Synology DS218+Source: Rich Edmonds / Windows Central

After shopping around for Network Attached Storage (NAS) units, you may have decided on Synology as a brand. That's only the first step, as the company offers an extensive collection of NAS boxes, depending on what you need.

I'm going to run you through a few things to make choosing the right model that little bit easier.

Breaking down the numbers

Synology DS420+Source: Rich Edmonds / Windows Central

Synology, like other vendors, uses model numbers to differentiate between the various options. The DS prefix is always present, which stands for DiskStation. After that, you have a number that usually indicates how many drive bays are present. The last two numbers are tied to each generation (representing the year of release). For example, the 2016 DS216 has two drive bays but is likely to be slower than the newer DS218 from 2018. It keeps it simple.

Some units from Synology may have a suffix at the end that shows a unique or more capable system. Here are a few examples such suffixes:

  • se - Budget-friendly option.
  • j - Affordable option for home use.
  • play - Usually has a more powerful processor for better transcoding.
  • + - Sports an Intel processor.
  • +II - The same model as the "+" but with a newer processor.

A DS218+II would be a DiskStation NAS with a newer generation of Intel processor. The DS218j, on the other hand, would contain less powerful internals but command a more affordable price.

Comparing models

Synology DS420+Source: Rich Edmonds / Windows Central

Here's a comparison table with a few of the latest models from Synology.

Category DS218+ DS420+ DS1019+ DS220j
CPU Intel Celeron J3355
Dual-core 2.0GHz
Intel Celeron J4025
Dual-core 2.0GHz
Intel Celeron J3455
Quad-core 1.5GHz
Realtek RTD1296
Quad-core 1.4GHz
RAM 2GB DDR3L (6GB max) 2GB DDR4 (6GB max) 8GB DDR3L (8GB max) 512MB DDR4
Drive bays 2 4 10 2
Capacity 32TB
2 x 16TB
64TB
4 x 16TB
160TB
10 x 16TB
32TB
2 x 16TB
Transcoding H.264 (AVC)
H.265 (HEVC)
MPEG-2
VC-1
4K 30 FPS
H.264 (AVC)
H.265 (HEVC)
MPEG-2
VC-1
4K 60 FPS
H.264 (AVC)
H.265 (HEVC)
MPEG-2
VC-1
4K 30 FPS
-
Ports 1x Gb LAN
3x USB 3.0
1x eSATA
2x Gb LAN
2x USB 3.0
2x Gb LAN
2x USB 3.0
1x eSATA
1x Gb LAN
2x USB 3.0
Warranty Two years Two years Two years Two years
Price $250 $500 $650 $170

The more affordable options like the j models will not be very good at transcoding video and other intensive tasks but can be used to store music and other files and stream them to connected devices. The more expensive options will be better suited and cost a little extra. The base (DS218) and Intel-powered + models are an ideal middle ground. And the DS218+ won the Windows Central Choice Award.

Then you have the DS420+, which is part of the 2020 catalog. Unless stated otherwise, NAS listings usually do not come with hard drives. So you'll need to factor purchasing these into the final price. We've got a few guides available on choosing the best hard drives for a NAS.

Latest and greatest

Synology DS420+

Lastest NAS

Powered by a capable Intel Celeron processor, DDR4 RAM and rocking four bays makes the DS420+ a fantastic mid-tier NAS for the home and office.

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