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NAS Reviews

DiskStation
At a glance
ProductSynology DiskStation (DS216j)   [Website]
SummaryValue priced dual-bay NAS with single Gigabit Ethernet port. Powered by dual-core Marvell CPU.
Pros• Good value for the money
• Broad feature set with lots of installable apps
• Very low noise
Cons• Disks are not hot-swappable
• Case disassembly required to install drives

Typical Price: $500  Buy From Amazon

Introduction

Last year, I reviewed the DS216, part of Synology's Value Series targeted at the Home/Workgroup. This review will focus on the DS216j, a lower-priced entry-level model targeted at home users.

Synology's NAS Comparison tool currently shows six two-bay desktop models, two each in its "Plus", "Value" and "J" series. The chart excerpt below focuses on showing processor, RAM, ports and hardware encryption / transcoding features. The DS216, 216j and 216se differ mainly in processor and RAM. Only the DS716+II has two Gigabit Ethernet ports, all others have one.

Comparison of Synology 2 bay NASes

Comparison of Synology 2 bay NASes

The image below shows the callouts for the DS216j front and rear panel. It was taken from the DS216j Hardware installation guide.

Synology DS216j callouts

Synology DS216j callouts

You have to remove the case cover in order to mount the disks using screws on the DS216j. It's certainly not difficult, but some home users may not like disassembling the case. Most other Synology products have front panel access for the disks and have plastic mounting trays that don't require tools. But given the DS216j's lower price, the tray-less disk mounting makes sense.

Synology DS216j Drive Installation

Synology DS216j Drive Installation

The table below shows the LED indicators key.

Synology DS216j LED indicators

Table 1: Synology DS216j LED indicators

Inside

The image below shows the top side the DS216j's board.

Synology DS216j board

Synology DS216j board

For this review, I decided to compare the DS216j with the Synology DS216 and the ASUSTOR AS1002T. All three products use a Marvell ARMADA-385 dual-core processor and 512 MB of RAM. You can see side-by-side feature comparisons for these three products here in the NAS Finder.

When I reviewed the DS216 back in 2015, its Marvell SoC was clocked at 1 GHz; its current spec shows the clock rate at 1.3 GHz. I suspect this was done when the DS216j was introduced to continue to justify the DS216's higher price and provide a performance boost.

The table below shows the key component summary for the selected products.

  Synology DS216j Synology DS216 ASUSTOR AS1002T
CPU Marvell ARMADA-385 88F6820 @ 1GHz dual-core
Marvell ARMADA-385 @ 1.3 GHz dual-core
Marvell ARMADA-385 @ 1GHz dual-core
RAM 512 MB Hynix H5TC4G63CFR 512 MB Samsung K4B4G1646D (?) 512 MB Samsung K4B4G1646D
Flash 8 MB Macronix MX25L6406E 16 MB Macronix MX25L12835 (?) 16 MB Macronix MX25L12835
Ethernet Marvell 88E1511 Gigabit Ethernet Marvell 88E1512 (?) Realtek RTL8211E
USB 3.0 In CPU In CPU In CPU
Table 2: Key component summary

The DS216j drew 17 W with two Synology-provided 2 TB Seagate NAS (ST2000VN0001) drives spun up and 7 W in power save mode with the drives spun down. RAID 1 rebuild was less than 10 minutes with the bad block check was skipped. Noise was rated as very low.

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