Synology NASes are known to be trend-setting products, so the three models we’ve tested today leave a very good impression. They feature reliable case design and efficient cooling system. They are easy to handle even for inexperienced users. The broad functionality of their firmware is indicated by the fact that the electronic version of the user manual is almost 200 pages long and doesn't ever cover all of the available software modules. The firmware is updated regularly and usually covers all products released over the last several years.
The downside is that Synology NASes are quite expensive. Considering that the bulk of their price covers the software, which is the same on each NAS, we cannot expect them to get cheaper in the near future. Limiting the firmware capabilities can certainly increase the cost of testing, optimization and support and can hardly end up producing more affordable solutions. Moreover, NASes designed for four and more disks are considerably more expensive than similarly configured 2-disk products.
We’d recommend dual-disk models for most home applications. It is only if you are sure that 8 TB of storage is not enough for you that you should consider the NASes we’ve discussed today. Besides the external differences (hot swapping and I/O connectors), they have different hardware platforms.
Our testing showed that they are very close in performance in terms of network data access unless you use RAID5/6. If you want fast arrays of the latter types, you may want to consider the senior models. The junior model is also pretty good, though. Today's NASes have become so fast that it is the Gigabit Ethernet connection rather than the hardware platform that becomes the bottleneck.
It is only in specific applications that the CPU architecture and specs affect the performance. The senior NASes can process photos and videos faster, although a desktop PC would still be a better option for such tasks. The MySQL test produced expected results, too.
The energy efficiency factor may affect the choice of the particular model, too. The NASes differ in their power draw, but the difference is negligible in most situations. Anyway, the ARM- and PPC-based models consume less than the x86-based one. This fact may be important for choosing the UPS, although even junior UPSes can run such NASes on their battery for at least an hour.
Here’s a brief summary for each tested product. The DS413j is a good entry-level NAS for home applications. The DS413 is perfect for corporate users who need high performance, HDD hot-swapping and fast I/O interfaces. The DS412+ is the most functionally rich and high-performance x86-based model that can run specialized software and supports high-speed access with fault-tolerant RAIDs.
As you can see, all the three reviewed Synology models are great. These network attached storage devices are practically perfect in all aspects. However, we believe that only one of these three products can be crowned as our absolute favorite and receive our Editor’s Choice title – Synology DS413. This model offers a brilliant combination of broad functionality, high performance and low power consumption. It supports HDD hot-swap, and most importantly comes at a reasonable price.