Choosing Between the Synology DS920+ and QNAP TS-464 NAS is more than just about how you are spending your money at checkout! Making the move away from 3rd public cloud storage can be a big, BIG decision for some users. The ‘freemium’ and low cost monthly subscription to the likes of Google Drive and DropBox seems like a drop in the ocean, right up until you realise that over the years you have spent hundreds of pounds and you face the fact that you are going to need to consider moving that data onto something more long term and ‘in house’. For many users, this is their first encounter with two of the bigger brands in the world of NAS, Synology and QNAP and although at a glance they seem t provide the same kind of solution, even a brief second glance reveals that these two brands have very, very different ideas of where you should be spending your money. Synology is the sleek, apple-esc presented solution that promises a smooth and uncomplex experience, with an arguably more rigid and fixed architecture. Whereas QNAP is the more customizable and flexible in its hardware and software, but has a slightly higher learning curve and requires more time to configure perfectly. Both brands provide an excellent range of NAS solutions with each of the solutions in today’s comparison being quite similar in price, but what you are getting for your money, the range of software included, the scope of hardware that is available and how they translate to upgradable and scalability is incredibly different! So, today we are going to compare the Synology DS920+ NAS released in 2020 (but still a firm favourite now) against the newly released QNAP TS-464 NAS.
Synology DS920+ vs QNAP TS-464 NAS – Design
The design of the QNAP TS-464 and Synology DS920+ are both very uniform to the brands, utilizing existing designs in their respective Home/Prosumer/SMB ranges. Both are 4-Bay desktop solutions that are designed to be deployed easily and pretty much anywhere. They are largely the same in physical volume, with the Synology DS920+ arriving the tiniest pinch larger, but both systems provide a similar level of storage on their four SATA and 2x NVMe M.2 SSD bays. The Synology has the more traditional shape of the lockable storage media bays being immediately visible, but finish this with an incredibly modernistic shape and matt surface design. The front of the system features a single USB backup port, as well as 5 LEDs for system/drive activity and those two M.2 SSD bays are located on the base of the system. The QNAP TS-464 NAS uses a more glossy and slightly coloured design by comparison (featuring a copper side panel), with the 4 drive bays of the system being covered by a slidable and lockable semi-translucent panel. The QNAP also featured the same LED/USB present, but there are more LEDs on the QNAP and the USB here is both a USB 3.2 Gen 2 Port (10Gb/s) and is accompanied by a one-touch copy button. This is one of the early examples of how things in the NAS market have moved forward in the 2 years between these two being released and won’t be the last. The QNAP TS-464 is certainly the more expensive NAS of the two, with the DS920+ being in the market longer and with a greater degree of price flexibility in 2022, but the hardware yo uare getting for that price tag is notably different and will become a clear divide between these two. Because of the compact design, both systems need to factor in intelligent cooling, as they will likely be in operation 24×7. This is another clear area where the brands have gone in different directions here.
|QNAP TS-464 NAS
168mm × 170mm × 226 mm
|Synology DS920+ NAS
166 mm x 199 mm x 223 mm
The ventilation on the Synology DS920+ is certainly more visible but in a much more ‘branded’ and slick way. The QNAP TS-464 features no front-facing ventilation, instead using two small areas of ventilation on the sides of the chassis and the base of the TS-464 featuring further ventilation under each of the storage bays. The Synology on the other hand has much more passive airflow, with each of the individual storage bays being surrounded by a slit of ventilation and the side panel of the DS920+ having the Synology logo featured as further ventilation. Higher-end Synology desktop models feature metal mesh panels inside these logos to capture dust, but this is less of a concern in the more compact and discreet DS920+. Overall, I would certainly say that the Synology DS920+ have more visible efforts to maintain system temperature than the QNAP TS-464 (which is a real surprise when you see how the hardware these two systems are sporting compares) but both maintain a good operation temperature.
