Transcoding 4K Media on the DS218play NAS Server?
Transcoding on a NAS such as the DS218play device is the ability for a multimedia file to be changed from it’s existing format or codec to one that is better suited to the destination device. In this file access, the DS218play NAS is the host device and the device you want to play the file is the client. Transcoding is typically required when a media file is more recently released than the client device that is accessing it, so the newer compression or playback format is unknown to the device you want to access it with. Alternatively, you want to access the movie or music on your DS218play and do not want to use the original file in its full size. Transcoding can enable you to stream a much smaller version in weight or resolution if needed.
Which client devices require transcoding from the DS218play NAS
Destination devices range greatly and are often referred to as the client device. Common client devices that your DS218play device will be accessed by are often:
- iPad or Android Tablet
- iPhone or Android Smartphone
- Smart TV or DLNA supported monitor
- Macbook, Laptop or Netbook device
- Sound systems such as Bose, Sonos and Sony DLNA systems
- Home Theatre Systems
- Network and internet-enabled gaming consoles such as PS4, Xbox One and Nvidia Shield
Transcoding between a DS218play and your media can be of tremendous benefit for those with limited internet bandwidth, download limits or low powered devices.
What are the Specifications of the DS218play NAS?
The specifications for the DS218play NAS are below and like all NAS devices, the CPU and Memory play a big part in how well it performs at transcoding. The key factors to consider are if the device features an x86 or ARM-based CPU, does the DS218play CPU feature a transcoding engine and how much RAM the device arrives with for multiple transcoding tasks. Below are the DS218play specs:
Realtek RTD1296 64-bit
Quad Core 1.4 GHz
1GB DDR3L Memory
2 Year Warranty
TRANSCODING ENGINE: YES
1080P Support: YES
4K Support: YES
Transcoding Support: YES
Where to Buy
What is the difference between H.264 and H.265 4K Media on a NAS
H.264 and H.265 are common codecs of modern digital media. H264 is also referred to as AVC by experts (Advanced Video Coding) and is considered the standard for video file compression. This allows for media originally created for large-scale entertainment to be recording, compressed, and distributed to the home and smaller scale production of digital video content watched by you, the consumer.
H265 is the newer and more consumer-friendly alternative to H264. It is also known as HEVC (High-Efficiency Video Coding) and was developed in order resolve issues of enormous 4K media files being just too large for your client device to playback. H.265 has become so popular and data saving that chances are that the YouTube clip, iTunes media or iPlayer content you watched was in .265 and HEVC. Typically a modern NAS such as the DS218play will playback with JUST H.265 or it will PLayback both H.264 and H.265. The latter pretty much being exclusive to x86 or AMD based NAS CPU devices.
What is the idle performance of the Synology DS218play NAS?
As a basis for comparison, here is the CPU and Memory use of the Synology DS218play NAS when it is left idle, no multimedia playback or transcoding (click to enlarge):
The DS218play NAS 4K H.265 8-bit 30fps 46Mb/s Test 1- How well does it perform?
We pushed the DS218play NAS to transcode a 4K H265 media file. It was an 8-bit recording, running at 30 frames per second and featured a bitrate of 46 megabits per second. The DS218play playback results were (click to enlarge):
The DS218play NAS 4K H.265 8-bit 25fps 38Mb/s Test 2 – How well does it perform?
Next, we pushed the DS218play NAS to transcode a 4K H265 media file. It was an 8-bit recording, but this time running at 25 frames per second and featured a bitrate of just 38 megabits per second. The DS218play playback results were (click to enlarge):
The DS218play NAS 4K H.265 10-bit 30fps 38Mb/s Test 7 – How well does it perform?
We then ran a much denser H.265 4K file on the DS218play. This H265 file was another 10-bit recording, at 30fps but this time with a much higher bitrate of 38 megabits per second. The DS218play playback results were (click to enlarge):
The DS218play NAS 4K H.265 10-bit 42fps 38Mb/s Test 8 – How well does it perform?
Test number 8 was an almost identical file to that of test 7, but this H.265 4K file on the DS218play featured a much higher frames per second count of 42fps. To confirm, this test was a 10-bit, 42fps h265 file at 42 frames per second. The DS218play playback results were (click to enlarge):
The DS218play NAS 4K H.265 10-bit 50fps 23Mb/s Test 9 – How well does it perform?
Moving it higher and higher, test 9 featured an even more punishing H.265 4K file on the DS218play. It featured the highest frames per second count yet at 50fps. To confirm, this test was a 10-bit, 50fps h265 file at 42 frames per second. The DS218play playback results were (click to enlarge):
The DS218play NAS 720p H.265 8-bit 24fps 1Mb Test 11 – How well does it perform?
In an effort to fully test the spectrum of the DS218play NAS and it’s transcoding, we wanted to also test HD Playback (to give the 4K results a sense of perspective). First up was 720p. This 720 HD file was another efficient H.265 8-bit file. It ran at 24fps and was just 1Mb in bitrate. The DS218play NAS performed as expected (given the earlier results):
The DS218play NAS 1080p AVC 8-bit 30fps 0.8Mb Test 12 – How well does it perform?
Next up we gave 1080p transcoding a try on the DS218play NAS. This AVC file (so H264 again) an 8-bit file running at a fluid 30fps. However, with a lower bitrate of just 0.8Mb, it should not have pushed the DS218play as much as earlier tests. The results for 1080 HD transcoding were (click to enlarge):
The DS218play NAS 1080p H.265 8-bit 24fps 405kb/s Test 10 – How well does it perform?
In an effort to maintain fairness, we also covered an H.265 1080p file, so a comparison between this and Test 12 could be made. Ignore the test numerical order numbers, as this needed to be re-done (blame the DS218play needing a firmware update mid transcode and therefore spoiled the results the first time). This was an HEVC/H265 8-bit file running at 24fps, but with a comparatively low bitrate of just 405kbps. The results (correct this time) were again, fairly expected (click to enlarge):
The DS218play NAS 4K H.265 10-bit 30fps 400Mb/s Test 14 – How well does it perform?
After the rather cursory tests of the HD files, we decided to really fire a big 4K file at the DS218play NAS for transcoding. This time we went in heavy with a less efficient H.265 (HEVC for those that forgot) 10-bit file, running at 30fps. The real killer was the 400Mb/s bitrate. How well did the DS218play NAS server cope with this 4k transcoding? Here are the results (click to enlarge):
I hope these 4K results were of use to you and this helps you consider which NAS you wish to you buy in 2018, whether it is the DS218play or something more or less suited to your needs.
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