS418 do not have this in their hardware and therefore are less suitable for an ideal Plex Media Server NAS.

Which Synology NAS is best for 4K Media, 1080p Streaming and Transcoding?

The good news is that the DS418J, DS418, DS418play and DS918+ NAS all can stream 1080p and audio media via DLNA to your Smart TV, iPhone, iPod, iPad, PS4, PS3, Xbox, Sonos, Bose and more. However, after this, the performance of each NAS changes. Only the DS418, DS418play and DS918+ can playback and transcode 4K media (with the DS918+ being able to playback H.264 and H.265). Which brings us to transcoding dense 4K, which is only possible via the DS418play and DS918+ NAS servers. And finally, the outright winner is the Synology DS918+ NAS (shocking, I know) because it can do two 4K streams, where the DS418play can only do the one. So, via a process of ‘America’s Got Talent’ esc elimination, we can see that the best 4-Bay NAS for 4K, 1080p, streaming and transcoding is the Synology DS918+.


Which Synology NAS is best for Warranty and Support?

Pretty simple one here. Synology has locations worldwide and often the handling of your RMA can be done with your local distribution centre. When buying with SPAN.COM for your NAS, they will assist you with Pre and Post sales technical support and both they and Synology have a fairly fast turn around and will assist you with their technical team. However the length of the manufacturer’s warranty is the same on the DS418j, DS418 and DS418play at 2 years and if that isn’t enough for your peace of mind, you can go for the DS918+ NAS which arrives with 3 Years of warranty.

What are the Specifications of the Synology DS918+, DS418Play, DS418 and DS418j NAS?

Synology 4-Bay NAS Comparison 2017 / 2018

  DS418

£340+ ex.VAT

DS418j

£250+ ex.VAT

DS418play

£390+ ex.VAT

DS918+

£450+ ex.VAT

 
CPU Model Realtek RTD1296 Realtek RTD1293 Intel Celeron J3355 Intel Celeron J3455
CPU Architecture 64-bit 64-bit 64-bit 64-bit
CPU Frequency Quad Core 1.4 GHz Dual Core 1.4 GHz Dual Core 2.0 burst up to 2.5 GHz Quad Core 1.5 burst up to 2.3 GHz
Hardware Encryption Engine 256bit YES YES    
Hardware Encryption Engine (AES-NI)     YES YES
Hardware Transcoding Engine 10-bit H.265 (HEVC), MPEG-4 Part 2, MPEG-2, VC-1; maximum resolution: 4K (4096 x 2160); maximum frame rate per second (FPS): 30 NO TRANSCODING H.264 (AVC), H.265 (HEVC), MPEG-2 and VC-1; maximum resolution: 4K (4096 x 2160); maximum frame rate per second (FPS): 30 H.264 (AVC), H.265 (HEVC), MPEG-2 and VC-1; maximum resolution: 4K (4096 x 2160); maximum frame rate per second (FPS): 30
Memory
System Memory 2 GB DDR4 1 GB DDR4 2 GB DDR3L 4 GB DDR3L
Memory Module Pre-installed     2GB (1 x 2GB) 4GB (1 x 4GB)
Total Memory Slots     2 2
Memory Expandable up to     6 GB (2 GB + 4 GB) 8 GB (4 GB x 2)
Storage
Drive Bays 4 4 4 4
Maximum Drive Bays with Expansion Unit       9
M.2 Drive Slots       2
Maximum Internal Raw Capacity 48 TB (12 TB drive x 4) (Capacity may vary by RAID types) 48 TB (12 TB drive x 4) (Capacity may vary by RAID types) 48 TB (12 TB drive x 4) (Capacity may vary by RAID types) 48 TB (12 TB drive x 4) (Capacity may vary by RAID types)
Maximum Raw Capacity with Expansion Units       108 TB (12 TB drive x 9) (Capacity may vary by RAID types)
Hot Swappable Drive YES   YES YES
External Ports
RJ-45 1GbE LAN Port 2 (with Link Aggregation / Failover support) 1 2 (with Link Aggregation / Failover support) 2 (with Link Aggregation / Failover support)
USB 3.0 Port 2 2 2 2
eSATA Port       1
File System
Internal Drives EXT4 EXT4 Btrfs

