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NAS Reviews

Disk Station
At a glance
ProductSynology Disk Station (DS418j)   [Website]
SummaryFour bay RAID 5 class NAS with one Gigabit Ethernet port powered by dual-core Realtek 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 and tools required to install/replace drives

Typical Price: $300  Shop Amazon

Introduction

If you're in the market for an entry-level 4-bay NAS, Synology's DS418j is the latest addition to our NAS charts. The DS418j appears to be a replacement for the DS416j, which I reviewed earlier this year along with the DS416. Although the DS416j no longer appears in Synology's product lineup, it's still readily available online. Synology's "j" series NASes are entry level products aimed at the Personal/Home market. Models without a suffix are part of the Value Series targeted at the Home/Workgroup market.

The DS418j looks almost identical to its predecessor, the DS416j. However, there are three major differences. The DS418j is powered by a Realtek dual-core CPU vs. dual-core Marvell CPU. The DS418j ships with 1GB of RAM - double the amount in the DS416j. Finally, the DS418j features two USB 3.0 ports. The DS416j has one USB 3.0 and one USB 2.0 ports.

For this review, it seemed logical to compare the DS418j and DS416j. But I also decided to include the QNAP TS-431P in the comparisons, as it's currently priced within a few dollars of the DS416j. I also thought it would be interesting to see how the three NASes, each with a different manufacturer's brand of dual-core CPU, would compare.

The chart below, generated from the NAS Finder, shows the basic differences among the three NASes. A complete comparison of these three NASes is here. You'll note that both Synology NASes have a single Gigabit Ethernet port, but the TS-431P has two Gigabit Ethernet ports that support load balancing, failover and link aggregation.

Synology DS418j, QNAP TS-431P, and DS416j feature comparison

Synology DS418j, QNAP TS-431P, and DS416j feature comparison

The callouts and LED indicator key chart below shows the front and rear panel layouts for the DS418j. The single Gigabit Ethernet port indicator is on the front panel and indicates only link/activity/no network. The DS418j has two USB 3.0 ports - both located on the rear panel.

The DS418j does not support hot swappable drives. Like its DS416j sibling, drives are accessed by removing four thumbscrews and flipping down a rear panel. The disks are secured in disk trays with screws. You can download the Hardware Installation guide here.

Synology DS418j Front & Rear panel callouts and LED indicator key

Synology DS418j Front & Rear panel callouts and LED indicator key

Inside

Once the metal case and drive trays were removed, it was relatively easy to get a photo of the DS418j's board shown below. The Realtek RTD1293 processor SoC and Gigabyte of onboard RAM are covered by a metal plate that is coupled to the heatsink above it via thermal pads.

Synology DS418j board

Synology DS418j board

No datasheet for the RTD1293 was to be found. But we're guessing it is a feature-reduced version of the RTD1296 described in this article. The platform is based on a 64 bit ARM53 core. Gigabit Ethernet PHY, USB 3.0 ports and two SATA ports appear to be on the SoC. We found an ASM1061 two port SATA controller (upper right corner of the photo) for the other two ports.

The table below shows the key component summary comparison for the Synology DS418j, the QNAP TS-431P, and the DS416j

  Synology DS418j QNAP TS-431P Synology DS416j
CPU Realtek RTD1293 @ 1.4 GHz dual-core 64 bit ARM53 Annapurna Labs Alpine AL-212 @ 1.7 GHz dual-core Marvell ARMADA 388 88F6828 @ 1.3 GHz dual-core
RAM 1 GB 1 GB DDR3 Micron MT41K256M8DA-125 (x4) 512 MB
Flash ? 512 MB Macronix MX30UF4G18AB ?
Ethernet In RTD1293 Atheros AR8035A Gigabit Ethernet PHY (x2) Marvell 88E1514
USB 3.0 In RTD1293 Etron Tech EJ188H USB 3.0 host controller In CPU
Table 1: Key component summary

The DS418j drew 19 W with four of our stock WD Red 1 TB (WD10EFRX) spun up and 9 W in power save mode with the drives spun down. By comparison, with the same complement of installed drives, the DS416j drew more power (27W) in active mode and slightly less power (7 W) in power save mode. In active mode, over the course of a full year, that amounts to a 70KW saving. Fan and drive noise was rated very low with no noticeable fan or drive noise.

For RAID 5 rebuild, there was no option to skip a bad block check. RAID 5 rebuild time took ~ 3 hours for the parity consistency check for a 4X1TB array.

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