|QNAP TS-464 NAS||Synology DS920+ NAS|
When you look at the rear of the TS-464 and DS920+ NAS, you see another big difference in how each system maintains their respective internal temperatures, with the QNAP featuring a single 120mm fan that covers the bulk of the internal hardware airflow path and the Synology featuring two 92mm fans that cover around 70% of the rear of the chassis. Of the two, I would say the QNAP TS-464 is the noisier in operation of the two (when populated with 4x 4TB WD Red HDDs) by the tiniest of margins, but it isn’t really till you entertain the idea of enterprise HDDs or drives larger than 10TB that you need to worry about ambient sound around these two systems. Both the DS920+ and TS-464 can have the rotations per minute (RPM) of their fans changed manually or left oN automatic as the system changes the internal cooling to ensure maximum efficiency.
|QNAP TS-464 NAS||Synology DS920+ NAS|
Overall, the design of the Synology DS920+ is still the better-looking system of the two and although I personally really like the copper and glossy look of the QNAP TS-464 NAS, I know that the bulk of users will want to ‘set up and forget’ their NAS, so these aesthetic design choices are less important to them. Equally, although the QNAP fan has the potential to cool its respective system much more, I think the Synology features a better balance of active airflow and passive ventilation overall. The QNAP still wins pretty big on its inclusion of a USB 3.2 Gen 2 One Touch Copy button enabled port for faster and more manual backup options (as well as still allow automated and connection-triggered backups as the Synology), but overall on points, this round belongs to the Synology DS920+ NAS.
This is an area where you really see how both brands focus their priorities on the solutions they offer, as well as how the components common to NAS have evolved in the 2 years between their respective releases. The Synology DS920+ arrives with a familiar architecture to it’s predecessor and is a fairly tried and tested formula by the brand. Synology was the first company to introduce NVMe SSD storage bays into desktop NAS systems around 4 years ago (something that QNAP has only really been catching up on in the last year and a half). Likewise, Synology has made a few very brand-specific decisions in their system architecture that this rather more proprietary brand is often keen to implement. For example, the default DDR4 memory inside (2666Mhz SODIMM) is actually soldered to the main internal board (4x 1GB Modules), with an additional empty memory slot to allow an additional 4GB Synology-branded memory module. As the DS920+ have a CPU that has a maximum 8GB of memory, this is not really any barrier or issue, but still, an odd move that is perhaps done out of system PCI/Bandwidth, rather than any kind of restriction. The QNAP features a newer gen CPU (as you would expect after the later release) and this CPU allows up to 16GB of memory (4GB in the default model) across two upgradable slots. Likewise, returning to those M.2 NVMe slots, both system feature 2 bays that can be used for SSD storage upgrades, although both the DS920+ and TS-464 support SSD caching (when a pool of SSDs is used to speed up data write/read in conjunction with the larger HDD RAID array), the QNAP is the only one that also allows this to be used as a standalone storage pool and volumes. This is the first of several key differences between the QNAP TS-464 and Synology DS920+ NAS that show the divide in hardware between these units.
|Price||£559 $650 €675||£508 $549 €569|
|Storage Media Support||4x SATA, 2x m.2 NVMe 3×1||4x SATA, 2x NVMe SSD Cache Bays|
|CPU Model||Intel N5105/N5095||Intel J4125|
|CPU Frequency & Cores||Quad-Core 2.0-2.9Ghz||Quad-Core 2.0-2.7Ghz|
|CPU Benchmark Score||CPU benchmark 4161||CPU benchmark 3006|
|Memory Default/Max||4-16GB SODIMM DDR4||4-8GB SODIMM DDR4 (4GB onboard)|
|PSU Power & Design||90W External PSU||100W External PSU|
|Physical Fans||1x 120m FAN||2x 92m FAN|
Of course, the clearest difference that most PC builder minded people are going to notice is the CPU. NAS systems are designed to be operational for days, weeks, months and even years at a time. Therefore, in order to maintain optimal performance, as well as lower power consumption and lessen the damage that long term operation can inflict on a processor, the CPUs used in NAS are a great deal more modest. In the case of the Synology DS920+ and QNAP TS-464 NAS, they feature Intel Celeron processors, each featuring an embedded graphics component (allowing graphical operations, multimedia handling and visual data to be handled by a specialized area of the processor), quad-core architecture and a base level clock speed of 2.0Ghz that can be burst (turbo/increased when needed). However, the newer generation N5105/N5095 CPU in the QNAP is able to reach a higher overall clock speed and also is more efficient (i.e uses a little less hardware resources to get a task done than it would take on the J4125 typically, so, therefore, can do more tasks overall when the full CPU power is utilized). Indeed, CPUBenchmark rated the newer CPU 30%+ higher in it’s scoring than the J4125 (again, as you would expect for a CPU released more than a year later by Intel), so this processor means that more can be done on the QNAP (in like for like tasks) and also this CPU allows a greater range of hardware to be built into the system. CPUs are one of the largest quantifying factors of how a NAS is built and this is because they can only handle a certain amount of connected hardware (storage bays, ports, expansion slots, etc) when connected to a larger controller/mother board. This is commonly referred to as the # of PCI lanes and the chipset used in the build of the system. Because this newer Intel N5105 / N5095 CPU has more lanes to use at once than the J4125, it allows the newer NAS drive to have more hardware.
