Which Synology NAS Should I Buy?

Which Synology NAS Should I Buy?

Before you buy you need to decide what drive failure protection you need and what functionality you want it to have.

You have options starting with no drive redundancy which includes 1 bay NAS models or NAS with several bays merging together all available disk space. Or you can have single or multiple drive failure tolerance. This means that one or more drives can fail, but you loose no data and you can still access it as if nothing happened. This will require 2 or more bays on your NAS.

Another thing you need to decide is the speed. Are you happy with standard 1Gbit speeds that everyone has at home, or maybe you need something faster. You can have a single LAN port for basic data access over the network. You can have multiple LAN ports that allow more people to access data without sharing a single LAN connection. Having a dedicated line to access speeds things up. Or if you need faster speeds per user, you may consider getting a NAS with 2.5/5/10GbE connection.

Best 1-bay NAS

Best 2-bay NAS

Best 4-bay NAS

Best 5/6-bay NAS

Best 8/12-bay NAS

 

NAS compared on hardware level

If you are planning to achieve really fast data transfer speeds for things like video editing or fast backups then you will need to look at CPU and LAN connectivity. Faster CPU will also mean faster data transfer speeds. If you are looking for video editing storage solution then you will need around 300MB/s bandwidth for each 4K editor. This would mean a NAS with 10GbE connection (or PCIe 10G card slot). If you have a WiFi6 at home you may also consider dual 1GbE LAN or even 2.5GbE connectivity from your NAS.

Having a faster CPU will be crucial for running your virtual machines and docker images.  Faster CPU would also help with third party apps that require things like video transcoding.

Every year apps and operating systems are growing in size. Having an option to increase a memory size could buy you some more time. Otherwise you may not be allowed at some point to install latest OS or apps simply because you have not enough RAM memory.

Having SSD cache allow all uploaded data first to land on fast SSD instead of slower HDD volume. This speeds the file upload. Also read cache will speed file downloads that are frequently accessed. This would mean faster data download in multi user environments, Virtual machines, web servers and do on.

Having a spare PCIe slot allows you to upgrade your NAS with a faster network cards and cache cards.

COMPARE BAYS CACHE RAM upgrade PCIe CPU Benchmark Multi LAN TOP speed
DS120j 1 NO NO NO Armada 3700 <1000 NO 120MB/s
DS220j 2 NO NO NO Realtek RTD1296 <1000 NO 120MB/s
DS420j 4 NO NO NO Realtek RTD1296 <1000 NO 120MB/s
DS118 1 NO NO NO Realtek RTD1296 <1000 NO 120MB/s
DS218play 2 NO NO NO Realtek RTD1296 <1000 NO 120MB/s
DS218 2 NO NO NO Realtek RTD1296 <1000 NO 120MB/s
DS418 4 NO NO NO Realtek RTD1296 <1000 2 x LAN 220MB/s
DS620slim 6 NO DDR4 NO 2-core J3355 1235 2 x LAN 220MB/s
DS220+ 2 NO DDR4 NO 2-core J4025 1673 2 x LAN 220MB/s
DS420+ 4 YES DDR4 NO 2-core J4025 1673 2 x LAN 220MB/s
ds720+ 2 YES DDR4 NO 4-core J4125 3035 2 x LAN 220MB/s
DS920+ 4 YES DDR4 NO 4-core J4125 3035 2 x LAN 220MB/s
DS1520+ 5 YES DDR4 NO 4-core J4125 3035 4 x LAN 450MB/s
DS2419+II 12 card DDR4 Gen3 x8 (x4 link) 4-core Atom C3538 1756 4 x LAN (or pcie) 1737MB/s
DS1621+ 6 YES DDR4 Gen3 x8 (x4 link) 4-core Ryzen V1500B 4194 4 x LAN (or pcie) 2325MB/s
DS1821+ 8 YES DDR4 Gen3 x8 (x4 link) 4-core Ryzen V1500B 4194 4 x LAN (or pcie) 2322MB/s
DS2422+ 12 card DDR4 ECC Gen3 x8 (x4 link) 4-core Ryzen V1500B 4194 4 x LAN (or pcie) 2199MB/s
DS1621xs+ 6 YES DDR4 ECC Gen3 x8 (x8 link) 4-core Xeon D-1527 6000 2 x 1Gbe 1 x 10GbE 3131MB/s
DS3617xsII 12 card DDR4 ECC Gen3 x8 (x4 link) 4-core Xeon D-1527 6000 4 x LAN (or pcie) 2359MB/s
DS3622xs+ 12 card DDR4 ECC Gen3 x8 (x8 link) 6-core Xeon D-1531 7967 2 x 1Gbe 2 x 10GbE 4720MB/s

