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Below is the NAS Ranker Performance summary for the se. Note that this ranking is for all products tested and doesn't relate to a particular class of processor or number of drives. The weakest scores are for NASPT Directory copy read and NASPT Video Playback (four simultaneous HD streams), while the se ranked highest for RAID 1 NASPT File Copy and Directory Copy writes and reads.

Synology DS214se NAS Ranker performance summary

Synology DS214se NAS Ranker performance summary

To home in on RAID 1 NASes, I filtered the Ranker for two-bay NASes and sorted by ascending price, The chart below shows the results.

NAS Ranker - Total NAS filtered for 2 drive NAS, sorted by price

NAS Ranker filtered for 2 bay NAS, sorted by price

It turns out that there two cheaper two-bay NASes than the DS214se with higher rankings: the $140 Zyxel NSA235 (ranked #26) and the $150 Buffalo LS421DE (ranked #37). Looking at the actual ranking score, the Buffalo's 30.2 is essentially the same as the 214se's 30.3, so consider them tied. The ZyXEL's rank score of 23.2 is significantly higher and so has the best price performance of the bunch.

Here's its Ranker Performance summary so that you can compare to the 214se. Its strengths are overall Read, Video streaming and Backup. Keep in mind that the ZyXEL has a USB 3.0 port, but doesn't support iSCSI.

ZyXEL NSA325 Ranker Performance Summary

ZyXEL NSA325 Ranker Performance Summary

Closing Thoughts

RAID 1 NASes are for folks who want a bit more insurance against inevitable drive failure. With a single bay NAS, you'll be without your data until you replace the drive and restore from your backup. But with RAID 1, you can keep on going while the volume rebuilds.

Synology hasn't made its bones by being a low-cost NAS producer and it's doubtful that the DS214se represents a major change in company direction. Think of it more as a marketing experiment, perhaps to test the waters for other products focused more on the price factor in the price / performance equation.

Though we haven't done an in-depth review of the DSM 4.3 feature set, from what I've seen, the features and the available add-ins would seem to put Synology at or near the top of the features heap. I was impressed that there are add-on modules for mail , RADIUS and DNS servers as well as a VPN gateway.

But the DS412se is being marketed as a "single-role edition" , which is a hint that you shouldn't be running too many CPU-intensive services on it concurrently. Although Synology has wisely not crippled the DS214se's feature set, there is simply not enough horsepower to handle file services while also transcoding video, generating thumbnails, servicing VPN tunnels, acting as a mail server and streaming video!

If your NAS needs are simple, the $160 Synology DS214se has all of the features you could want and enough performance for many SOHO users. But before you plunk down your money, be sure to check out the Zyxel NSA235 and Buffalo LS421DE and see if their more limited feature sets meet your needs.

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