Introduction & Specifications
Today we are reviewing Synology’s latest NAS, the DS215j. The DS215j is a home user oriented model and receives some welcome upgrades over its predecessor including a dual core ARM9 processor and USB3.0 support. It fully utilizes the latest features of the Disk Station Manager 5.1 software.
The Synology DS215j is a 2-bay NAS designed to be the storage heart of today’s increasingly interconnected multi-device digital home. NAS devices have typically been the domain of businesses and power users, but these days with the ever increasing power and numbers of mobile and networked devices, consumption and volume of digital media and the need for data portability and security, a NAS is becoming a very smart addition to a digital household. A basic external HDD doesn’t cover the bases of many home users anymore and so a NAS device like the Synology DS215j is a cost effective and powerful solution for the heart of a home media network. Be it media sharing, backing up or cloud storage.
Now let’s have a look at the key specs.
The key feature here is the addition of a dual core Marvell Armada 375 CPU. This is an ARM Cortex A9 SoC that brings with it a dedicated floating point unit. The inclusion of a floating point unit helps with things like thumbnail generation and previewing.
We’ve got 512Mb of RAM, support for 6tb hard drives and the welcomed inclusion of a USB 3.0 port. Synology tell us that as HDD’s with capacities larger than 6tb become commonly available, the DS215j will be validated to support them. This gives a nice peace of mind for future upgrades should you need more space for that expanding library of 4K content!
The DS215J supports a long list of network protocols, ensuring cross platform support between Windows, OSX and Linux, as well as iOS, Android and windows phone platforms.
Other key features include up to 5 user VPN support, print server capabilities, DLNA support, peer to peer file sharing and FTP amongst others.
The DS215J keeps many of the impressive cloud support features of its predecessor, with multiple platform synchronization options and support for popular web storage services like Dropbox, Google Drive, MS OneDrive and Baidu amongst others.
A Closer Look
Let’s now move onto some pictures.
The DS215J comes securely packaged with its own carry handle and enough internal protection to survive the mishandling of a careless courier.
The accessories list is pretty standard, with a multi-region/voltage power adapter, region specific AC power cable, screws, good quality network cable and a quick setup guide.
And now we come to the DS215J itself.
Here we see the Synology branding doubling as some additional ventilation. The status LED’s are pretty self-explanatory, with the power button being located towards the bottom. The LED lighting isn’t too bright, stopping those eyeball burning flashes that some manufacturer’s LEDs sometimes make.
Moving around to the rear of the unit, we see the exhaust for the single 80m fan, as well as a blue colored USB 3.0 port, a USB 2.0 port, LAN port and AC adapter input. On the right is a Kensington security slot.
Overall the design is clean, refreshing and modern. It is little changed from previous Synology DS21x models, but really there is little reason to.
DS215j System Setup
Installation is not exactly hassle free compared to a tool-less setup, though we have rubber grommets and the extra minute taken to screw the drives in place is an easy sacrifice to ensure they can never come loose.
Once the hard drives are installed, initializing the system is a pain free process, simply connecting the NAS to the network and entering find.synology.com into a browser. The second step is to point the browser to the DSM .pat file. The disks are initialized and formatted, with the whole process taking about 5 or 6 minutes. The user has the choice of RAID setup, with RAID 0, 1 and JBOD options available.
The next step is to set a server name, username and password.
Once the setup is complete, the DSM operating system is shown and you are free to choose applications depending on the usage scenario, or you can download a Synology recommended application suite.
Arguably the most important distinguishing feature of any NAS is the quality of its software solution. All the greatest specs in the world don’t matter if you need an engineering degree to use them. The DS215j is supported by the new Disk Station Manager 5.1 (DSM 5.1). This software brings new features and welcome updates following some acknowledged vulnerability issues with malware on earlier versions.
DSM 5.1 is a web based operating system bringing all the features of the NAS into one application. It works like any OS allowing additional applications to be installed depending on the user’s requirements.
Visiting the Synology support page here brings a list of dozens of packages, utilities and apps covering most conceivable home user requirements including android apps and surveillance packages.
We have to say, the Synology software remains an excellent piece of software, and greatly adds to the value and overall usability of the DS215j.
Test Setup, Results & Conclusion
- Intel i7 4770K @ 4Ghz
- MSI Z97 Mpower MAX
- G.Skill 2×4 Gb 2400Mhz 9-12-12-28
- MSI HD 7850 Power Edition
- Antec HCP-1200 PSU
To test raw file transfer speed, we used a large 720p rip of the recent Brazilian Formula One Grand Prix at about 5.5Gb in size. We saw a peak write speed of 92Mb/s and a read speed of 95 Mb/s.
Small file writes drop off as expected in any system, however, reading and writing a 1Gb of small jpeg images still providing 32.9Mb/s and 26.2 MB/s respectively. This kind of scenario shows where the additional memory makes a difference.
The DS215j won’t bother you in terms of noise levels. The included fan is effectively silent and in fact the noise of the drives themselves is more noticeable.
We were highly impressed with Synology’s latest effort in the affordable 2 bay NAS market. Whilst it is not a revolutionary device, it builds upon the strengths of its predecessor with the addition of a dual core CPU and USB 3.0. We have always been impressed with Synology’s DSM software and can easily recommend the Synology DS215j NAS for the center of a home user’s digital storage needs.
- Excellent operating system software
- Solid performance
- Easy setup
- Quiet cooling fan
- Not a tool-less installation