EXT4

Btrfs

EXT4

Appearance
Size (Height x Width x Depth) 166 mm x 199 mm x 223 mm  184 mm x 168 mm x 230 mm  166 mm x 199 mm x 223 mm  166 mm x 199 mm x 223 mm 
Weight 2.28 kg  2.21 kg  2.23 kg  2.28 kg 
Others
System Fan 92 mm x 92 mm x 2 pcs 80 mm x 80 mm x 2 pcs 92 mm x 92 mm x 2 pcs 92 mm x 92 mm x 2 pcs
Brightness adjustable front LED indicators YES YES YES YES
Power Recovery YES YES YES YES
Noise Level* 20.9 dB(A)  20.6 dB(A)  20.5 dB(A)  19.8 dB(A) 
Scheduled Power On/Off YES YES YES YES
Wake on LAN/WAN YES YES YES YES
Power Supply Unit / Adapter 90W  90W  90W  100W 
Power Consumption* 26.49 W (Access)
8.78 W (HDD Hibernation) 
21.22 W (Access)
8.97 W (HDD Hibernation) 
29.01 W (Access)
5.57 W (HDD Hibernation) 
28.8 W (Access)
12.6 W (HDD Hibernation) 
Warranty 2 Years 2 Years 2 Years 3 Years
Storage Management
Maximum Internal Volume Number 256 256 256 512
Maximum iSCSI Target Number 10 10 32 32
Maximum iSCSI LUN 10 10 256 256
iSCSI LUN Clone/Snapshot, Windows ODX     YES YES
Supported RAID Type Synology

Hybrid RAID Basic JBOD

RAID 0

RAID 1

RAID 5

RAID 6

RAID 10

Synology

Hybrid RAID Basic JBOD

RAID 0

RAID 1

RAID 5

RAID 6

RAID 10

Synology

Hybrid RAID Basic JBOD

RAID 0

RAID 1

RAID 5

RAID 6

RAID 10

Synology

Hybrid RAID Basic JBOD

RAID 0

RAID 1

RAID 5

RAID 6

RAID 10

SSD Read/Write Cache(White Paper)       YES
SSD TRIM YES YES YES YES
File Sharing Capacity
Maximum Local User Accounts 2048 1024 2048 2048
Maximum Shared Folder 256 256 256 512
Maximum Shared Folder Sync Tasks 4 2 4 8
Maximum Concurrent CIFS/AFP/FTP Connections 200 100 200 1000
Windows Access Control List (ACL) Integration YES YES YES YES
NFS Kerberos Authentication YES YES YES YES
High Availability Manager       YES
Log Center        
Syslog Events per Second 100 100 400 800
Virtualization
VMware vSphere 6 with VAAI       YES
Windows Server 2012       YES
Windows Server 2012 R2       YES
Citrix Ready       YES
OpenStack       YES

 