QNAP TS-464 NAS – Intel N5105/N5095 CPU
|Synology DS920+ NAS – Intel J4125 CPU
These additional CPU resources, as well as the increased maximum memory and flexibility of how the M.2 NVMe SSD slots can be used ultimately mean that in terms of internal hardware, the newer released QNAP TS-464 wins over the Synology DS920+ NAS. It is worth remembering that the M.2 NVMe SSD slots on the QNAP TS-464 are PCIe Gen 3 x1 (down to the Celeron CPU still not having anywhere near the scope in it’s flexibility that the likes of an Intel Core, Ryzen or Xeon might have) and will bottleneck at 1,000MB/s, but this is still better than nothing and as these slots are still only used for caching in the DS920+ (with the likelihood that these slots are PCIe 2×4, 3×1 or 3×2 at the most), the QNAP still seems to have a better balance of NVMe SSD support in it’s architecture overall.
Now ports and connections on the Synology DS920+ and QNAP TS-464 NAS is an area that is INCREDIBLY diverse in it’s approach by either brand. Once again, the reasons are clearly to do with that CPU revision being so different in the two years between either system being released, but also the brand’s own decisions in build architecture/priorities still massively continues to be a contributing factor here. The Synology DS920+ NAS certainly comes across as the weaker of the two here in its connectivity and although a lot of the QNAP’s advancements in connectivity could be described as ‘future upgrades and simply facilitating extras or addons’, it still manages to provide a greater deal of connectivity to the day 1 user than the Synology system here. The port(s) that almost certainly will be the one that jumps out immediately on each system is the network connections. The DS920+ NAS arrives with 2x 1GbE ports which, although allowing link aggregation to create 2GbE with a smart switch, was still a little underwhelming even in 2022 (as we had already started seeing 2.5GbE arriving at the same price as 1GbE with a number of client hardware devices). The newer QNAP TS-464 features 2x 2.5GbE (so 5GbE via link aggregation and a supported switch) which now that some ISPs and budget switch manufacturers are providing affordable 2.5GbE solutions, will be incredibly useful. Then the is the additional PCIe upgrade slot on the QNAP NAS that allows upgrades towards 10GbE, dual-port 10GbE cards and even combo cards to add 10G and further M.2 NVMe bays via a single card. Again, there ARE upgrades and not something in the baseline model, but you can not argue with the future-proofing available here. Perhaps the next generation of the Synology 4-Bay series (a DS922+ or DS923+) will address this and add 2.5GbE, 10GbE or the option to add PCIe cards (Synology will always want to factor if the available SATA storage has the potential to even saturate that level of bandwidth to start with), but in the 2020 released DS920+, those 1GbE ports are something of a limiting factor.
