Synology has carved out a niche for itself in the NAS segment with its affordable two-bay solutions. The Taiwanese brand’s two-bay NAS enclosures are aimed at first-time buyers or home users looking for a centralized storage solution for all of their media, files, and documents.
That’s the target audience of the DS216j. The successor to DS215j, the DS216j retains the white color scheme, which serves to highlight it from a slew of black boxes. Even though this is being aimed at the budget segment, the NAS exudes a premium feel, and has the same stellar build quality as the rest of Synology’s range of enclosures.
The DS216j is powered by a dual-core Marvell Armada 385 88F6820 CPU clocked at 1GHz, an incremental increase from the 800MHz Armada 375 used in the DS215j. RAM remains the same at 512MB, but this time around Synology has included two USB 3.0 ports at the back (the DS215j had just one). There’s Gigabit Ethernet, a single 92mm fan, and you get Synology’s latest DiskStation Manager 6.0 (more on that later).
The front of the NAS houses a power button and series of LEDs for monitoring LAN connectivity, and hard disk status. You have the ability to tweak the LED brightness, or switch off the LEDs entirely should you wish to do so. Being a budget NAS, you don’t get the pull-out trays that are common in Synology’s costlier offerings. The drives are mountable onto the frame of the enclosure, and the mounting bays are resistant to vibrations.
Drive installation itself barely takes five minutes, as all you need to do is insert the drives into their bays and attach the screws. The DS216j accommodates 20TB in total (10TB x 2), which should be more than enough.
Once the drives are installed, it’s a ten-minute process to get Synology’s excellent DiskStation Manager set up on the NAS.
DiskStation Manager is the standout feature of Synology’s NAS enclosures. It offers a ton of extensibility, and has robust services that make it easy for you to share and view your movies, TV shows, photos, and documents from anywhere.
DSM 6.0 doesn’t have a ton of new features, with Synology looking to tweak the overall experience than offer unnecessary utilities. That said, you do get a new mail server in the form of MailPlus, better document collaboration tools, new virtualization options, more cloud sync services, and enhancements to Video Station and Cloud Station. Photo Station has picked up the ability to watermark photos, you can now easily save bookmarks and add notes to Note Station through the Chrome extension, and Video Station has received a UI overhaul that makes it easier to use. The latest iteration of DSM is 6.0.2, which includes a host of bug and stability fixes.
A highlight in DSM 6.0 is offline video transcoding, but that option is limited to Synology’s higher-priced offerings. The DS216j falls in Group 2, and as such isn’t able to transcode videos on the fly.
Synology also offers great mobile apps for Android and iOS, through which you can view your photos, videos, and sync documents from your phone. The mobile offerings are much more robust than anything else available in this space, and highlight the effort Synology has put in to make its services stand out.
For benchmarks, the DS216j was hooked up to the client machine using a Netgear GS110TP switch. Two WD Red Pro 4TB drives in RAID1 were used for testing. Before we get to the benchmarks, a quick note on power draw: the DS216j routinely drew 7W when idle, with power consumption under load going up to 20W.
To get things started off, we transferred a large directory of files with filesizes ranging from 500KB to 5MB, during which the NAS averaged 17.2MB/s. For HD video playback, we saw a 90.7MB/s, and for single file transfers, the NAS netted 83.4MB/s. For photos, we managed 12.4MB/s.
The numbers are in line with the DS216j’s intended target segment, and when combined with the rest of the NAS’ features, make it an enticing option.
The DS216j is an excellent choice if you’re looking for a centralized media server for storing your media files and documents. DSM 6.0 enables you to extend the functionality of the NAS, and the design and feature-set available makes the NAS a clear favorite in this segment. While there are several vendors in this segment, what sets Synology apart is its excellent software offerings, which include a slew of mobile apps that let you enjoy your media collection while on the go.
If you’re in the market for a NAS for under $200, you can’t go wrong with the DS216j.