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NAS Reviews

Introduction

Synology DS508

At a Glance
Product Synology Disk Station (DS408)
Summary Four drive, single Ethernet port version of the DS508
Pros • Gigabit Ethernet ports with jumbo frame support
• RAID 1,5, and RAID expansion
• Built-in servers for Web, FTP, iTunes, Printer, UPnP AV, Photo sharing, Backup, and Bit Torrent download.
• Direct recording from IP-based cameras
• High performance
Cons • Not cheap
• Drives don't hot-swap

Synology's DS508 that we looked at in May is a high performance, full-featured NAS/server (NASver?) that also carries the highest price tag of the BYOD NASes that currently occupy the top positions in our NAS Charts. But not everyone needs dual-gigabit ports that support link aggregation, nor do they need five hot-swappable drives.

The DS408 is Synology's answer to NAS fanboys that have been craving a higher-performance four-drive offering to replace the CS407/407e "Cube Station", which has been getting a bit long in the tooth.

Since Synology now uses the same "DSM-2.0" OS across virtually all of its NASes, the DS408's feature set is the same as the DS508's, minus those that require the 508's five drives and dual gigabit Ethernet ports. So you can think of the 408 as the four-drive, not hot-swappable, single LAN port and (perhaps most importantly) lower-cost version of the 508.

I started out to take internal pictures of the DS408, but soon found that Craig had done a good job in the CS407 review. So Figure 1 is actually a photo of the CS407, which also accurately shows what I saw when I removed the four thumbscrews and dropped the back fan panel on the DS408.

CS407 / DS408 internal view

Figure 1: CS407 / DS408 internal view

What you can't see is the new main board because, frankly, Synology has made it clear that it doesn't want you pulling this beastie apart. Aside from the 10 screws that hold the drive cage, main board and front and bottom case panels together, the cage is secured to the board (or bottom plate) with long metallized adhesive strips along both sides of the cage.

So I gave up on the photo and instead managed to peek into the gaps in the drive cage to get a look at the components used. Like the 508, the 408 uses a Freescale MPC8543 CPU clocked at 800 MHz (hidden under a pin-fin heatsink). There is also 512MB of DDR2 RAM on a SODIMM with a big "Remove this and void your warranty" sticker over it and 4 MB of flash.

A Marvell 88E1118 PHY provides the single gigabit Ethernet LAN port, a Marvell 88SX7042 4 Port SATA controller handles the drives and an NEC D720102 3-port USB 2.0 Host Controller provides the two USB 2.0 ports. So aside from the single SATA controller and newer USB controller, the 408 has essentially the same compute power as the 508.

Synology recently released the 0722 version of its DSM 2.0 OS, which Craig covered nicely in the DS508 review. The release notes are here and the press release here. The three biggest improvements are the addition of RAID 6 support, which can withstand two drive failures, the NFS filesystem, which was conspicuous by its omission and Link Aggregation, which might help improve performance on dual-LAN models (the DS508, RS408 and RS408-RP).

The other improvements are enhancements of existing features including multiple scheduled Local Backup tasks and support for eMule and NZB in the Download Station feature.

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