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Synology DiskStation DS218+

4.9

Price

5.0/5

Features

4.8/5

Hardware

4.9/5

Craftsmanship

5.0/5

Software Quality

4.8/5

Pros

  • Dual-core Intel Celeron processor
  • Can transcode 4K video
  • Uses Btrfs Filesystem
  • Excellent bang for your buck
  • Synology's DSM software

Cons

  • 2-bay limits raid options

Intro 

Synology’s DiskStation DS218+ is one of the best all-around NAS boxes. It is our #1 choice for home and small business use. With it, you’re getting an Intel Celeron J3355, modern hardware encryption, and the ability to transcode 4K video on the fly. This box is perfect for a home-media NAS or even a small business file server. Either way, you can’t go wrong with the DS218+.

Synology’s DiskStation DS218+ at a Glance

What You Need To Know About the DS218+

  • Usage: Small office and home office
  • Small footprint
  • Has an Intel Celeron processor
  • Capable of using AES-NI hardware encryption
  • Can stream and transcode 4K
  • Use Btrfs filesystem
  • Relatively inexpensive and you’re getting a great bang for your buck.

Best Usage Scenarios

  • Home users
  • Small business of 1-10 people
  • Home media enthusiasts
  • Photographers

Specs & Features


Features 

Powered by Intel – This unit has an Intel processor inside which we really like to see. This adds power and reliability to the unit. 

4K Streaming – This little box packs enough punch to stream and transcode 4K content. As 4K becomes more available it’s great to know that you’re covered with the DS218+

Btrfs File System – Up and coming filesystem that has optimized snapshots and bit rot prevention built into it. It also has some of the best recovery tools built right into it. This’ll keep all of your info safe.

Synology DiskStation Manager (DSM) – Provides great security from things like 2-step verification, AES 256-bit encryption, and a security advisor that’ll point out any weak points in your securities.

Multi-Use – Synology’s DiskStation DS218+ can be used as a file server, media server, backup server, and it’ll even record your surveillance video.

Small form factor – The DS218+ has a small footprint. This makes it much easier to keep it by your desktop or to find or pretty much where ever you want.

Specs

Dimensions (height x width x depth) 6.5 inches (165mm) x 4.25 inches (108 mm) x 9.1 inches (232.2 mm)
Weight 2.9 lbs (1.30Kg)
CPU Model Intel Celeron J3355
CPU Architecture 64-bit
CPU Frequency 2.0GHz normal operation / 2.5GHz burst frequency
CPU Cores 2
CPU Threads 2
Hardware Encryption Yes (AES-NI)
Hardware Transcoding H.264, H.265, MPEG-2, and VC-1. Max resolution: 4096 x 2160 (4K) @ 30 FPS
RAM Type DDR3L
Out of Box RAM 2 GB
Expandable up to 6 GB
Drive Bays 2
Expansion Unit Compatibility No
Single Volume Max 108 TB
Hot Swappable Yes
USB 3.0 3
eSATA 1
RJ-45 1GbE Lan 1

** For a more complete list of specs see Synology’s site here

In-Depth Look

Hardware

Intel Celeron J3355

The Intel Celeron J3355 chip is a great chip to be running in a NAS box. It is capable of streaming 4K content while also working as a file server. With its dual-core technology, you’ll be able to use the DS218+ in multiple ways simultaneously. 

The chip itself runs at 2.0GHz but can burst to 2.5 GHz when needed.

DDR3L Ram

The Synology DS218+ comes standard with 2 GB of RAM out of the box. We found that the DS218+ worked great when being used simultaneously with four people. And if the need arises it can be expanded to 6 GB for fairly cheaply. Here’s the chip that you’d need!

Synology DiskStation DS218+ Review - photo of internal RAM slot

If you do end up getting more RAM the installation process is very simple. You shut the DS218+ down and remove the drive brackets. There inside is the port you need to upgrade. Slide the RAM chip in and you’re good to go!

Drive Bracket Construction

Synology DiskStation DS218+ Review - Hard drive bracket with removeable mounting strips

I love Synology’s drive bracket construction. The bracket itself is made out of durable plastic. There are two securing strips on the side that you pull off before you place the drive and then snap them in place when you need to secure the drive. This is an intuitive and easy to use system that makes it easy to swap a drive out. Since this is a hot-swappable unit it’s good to have such an easy drive mounting system.

Connections

Not only does the DS218+ have a standard 1GbE RJ-45 (ethernet) port, but it also has 3 USB ports and an eSATA port. You can connect devices through those ports and extend your storage options. You can even connect an extra drive to serve as copies and mirrors of your data. Unfortunately, the eSATA port isn’t compatible with Synology’s expansion unit. But it can be used with other external drives.

Synology DiskStation DS218+ Review - Rear photo of DS218+ with views of ports

Software

Synology’s software is some of the best that we’ve tried.  It’s easy to use and easy to set up. There are 57 Synology apps listed in its package repository. That’s not counting the third-party apps that are available. 

A list of synology supported apps that can be installed on the DS218+

Security Advisor

Synology’s security advisor on the DS218+ checks for malware, hardware issues, proper account settings, network configuration, and it checks for system updates. We found this a delight to use as it takes a look at many aspects of the NAS secuirty and it combines it all into one window. 

4K Transcoding through Media Server & Plex

Through our transcoding tests, we found that the DiskStation Ds218+ can most definitely transcode on the fly, but it does max out the CPU while doing so. We uploaded a 4K movie and transcoded down to 1080p and 780p and found in both instances it ran at around 98% of total CPU usage. This isn’t really a deal-breaker because as soon as we started to copy a file simultaneously the DS218+ would speed boost and get the file uploaded. Since the movie buffered we didn’t notice anything happening in terms of watching the movie. As for how fast the file copied we saw a small delay that didn’t bother us much. 

As for streaming 4K content, this NAS didn’t break a sweat. We found it cruising at 20% CPU usage and that was while we copied a couple more movie files over.

Synology’s DS218+ comes standard with a media server that works quite well. We prefer to use Plex, which in our opinion is one of the best media servers available. It is available for install from Synology’s third part repository. This will then serve your media to whatever plex supported devices on your network. 

Warranty

The Synology DiskStation DS218+ comes with a 2-year limited warranty. That’s a pretty great warranty since most brands don’t offer longer than a year.

Hard Drives We Recommend

Western Digital 3TB NAS Hard Drive

Western Digital 2TB NAS Hard Drive

Western Digital 1TB NAS Hard Drive

Seagate IronWolf 2TB NAS Hard Drive

Need help setting up a Synology NAS? Check out this book!

Media Server Will Need More RAM

The more that we use Plex with the DiskStation DS218+ the more we see the need for additional RAM. With just two people using Plex we saw a spike from 20% RAM usage to around 80%. That effect lingers until you restart your NAS drive. This isn’t an isolated incident. We’ve seen this happen with NAS drive as well as dedicated Plex servers. So to save you a bit of trouble and time you should probably just pull the trigger on that RAM. We found it on Amazon for less than $30 US. We also included a link above to that RAM.

Conclusion

The DiskStation DS218+ is a fantastic NAS with a wide array of uses. With its extensive software options, Btrfs file system, and its multiple connection options you can put this thing to work quickly. It can also grow with you. If you find yourself with more demanding tasks the DS218+ has an upgradeable ram. It’s also super easy to setup. It didn’t take us long at all to get things up and running.