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Closing Thoughts

I brought all the Competitive Performance results into Table 1 for easier comparison. The two winners in this comparison seem to be the Sans Digital MN4L+ for both RAID 0 and 5 writes and the QNAP TS-509 Pro for reads. But more importantly, these results would seem to indicate that the DS408 is not just a four-drive, less-expensive version of the DS508.

Product RAID 0 RAID 5
Synology DS408 37.7 48.3 31.2 48.1
Synology DS508 44.8 43.6 40.1 40.2
QNAP TS-509 Pro 44.7 51.4 45.5 54.2
Sans Digital MN4L+ 48.3 46.9 46.2 44.3
Table 1: Throughput comparison summary

On the other hand, Synology's own performance data, which uses Windows XP SP2 system-to-system file copy as the benchmark, shows very similar performance between the DS408 and 508, but with different hard drives and an earlier firmware version.

My testing has two differences between the DS408 and 508—the hard drives and the firmware version. Of the two, I suspect the firmware more than the drives, since both drives were 3 Gb/s, 7200 RPM SATA. The DS508 has long gone back to Synology, so I couldn't rerun it for this review. But if Synology wants to resubmit it for testing, using the same drives and firmware as the DS408, I'll be happy to retest it and update the charts.

If you're sold on a RAID 5 Synology, but have been stopped short by the DS508's >$1000 price tag, and the age and performance of the CS407, at least you now have a lower-cost, current-generation option. The DS408 isn't exactly cheap at a list price of $749, though, and remember, that's without drives.

The performance comparison and Charts show that there are other products that will provide similar or better performance than the DS408 if all you want is basic file sharing and storage. But Synology and QNAP aren't after those customers, given all the features they cram into their products.

I didn't include QNAP's TS-409 Pro in the Performance comparison, because frankly, it's not even in the same performance class, although both have similar feature sets. The Marvell-based TS-409 Pro is simply no match for the Freescale-based DS408, although it does win on price, coming in around $200 less.

The DS408 puts the ball back into QNAP's court to come up with a competitive quad-drive offering in the NASver sweepstakes. In the meantime, if you're sold on the DS408, be sure to shop around. Most etailers are currently selling it above list, closer to $800. Unless you really want it that badly, you might wait for pricing to settle down a bit.

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