Antivirus by McAfee (Trial)     YES YES
Central Management System       YES
Chat YES YES YES YES
Maximum Users 500 10 1000 1500
Cloud Station Server YES YES YES YES
Maximum Number of Concurrently Connected Devices 200 100 200 1000
Maximum Number of Concurrently Connected Devices (with RAM expansion)     300 2000
Maximum Number of Synced Files (btrfs)     1,000,000 / single file reaction time 834 ms 1,000,000 / single file reaction time 744 ms
Maximum Number of Synced Files (ext4) 100,000 / single file reaction time 766 ms 100,000 / single file reaction time 789 ms 1,000,000 / single file reaction time 484 ms 1,000,000 / single file reaction time 630 ms
Document Viewer       YES
Download Station YES YES YES YES
Maximum Concurrent Download Tasks 30 30 80 80
MailPlus / MailPlus Server     YES YES
Free Email Accounts     (Licenses required for additional accounts) (Licenses required for additional accounts)
Recommended MailPlus Client Number     Up to 45 (Btrfs) / 45 (ext4) Up to 90 (Btrfs) / 90 (ext4)
Maximum Server Performance     181,000 (Btrfs) / 194,000 (ext4) emails per day, approx. 5.5 GB (Btrfs) / 5.9 GB (ext4) 840,000 (Btrfs) / 1,014,000 (ext4) emails per day, approx. 25.6 GB (Btrfs) / 30.9 GB (ext4)
Media Server YES YES YES YES
DLNA Compliance YES YES YES YES
Office YES YES YES YES
Maximum Users 100 10 200 200
Maximum Simultaneous Editing Users 30 10 60 80
Snapshot Replication     YES YES
Maximum Snapshots per Shared Folder     1024 1024
Maximum Snapshots of all Shared Folder     65536 65536
Surveillance Station        
Maximum IP cam (Licenses required) 30 (including 2 Free License) (See All Supported IP Cameras) 16 (including 2 Free License) (See All Supported IP Cameras) 25 (including 2 Free License) (See All Supported IP Cameras) 40 (including 2 Free License) (See All Supported IP Cameras)
Total FPS (H.264)* 900 FPS @ 720p (1280×720)
300 FPS @ 1080p (1920×1080)
240 FPS @ 3M (2048×1536)
150 FPS @ 5M (2591×1944)
110 FPS @ 4K (3840×2160)
480 FPS @ 720p (1280×720)
240 FPS @ 1080p (1920×1080)
150 FPS @ 3M (2048×1536)
100 FPS @ 5M (2591×1944) 
750 FPS @ 720p (1280×720)
375 FPS @ 1080p (1920×1080)
250 FPS @ 3M (2048×1536)
200 FPS @ 5M (2591×1944)
120 FPS @ 4K (3840×2160)
1200 FPS @ 720p (1280×720)
840 FPS @ 1080p (1920×1080)
550 FPS @ 3M (2048×1536)
300 FPS @ 5M (2591×1944)
180 FPS @ 4K (3840×2160)
Total FPS (H.265)* 900 FPS @ 720p (1280×720)
450 FPS @ 1080p (1920×1080)
360 FPS @ 3M (2048×1536)
250 FPS @ 5M (2591×1944)
180 FPS @ 4K (3840×2160)
  750 FPS @ 720p (1280×720)
750 FPS @ 1080p (1920×1080)
450 FPS @ 3M (2048×1536)
250 FPS @ 5M (2591×1944)
200 FPS @ 4K (3840×2160)
1200 FPS @ 720p (1280×720)
1200 FPS @ 1080p (1920×1080)
900 FPS @ 3M (2048×1536)
550 FPS @ 5M (2591×1944)
300 FPS @ 4K (3840×2160)
Total FPS (MJPEG)* 300 FPS @ 720p (1280×720)
200 FPS @ 1080p (1920×1080)
130 FPS @ 3M (2048×1536)
80 FPS @ 5M (2591×1944)
224 FPS @ 720p (1280×720)
150 FPS @ 1080p (1920×1080)
100 FPS @ 3M (2048×1536)
60 FPS @ 5M (2591×1944)
450 FPS @ 720p (1280×720)
250 FPS @ 1080p (1920×1080)
160 FPS @ 3M (2048×1536)
130 FPS @ 5M (2591×1944)
720 FPS @ 720p (1280×720)
500 FPS @ 1080p (1920×1080)
330 FPS @ 3M (2048×1536)
200 FPS @ 5M (2591×1944)
Video Station YES YES YES YES
Video Transcoding 4K Group 3 (See more) Group 2 (See more) 4K Group 1 (See more) 4K Group 1 (See more)
Maximum Transcoding Channel Number
  • 1 channel, 30 FPS @ 4K (4096 x 2160), H.265 (HEVC), 10-bit or
    1 channel, 30 FPS @ 1080p (1920×1080), H.264 (AVC)/H.265 (HEVC)/MPEG-4 Part 2 (XVID, DIVX5)/MPEG-2/VC-1
 
  • 2 channel, 30 FPS @ 4K (4096 x 2160), H.264 (AVC)/H.265 (HEVC) or
    2 channel, 30 FPS @ 1080p (1920×1080), H.264 (AVC)/H.265 (HEVC)/MPEG-2/VC-1
  • 2 channel, 30 FPS @ 4K (4096 x 2160), H.264 (AVC)/H.265 (HEVC) or
    2 channel, 30 FPS @ 1080p (1920×1080), H.264 (AVC)/H.265 (HEVC)/MPEG-2/VC-1
VPN Server YES YES YES YES
Maximum Connections 15 5 20 20

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