|Network Ports||2x 2.5GbE||2x 1GbE|
|USB 3.2 Ports||2x USB 3.2 Gen 2 (10Gb)||2x USB 3.2 Gen 1 (5Gb)|
|USB 2.0 Ports||2x USB 2.0||1x eSATA Expansion Port|
|HDMI Ports||1x HDMI 2.0 4K 60FPS||n/a|
|PCIe Upgrade Slots||PCIe Gen 3×2 Slot (2Gb/s)||n/a|
After the network and PCIe differences that favour the TS-464, the distance between the 2020 and 2022 NAS here is further extended. The Synology DS920+ features a further USB 3.2 Gen 1 (5Gb/s) port and an eSATA expansion port that allows you to add an additional 5 Bays of storage by utilizing the DX517 official expansion. QNAP counters this on the TS-464 with the inclusion of another USB 3.2 Gen 2 (10Gb/s) port, as well as some (obviously less useful) USB 2.0 ports. These USB 2.0 Ports are primarily designed to be used in conjunction with the optional visual output (HDMI 2.0 4k 60FPS) on the QNAP as a KVM (Keyboard, video and mouse) setup with the included parallel HD Station application and its tool. The HDMI and direct interface of the QNAP is still pretty niche as a service on this system, but it has a number of useful multimedia, surveillance and VM utilities that can be quite impressive. Expansions on the TS-464 are more diverse than the 5-Bay DX517 on the DS920+, with QNAP offering 2, 4, 6, 8 and 12-Bay expansion chassis (arriving in JBOD or hardware RAID enabled) that connect over USB or an inclusive PCIe card. Overall, it comes as no surprise that in terms of hardware, the QNAP TS-464 still takes the first place, as the Synology DS920+ (like most of the brand’s solutions) is prioritizes the DSM platform and it’s tools/services over the hardware. Let’s discuss the software on each of these brands.
QNAP TS-464 or the Synology DS920+ NAS – Software
When you are choosing to buy a Synology or QNAP NAS, it is always worth bearing in mind that you are not just buying a bunch of hardware, but you are actually getting a fully-featured software solution. Both the Synology DS920+ and QNAP TS-464 arrive with each brand’s premium NAS software and services platform, DSM and QTS respectively. Both of these platforms include a traditional operating system level of accessibility and control, that can be accessed via pretty much any web browser or desktop OS, as well as numerous tailored mobile client applications. The Synology DSM platform is a lot more comparable in design and control with Mac OSX and is by far the more user-friendly option of the two. The QNAP QTS platform is a lot more comparable to Android in its initial GUI and then more like Windows in it’s navigation, arriving as the option with a greater deal of configuration and control, but with a steeper learning curve. Another big difference between QTS and DSM is how they present their services, with QNAP providing a larger degree of support of 3rd party applications (both in the app center and in the configuration of their own range of 1st party applications. Synology DSM on the other hand proves a larger and more impressive range of fist party tools that are designed to replace/improve upon the 3rd party tools you might be using, with many of it’s applications being comparable to top tier 3rd party paid tools in the market (the Synology collaboration suite, the Surveillance Station application and pretty much everything in Synology Drive, just as a start). The QNAP platform also, in it’s efforts to be as widely compatible and configurable as possible, occasionally stems into over-complexity and risks the user tripping over itself as it tries to manage the larger scale of configuration Whereas, although the Synology DSM platform may seem a pinch more closed and fixed, it manages to prevent the users from accidentally ruining their own storage system. Here is a full breakdown of the key applications that are included with the QNAP TS-464 and Synology DS920+, broken down into categories:
|Browser Support||Supports all Browsers||Supports all Browsers|
|Browser File Management||Browser File Management|
|Photo/Music/Video Tools||Photo/Music/Video Tools|
|Multimedia Console||Synology Drive|
|AI Photo Recognition||AI Photo Recognition|
|Edge m.2 Coral TPU Support|
|SED Drive Support||SED Drive Support|
|QTier||Synology Hybrid RAID|
|Hybrid Mount||Hybrid Share|
|ISCSI Target/LUN||ISCSI Target/LUN|
|SSD Cache (Read/Write/Both)||SSD Cache (Read/Write/Both)|
|Cloud Sync / QSync||Cloud Sync|
|Ex-FAT is Free||Fast RAID Rebuild|
|RAID Resync control||RAID Resync control|
|Secure Erase||Acrtive Backup Suite|
|Lots of Expansions (TR/TL)||Hyper Backup|
|HBS 3||Synology CMS|
|Qfiling and Qsirch|
|QVR Pro – 8 Camera Licenses (+USB Camera Support)||Surveillance Station – 2 Camera Licenses|
|Virtualization Station||Virtual Machine Manager|