Compared on storage space and redundancy levels

When choosing a NAS you may need to run few data growth rate predictions. You may start with just a couple of drives in a NAS leaving few bays empty. Many people do leave empty bays because they know they will need them in a year or two. You can also plug in expansion boxes and and few additional drives this way. Synology offers 5 bay and 12 bay expansion boxes. Sometimes it is cheaper to get an expansion instead of replacing existing drives with bigger size drives.

Business environments where downtime could cost money do demand NAS with hot swap option. This means that if a drive fails, you can replace a drive without switching off a NAS. People would would not even notice that hard drive has failed and been replaced with a new one. Also people who buy a NAS with spare bays do prefer models with SHR or drive mixing option. This means that they can add two bigger drives to their existing setup and gain more space. Other brands require changing all drives to a bigger size to gain more storage space.

The last step people are choosing is drive redundancy level. Should they allow 1 drive failure or more. Businesses with sensitive data on their NAS do often choose 2 drive failure protection also called SHR2/RAID6. But the most popular option is drive mirroring where one drive synchronised with another in the NAS. Also called RAID1/RAID10.

COMPARE MAX storage Expansion Hot Swap HDD MIX Redundancy
DS120j 18TB NO NO NO NO
DS220j 36TB NO NO NO Mirror
DS420j 72TB NO NO YES 1-2 drive
DS118 18TB NO NO NO NO
DS218play 36TB NO NO NO Mirror
DS218 36TB NO NO NO Mirror
DS418 72TB NO YES YES 1-2 drive
DS620slim 108TB NO YES YES 1 to 3 drive
DS220+ 36TB NO YES NO Mirror
DS420+ 72TB NO YES YES 1-2 drive
ds720+ 126TB 5 YES YES 1 to 3 drive
DS920+ 162TB 5 YES YES 1 to 4 drive
DS1520+ 270TB 10 YES YES 1 to 7 drive
DS2419+II 432TB 12 YES YES 1 to 12 drive
DS1621+ 288TB 10 YES YES 1 to 8 drive
DS1821+ 378TB 10 YES YES 1 to 9 drive
DS2422+ 432TB 12 YES YES 1 to 12 drive
DS1621xs+ 288TB 10 YES NO 1 to 8 drive
DS3617xsII 648TB 24 YES NO 1 to 18 drive
DS3622xs+ 648TB 24 YES NO 1 to 18 drive

 

Multimedia performance

Majority of people buy a NAS for their multimedia needs. It can be their movies and family videos. Having a graphics chip built in allows people to also access video remotely or on devices that do not support certain video formats. If you have an HD TV it could not play your videos from new 4K phones. This built in chip will convert videos on the fly. Also when accessing remotely your videos might bee to big for the internet upload speeds. Synology will convert these videos into a smaller version so that it can be streamed over the internet. But if you have a 4K TV and 4K videos then there is no bottleneck in your local network. You can then use any NAS to stream videos in original format locally.

