The Synology DS218 NAS is here and is it worth your time?
When Synology started releasing all of their two-bay NAS devices at the same time, it was always going to lead to a lot of market confusion and saturation. Over the past three to four months we’ve seen the entire too hard drive NAS series from Synology land here at the NASCompares and they have been a very impressive lineup. We’ve seen all powerful 4K and virtual machine network attached storage become very affordable. As well as more cost-effective NAS servers making network attached storage truly accessible to those with even a £100+ budget. But the very last 2-Bay NAS that Synology is releasing in their 2018 series is the DS218 Value Diskstation. With hardware that seems suspiciously similar to other two-bay diskstation released in the closing stages of 2017, many of you are wondering if this is just a money grabbing opportunity or a truly useful NAS device. I’m pleased to confirm that the DS218 is more than just a money spinner and actually quite an interesting NAS. Like myself when I first heard about it, many of you may have written off this release before learning more about it and its place in the range. The real question for many of you is should you have held on and waited for the DS218 , or did you make the right move and buy bigger and better NAS last year.
The Synology DS218 NAS – Hardware
The Synology DS218 features a CPU and memory that have already premiered on other devices such as the DS118 and DS218play. This Realtek RTD1296 CPU is both a quad-core chip and 1.4GHz in frequency/clockspeed. Likewise, the chassis of this NAS has already been seen in the likes of the DS218+ and more. Once you start comparing this device against the DS218play you would be forgiven to think that this does not make a good choice. Arriving around £30 more expensive than the play Synology, where has that £30 extra gone in the construction of the Synology DS218. However, once you look closer at the hardware you start to see why this device exists.
The DS218 shows several things that aren’t present on the DS218play. For a start because it uses the same chassis as the more expensive ds218+, it features hot-swappable hard drive bays, better ventilation, a one-touch copy button over USB 3.0 to simplify and speed your backups, and finally the internal memory of the DS218 is 2GB of DDR4 memory – 2x that of the 1GB memory on the DS218play.
This memory increase alone almost makes up for the price difference, the introduction of the USB copy button and hot-swappable Drive bays to ensure that no downtime happens when exchanging hard drives in the event of failure or bigger drives, so this also more than makes up for any price difference between the DS218 and the DS218play.
In terms of ports alongside the USB 3.0 copy button, there are two more USB 3.0 ports on the rear for connecting external drives and making them network accessible. The chassis is kept lovely and cool with a completely controllable rear mounted ventilation fan that can have it on RPM lowered and heightened as you need. The only downside in terms of hardware and construction is the inclusion of a single LAN Port. I feel that this device could really have improved on the DS218 with dual LAN ports for link aggregation. That aside, though this is definitely a better unit in terms of hardware compared with the DS218play and DS218j NAS.
The Synology DS218 NAS – Software
In terms of software, this NAS is able to support most of the common software and apps available on the DSM platform from Synology. The big Synology apps announced last year such as Synology Drive, Synology moments, new and improved Synology office, and finally, Synology chat is all available and are supported fully. Likewise, a host or third-party applications that Synology has become famous for are supported too. However, it is worth noting that this unit is unsuitable for virtual machines (VMs) as the CPU is not complex enough. Also, this device does not support Plex even when installed unofficially with an older file – this is not the fault of Synology but more that Plex has yet to develop an app that will run on this brand new Realtek CPU. Those two factors aside, the Synology DS218 can stand up against the big boys easily!
In terms of multimedia, this device supports 4K playback as well as being able to transcode both 4K and 1080p at 10 bit H.265 format. It does not support h264, but most modern 4K and 1080p productions no longer use this codec so this is less of a problem than it would appear. Additionally, the DS218 NAS supports the very latest hard drives and SSD. With NAS hard drives arriving at 10TB and 12TB from WD and Seagate , you are looking at some serious storage potential. Of course, do remember that this unit supports RAID 0, RAID 1, JBOD and SHR. For those that don’t know, SHR or ‘Synology Hybrid RAID’ is by far one of the best RAID levels available and is a fluid RAID that let you use different drives of different capacities Brand and size. Definitely a recommendation for those that want to upscale their drives at a later date.
For surveillance, the DS218 is very suitable for home and business, in as it can support up to 15 IP cameras via the popular surveillance station software that arrives completely for free in this unit (via the app center) along with two camera licences. Finally, the DS218 arrives with two years of manufacturer’s warranty.
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