|Ubuntu Linux Station 18/20||Docker Support|
|Container Station||Active Backup 365 & Workspace|
|Hypervisor Protector||Synology Office, Chat, Calendar|
|QMailAgent||Synology Mail / MailPlus|
|HD Station||Synology C2 and Services|
|Security Councillor||Security Councillor|
|Malware Remover||Synology VPN Plus|
|McAfee Anti-Virus Scanning||Log and Notification Center|
|QVPN||Auto Blocking on SSH, Telnet etc|
|Log and Notification Center||256 bit Encryption|
|Auto Blocking on SSH, Telnet etc||2 Step Authentication|
|256 bit Encryption||Firewall App|
|2 Step Authentication||Access Protection and Allow/Deny list|
|Firewall App||Synology Secure SignIn|
|Access Protection and Allow/Deny list||Synology C2 Password|
As you can see, both NAS brands provide similar levels of software, services and features, but they are presented in very different ways. Once again, I cannot emphasise enough how much more the QNAP platform is configurable but ALSO how it can often give you too much configuration and risk overwhelming less experienced users. The Synology DSM platform, for all its comparative rigidicy, is still overall the better software experience and you definitely see that Software over hardware priority from the brand clearly here. I have made long, LONG reviews on each of the NAS brand’s and their software platforms, which you can watch below for much, much more information on their respective strengths and weaknesses.
|QNAP QTS 5.0 Review||Synology DSM 7 Review|
Ultimately, it will come as no surprise that Synology come out on top in terms of software compared with the QNAP. That is not to say that the QNAP QTS platform is not good, it really, really is and some of the applications that are included for home and business users are often genuinely impressive, unique and provide facilities to the end-user that are wholly unavailable on any other NAS platform (eg Multimedia Console as a single portal media manager, the 2-3 Click VM storages and repository that are available in Virtualization Station, Linux Station and Container Staton or the QuMagie AI-powered tool that is able to cover a greater range of subjects and categories that any other NAS photo tool out there). However, the QNAP QTS platform is not quite as polished, as user-friendly and as responsive as the Synology DSM platform overall. If you want a better idea how these two NAS software platforms compare directly (i.e face to face), then you can check out my DSM vs QTS video below:
QNAP TS-464 or the Synology DS920+ NAS – Conclusion
Ultimately, choosing between the Synology DS920+ and QNAP TS-464 largely comes down to a question of hardware vs software. The more recently released QNAP TS-464 is by a long distance the more advanced in hardware in practically every way (thanks of course to the brand’s focus in this direction, but also the 2 years of difference in their respective releases) which leads to that system having a tremendously large scope in terms of what you can do with it, how far the storage can be expanded and how upgradable the system can be. The QNAP is the better future proof choice and despite the Synology NAS platform having a stronger software platform, it still has a vast array of software and services available in QTS nonetheless. For those that are hardware-focused or want a NAS to support their existing 3rd party client tools and apps, the QNAP TS-464 is by and larger the better choice. The Synology DS920+ NAS on the other hand, despite its 2 years in the market and arguably safer/sensible stance on hardware, is still a great NAS that has only become more appealing to users as its initial RRP has been abandoned and the device arriving easily at the $450-500 online. Add to that the core strength and first-party focus of DSM leading to this hardware+software solution providing you with a huge array of polished and premium feeling tools at your disposal. As long as you are happy to do things ‘Synology’s way’ and are looking for an easy to use system that will not tax the end-users brain, you will find Synology the better software choice overall.
QNAP TS-464 NAS – Spring/Summer 2022
Synology DS920+ NAS – Spring/Summer 2020
Reasons to Buy it?
Better Hardware inside and out
More Expansion/Upgrade Options
Able to run more simultaneous apps/clients at once
Faster USB Ports (10Gb/s)
Larger bandwidth PCIe upgrade slot (PCIe 3×2 vs 2×2)
Higher CPU Frequency, Efficiency & Proficiency
M.2 SSD Useable Storage Option
Reasons to Buy it?
Much more user-friendly
Synology Hybrid RAID for flexibility
Overall Better 1st Party Software
Better Surveillance Access/Streaming
Lower Price Point in 2022
First Party Accessories (HDD, SSD, Memory, etc) Available
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