COMPARE GPU chip PLEX DS Video MAX resolution
DS120j NO up to 4K locally up to 4K locally H.265 4K@60fps, H.264 4K@30fps, 1080p@60fps
DS220j ARM Mali-T820 MP3 up to 4K locally up to 4K locally H.265 4K@60fps, H.264 4K@30fps, 1080p@60fps
DS420j ARM Mali-T820 MP3 up to 4K locally up to 4K locally H.265 4K@60fps, H.264 4K@30fps, 1080p@60fps
DS118 ARM Mali-T820 MP3 up to 4K locally local+ 4K remotely H.265 4K@60fps, H.264 4K@30fps, 1080p@60fps
DS218play ARM Mali-T820 MP3 up to 4K locally local+ 4K remotely H.265 4K@60fps, H.264 4K@30fps, 1080p@60fps
DS218 ARM Mali-T820 MP3 up to 4K locally local+ 4K remotely H.265 4K@60fps, H.264 4K@30fps, 1080p@60fps
DS418 ARM Mali-T820 MP3 up to 4K locally local+ 4K remotely H.265 4K@60fps, H.264 4K@30fps, 1080p@60fps
DS620slim HD Graphics 500 Local + remote 720p local+ 4K remotely 4096×2160@60Hz H.264 (AVC), H.265 (HEVC), MPEG-2 and VC-1
DS220+ HD Graphics 600 Local + remote 720p local+ 4K remotely 4096×2160@60Hz H.264 (AVC), H.265 (HEVC), MPEG-2 and VC-1
DS420+ HD Graphics 600 Local + remote 720p local+ 4K remotely 4096×2160@60Hz H.264 (AVC), H.265 (HEVC), MPEG-2 and VC-1
ds720+ HD Graphics 600 Local + remote 1080p local+ 4K remotely 4096×2160@60Hz H.264 (AVC), H.265 (HEVC), MPEG-2 and VC-1
DS920+ HD Graphics 600 Local + remote 1080p local+ 4K remotely 4096×2160@60Hz H.264 (AVC), H.265 (HEVC), MPEG-2 and VC-1
DS1520+ HD Graphics 600 Local + remote 1080p local+ 4K remotely 4096×2160@60Hz H.264 (AVC), H.265 (HEVC), MPEG-2 and VC-1
DS2419+II NO Local + remote 1080p local+ HD remotely
DS1621+ NO Local + remote 1080p local+ HD remotely
DS1821+ NO Local + remote 1080p local+ HD remotely
DS2422+ NO Local + remote 1080p local+ HD remotely
DS1621xs+ NO Local + remote 4k local+ 4K remotely
DS3617xsII NO Local + remote 4k local+ 4K remotely
DS3622xs+ NO Local + remote 4k local+ 4K remotely

 

Software and functionality

There are people who want much more then simple network attached file storage and backups.

Having BTRFS enable self healing if there have been power cuts and other unfinished file copy operations. This file system also enables snapshot functionality which is similar to Windows System restore. You can restore previous version of files and folders on your NAS if someone accidentally altered file contents or deleted files entirely.

So many people use VMs to install Windows or Smart home environment. You do not need to buy a separate PC to do this. Having a virtual machine on a NAS is far les power consuming and generates less noise. Also you do not need to get special software for this. All this is built inside the NAS OS. Docker especially is becoming very popular. You can install popular systems with a click of the button.

Apps like Active backup will allow you to run full system backups of your Windows PC and servers. Al this free of charge. You cna also back up your Google suite and Office 365.

Businesses that require 0% downtime do often set up high availability. This mean that two NAS system are linked together with something caller heart beat cable. If one NAS fails (internal component failure etc) the other NAS will take over and continue serving clients. They might not even notice that the main NAS is on fire.

There are many business that pay for yearly server licences to be able to run Active directory. Synology offers this for free.

You can also have your own mail server. Nowadays people do not want to trust or accept cloud provider privacy policies. It is safer to keep things in house.

I have mentioned 4K editing here since it is software related. But it is crucial to have 10GbE connectivity to be able to edit off the NAS. You can also use ISCSI option to trick your editing software that this is an internal disk instead of network disk. Having a transcoding chip or a powerful CPU will also allow you to share finished projects with your clients easier.

And lastly there is PetaSpace functionality for XS series models that allow merging multiple volumes together and give access from one volume to another without physically having these two locations linked.

COMPARE BTRFS snapshots VMs/ docker Active backup google/365 High availability Active Directory MailPlus Server 4k editing PetaSpace
DS120j NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO
DS220j NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO
DS420j NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO
DS118 NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO
DS218play NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO
DS218 YES YES NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO
DS418 YES YES NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO
DS620slim YES YES 2 YES YES YES YES YES NO NO
DS220+ YES YES 2 YES YES YES YES YES NO NO
DS420+ YES YES 2 YES YES YES YES YES NO NO
ds720+ YES YES 2 YES YES YES YES YES NO NO
DS920+ YES YES 4 YES YES YES YES YES NO NO
DS1520+ YES YES 4 YES YES YES YES YES NO NO
DS2419+II YES YES 4 YES YES YES YES YES YES NO
DS1621+ YES YES 8 YES YES YES YES YES YES NO
DS1821+ YES YES 8 YES YES YES YES YES YES NO
DS2422+ YES YES 8 YES YES YES YES YES YES NO
DS1621xs+ YES YES 8 YES YES YES YES YES YES YES
DS3617xsII YES YES 8 YES YES YES YES YES YES YES
DS3622xs+ YES YES 12 YES YES YES YES YES YES YES

 

 

 

 

Best 1-bay NAS

DS120j vs DS118

NAS compared on hardware level

COMPARE BAYS CACHE RAM upgrade PCIe CPU Benchmark Multi LAN TOP speed
DS120j 1 NO NO NO Armada 3700 <1000 NO 120MB/s
DS118 1 NO NO NO Realtek RTD1296 <1000 NO 120MB/s

Compared on storage space and redundancy levels

COMPARE MAX storage Expansion Hot Swap HDD MIX Redundancy
DS120j 18TB NO NO NO NO
DS118 18TB NO NO NO NO

 

Multimedia performance

COMPARE GPU chip PLEX DS Video MAX resolution
DS120j NO up to 4K locally up to 4K locally H.265 4K@60fps, H.264 4K@30fps, 1080p@60fps
DS118 ARM Mali-T820 MP3 up to 4K locally local+ 4K remotely H.265 4K@60fps, H.264 4K@30fps, 1080p@60fps

Software and functionality

COMPARE BTRFS snapshots VMs/ docker Active backup google/365 High availability Active Directory MailPlus Server 4k editing PetaSpace
DS120j NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO
DS118 NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO

 

 

 

Best 2-bay NAS

DS220+j vs DS218play vs DS218 vs DS220+ vs ds720+

NAS compared on hardware level

COMPARE BAYS CACHE RAM upgrade PCIe CPU Benchmark Multi LAN TOP speed
DS220j 2 NO NO NO Realtek RTD1296 <1000 NO 120MB/s
DS218play 2 NO NO NO Realtek RTD1296 <1000 NO 120MB/s
DS218 2 NO NO NO Realtek RTD1296 <1000 NO 120MB/s
DS220+ 2 NO DDR4 NO 2-core J4025 1673 2 x LAN 220MB/s
ds720+ 2 YES DDR4 NO 4-core J4125 3035 2 x LAN 220MB/s

Compared on storage space and redundancy levels

COMPARE MAX storage Expansion Hot Swap HDD MIX Redundancy
DS220j 36TB NO NO NO Mirror
DS218play 36TB NO NO NO Mirror
DS218 36TB NO NO NO Mirror
DS220+ 36TB NO YES NO Mirror
ds720+ 126TB 5 YES YES 1 to 3 drive

Multimedia performance

COMPARE GPU chip PLEX DS Video MAX resolution
DS220j ARM Mali-T820 MP3 up to 4K locally up to 4K locally H.265 4K@60fps, H.264 4K@30fps, 1080p@60fps
DS218play ARM Mali-T820 MP3 up to 4K locally local+ 4K remotely H.265 4K@60fps, H.264 4K@30fps, 1080p@60fps
DS218 ARM Mali-T820 MP3 up to 4K locally local+ 4K remotely H.265 4K@60fps, H.264 4K@30fps, 1080p@60fps
DS220+ HD Graphics 600 Local + remote 720p local+ 4K remotely 4096×2160@60Hz H.264 (AVC), H.265 (HEVC), MPEG-2 and VC-1
ds720+ HD Graphics 600 Local + remote 1080p local+ 4K remotely 4096×2160@60Hz H.264 (AVC), H.265 (HEVC), MPEG-2 and VC-1

 

Software and functionality

COMPARE BTRFS snapshots VMs/ docker Active backup google/365 High availability Active Directory MailPlus Server 4k editing PetaSpace
DS220j NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO
DS218play NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO
DS218 YES YES NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO
DS220+ YES YES 2 YES YES YES YES YES NO NO
ds720+ YES YES 2 YES YES YES YES YES NO NO

 

 

 

Best 4-bay NAS

DS420+j vs DS418 vs DS420+ vs DS920+

NAS compared on hardware level

COMPARE BAYS CACHE RAM upgrade PCIe CPU Benchmark Multi LAN TOP speed
DS420j 4 NO NO NO Realtek RTD1296 <1000 NO 120MB/s
DS418 4 NO NO NO Realtek RTD1296 <1000 2 x LAN 220MB/s
DS420+ 4 YES DDR4 NO 2-core J4025 1673 2 x LAN 220MB/s
DS920+ 4 YES DDR4 NO 4-core J4125 3035 2 x LAN 220MB/s

Compared on storage space and redundancy levels

COMPARE MAX storage Expansion Hot Swap HDD MIX Redundancy
DS420j 72TB NO NO YES 1-2 drive
DS418 72TB NO YES YES 1-2 drive
DS420+ 72TB NO YES YES 1-2 drive
DS920+ 162TB 5 YES YES 1 to 4 drive

 

Multimedia performance

COMPARE GPU chip PLEX DS Video MAX resolution
DS420j ARM Mali-T820 MP3 up to 4K locally up to 4K locally H.265 4K@60fps, H.264 4K@30fps, 1080p@60fps
DS418 ARM Mali-T820 MP3 up to 4K locally local+ 4K remotely H.265 4K@60fps, H.264 4K@30fps, 1080p@60fps
DS420+ HD Graphics 600 Local + remote 720p local+ 4K remotely 4096×2160@60Hz H.264 (AVC), H.265 (HEVC), MPEG-2 and VC-1
DS920+ HD Graphics 600 Local + remote 1080p local+ 4K remotely 4096×2160@60Hz H.264 (AVC), H.265 (HEVC), MPEG-2 and VC-1

Software and functionality

COMPARE BTRFS snapshots VMs/ docker Active backup google/365 High availability Active Directory MailPlus Server 4k editing PetaSpace
DS420j NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO
DS418 YES YES NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO
DS420+ YES YES 2 YES YES YES YES YES NO NO
DS920+ YES YES 4 YES YES YES YES YES NO NO

Best 5/6-bay NAS

DS620slim vs DS1520+ vs DS1621+ vs DS1621+xs+

NAS compared on hardware level

COMPARE BAYS CACHE RAM upgrade PCIe CPU Benchmark Multi LAN TOP speed
DS620slim 6 NO DDR4 NO 2-core J3355 1235 2 x LAN 220MB/s
DS1520+ 5 YES DDR4 NO 4-core J4125 3035 4 x LAN 450MB/s
DS1621+ 6 YES DDR4 Gen3 x8 (x4 link) 4-core Ryzen V1500B 4194 4 x LAN (or pcie) 2325MB/s
DS1621xs+ 6 YES DDR4 ECC Gen3 x8 (x8 link) 4-core Xeon D-1527 6000 2 x 1Gbe 1 x 10GbE 3131MB/s

Compared on storage space and redundancy levels

COMPARE MAX storage Expansion Hot Swap HDD MIX Redundancy
DS620slim 108TB NO YES YES 1 to 3 drive
DS1520+ 270TB 10 YES YES 1 to 7 drive
DS1621+ 288TB 10 YES YES 1 to 8 drive
DS1621xs+ 288TB 10 YES NO 1 to 8 drive

Multimedia performance

COMPARE GPU chip PLEX DS Video MAX resolution
DS620slim HD Graphics 500 Local + remote 720p local+ 4K remotely 4096×2160@60Hz H.264 (AVC), H.265 (HEVC), MPEG-2 and VC-1
DS1520+ HD Graphics 600 Local + remote 1080p local+ 4K remotely 4096×2160@60Hz H.264 (AVC), H.265 (HEVC), MPEG-2 and VC-1
DS1621+ NO Local + remote 1080p local+ HD remotely
DS1621xs+ NO Local + remote 4k local+ 4K remotely

Software and functionality

COMPARE BTRFS snapshots VMs/ docker Active backup google/365 High availability Active Directory MailPlus Server 4k editing PetaSpace
DS620slim YES YES 2 YES YES YES YES YES NO NO
DS1520+ YES YES 4 YES YES YES YES YES NO NO
DS1621+ YES YES 8 YES YES YES YES YES YES NO
DS1621xs+ YES YES 8 YES YES YES YES YES YES YES

Best 8/12-bay NAS

DS2419+II vs DS1821+ vs DS2422+ vs DS3617xsII vs DS3622xs+

NAS compared on hardware level

COMPARE BAYS CACHE RAM upgrade PCIe CPU Benchmark Multi LAN TOP speed
DS2419+II 12 card DDR4 Gen3 x8 (x4 link) 4-core Atom C3538 1756 4 x LAN (or pcie) 1737MB/s
DS1821+ 8 YES DDR4 Gen3 x8 (x4 link) 4-core Ryzen V1500B 4194 4 x LAN (or pcie) 2322MB/s
DS2422+ 12 card DDR4 ECC Gen3 x8 (x4 link) 4-core Ryzen V1500B 4194 4 x LAN (or pcie) 2199MB/s
DS3617xsII 12 card DDR4 ECC Gen3 x8 (x4 link) 4-core Xeon D-1527 6000 4 x LAN (or pcie) 2359MB/s
DS3622xs+ 12 card DDR4 ECC Gen3 x8 (x8 link) 6-core Xeon D-1531 7967 2 x 1Gbe 2 x 10GbE 4720MB/s

Compared on storage space and redundancy levels

COMPARE MAX storage Expansion Hot Swap HDD MIX Redundancy
DS2419+II 432TB 12 YES YES 1 to 12 drive
DS1821+ 378TB 10 YES YES 1 to 9 drive
DS2422+ 432TB 12 YES YES 1 to 12 drive
DS3617xsII 648TB 24 YES NO 1 to 18 drive
DS3622xs+ 648TB 24 YES NO 1 to 18 drive

Multimedia performance

COMPARE GPU chip PLEX DS Video MAX resolution
DS2419+II NO Local + remote 1080p local+ HD remotely
DS1821+ NO Local + remote 1080p local+ HD remotely
DS2422+ NO Local + remote 1080p local+ HD remotely
DS3617xsII NO Local + remote 4k local+ 4K remotely
DS3622xs+ NO Local + remote 4k local+ 4K remotely

Software and functionality

COMPARE BTRFS snapshots VMs/ docker Active backup google/365 High availability Active Directory MailPlus Server 4k editing PetaSpace
DS2419+II YES YES 4 YES YES YES YES YES YES NO
DS1821+ YES YES 8 YES YES YES YES YES YES NO
DS2422+ YES YES 8 YES YES YES YES YES YES NO
DS3617xsII YES YES 8 YES YES YES YES YES YES YES
DS3622xs+ YES YES 12 YES YES YES YES YES YES YES
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