The consumer Network Attached Storage (NAS) market has seen tremendous growth over the past few years. As the amount of digital media generated by the average household increases, 4-bay solutions based on ARM platforms are turning out to be quite attractive for home users. Low cost and power efficiency are some of the positives for these types of solutions.

Synology targets the average home user market with the j-series models. These units have traditionally provided consumers with a very budget-friendly entry-level window into the DSM (Disk Station Manager) ecosystem. With drive capacities on the increase, we have seen people move to 4-bay NAS units in order to take advantage of RAID-10 (despite the loss of effective storage space). This helps to avoid (to a certain extent) risk-prone rebuilds associated with RAID-5 arrays. We have already evaluated solutions from Western Digital (WD EX4) and LenovoEMC (ix4-300d) in this space. In late April this year, Synology introduced the DS414j to provide consumers with an alternative in this market segment.

Western Digital and LenovoEMC's solutions are based on Marvell SoCs, but Synology bucks the trend by opting for a Mindspeed Comcerto C2200 dual-core communications processor in the DS414j. The SoC has two Cortex-A9 cores running at 1.2 GHz and plenty of hardware acceleration engines. The other specifications of the DS414j are provided in the table below.

Synology DS414j Specifications
Processor Mindspeed Comcerto 2000 (2x Cortex-A9 @ 1.2 GHz)
Drive Bays 4x 3.5"/2.5" SATA 6 Gbps HDD / SSD (No Hot-Swap)
Network Links 1x 1 GbE
External I/O Peripherals 1x USB 3.0 / 1x USB 2.0
Expansion Slots None
VGA / Display Out None
Full Specifications Link Synology DS414j Full Specifications
Price $417

The DS414j runs Linux (kernel version 3.2.40). Other aspects of the platform can be gleaned by accessing the unit over SSH.

Testbed Setup and Testing Methodology

The Synology DS414j is a 4-bay unit. Users can opt for either JBOD, RAID 0, RAID 1, RAID 5, RAID 6 or RAID 10 configurations. We benchmarked the unit in RAID 5 with four Western Digital WD4000FYYZ RE drives as the test disks. Our testbed configuration is outlined below.

AnandTech NAS Testbed Configuration
Motherboard Asus Z9PE-D8 WS Dual LGA2011 SSI-EEB
CPU 2 x Intel Xeon E5-2630L
Coolers 2 x Dynatron R17
Memory G.Skill RipjawsZ F3-12800CL10Q2-64GBZL (8x8GB) CAS 10-10-10-30
OS Drive OCZ Technology Vertex 4 128GB
Secondary Drive OCZ Technology Vertex 4 128GB
Tertiary Drive OCZ Z-Drive R4 CM88 (1.6TB PCIe SSD)
Other Drives 12 x OCZ Technology Vertex 4 64GB (Offline in the Host OS)
Network Cards 6 x Intel ESA I-340 Quad-GbE Port Network Adapter
Chassis SilverStoneTek Raven RV03
PSU SilverStoneTek Strider Plus Gold Evoluion 850W
OS Windows Server 2008 R2
Network Switch Netgear ProSafe GSM7352S-200

Thank You!

We thank the following companies for helping us out with our NAS testbed:

Hardware Platform & Usage Impressions
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  • channel5 - Thursday, July 10, 2014 - link

    If you are thinking about the performance difference, then you should note that this DS414j doesn't support jumbo frame. This is not mentioned in any review I have seen and not in the Synology specs. When I cannot find the config for jumbo frame, I email support and got this answer "Due to the hardware limitation of the CPU in DS414j, jumbo frame is not supported in DS414j."
    On video file transfer to and from my old QNAP 219, I see a 30% to 40% increase in transfer speed when using jumbo frame. On this new 414j, it is just keeping up with my old QNAP. I am disappointed with it.
  • asendra - Thursday, July 10, 2014 - link

    Good to know! Thanks for the comment. Although I was already inclined to get the DS414 because some reviews I've read online, and because it supports link aggregation, which I would like to use when I upgrade my switch.

    If only they already had support for Plex Media Server (A big part of why I want a NAS), I would buy it right now, but because they don't, and It's twice the price, I still consider a HP G7 a viable option, it just Is way uglier, bigger, and less easy to get up and running...
  • peterfares - Friday, July 11, 2014 - link

    Just get the HP microserver. It doesn't take that much time to set up, is cheaper, and more powerful. I personally don't see why people would use these NAS units if they know how to DIY and get a much nicer system.
  • Beany2013 - Saturday, July 12, 2014 - link

    Peterfares - because after a whole day at work of fixing servers, I just honestly cannot be arsed building and maintaining my own NAS.

    From my own experience with a Syno DS214+, I just fire it up, configure it on the network, and dump files on it - if I want to use NFS/iSCSI/load balancing on the network, I tick a box. No programs to add, no modules to configure in detail, etc - it just works.

    I don't mind paying the extra for that level of convenience. In the same way that most mechanics might have a project car, they also have a Ford Focus for actually getting them to the workshop in the morning, I like to have reliable gear at home that I don't need to mess with, that support all the stuff I tweek - so my NAS has an iSCSI LUN that holds an Asterisk PBX instance I'm experimenting with, etc...
  • jabber - Saturday, July 12, 2014 - link

    Yep I bought a high end QNAP for a business customer. I brought it in, set it up in around 15 minutes and handed the main guy the admin password. Thats all it took. Simple and effective.

    Less time and effort means more profit for me.
  • Beany2013 - Sunday, July 13, 2014 - link

    And that is exactly why I am trying to convince my employer to go mainline on Syno stuff (I'm sure the QNAP stuff is nice, too, but I'm used to Syno DSM so less learning curve for advanced features) but they seem to think that it's better to spend four hours setting up a Windows Server box to get the CAL/Licensing margin than it is to charge an installation fee that is basically all profit.

    That, and because it's Linux based it's be 'too hard for the other engineers to learn'.

    Face - meet palm. Repeat till fade!
  • jabber - Sunday, July 13, 2014 - link

    It is amazing the reality disconnect between IT enthusiasts and real world business requirements. I would NEVER hire a hard core IT enthusiast as my main IT procurer/evangelist. It would be financial suicide. I'd keep them tucked further down the food chain where they could do less damage and away from the ordering system.

    They do tend to get carried away. I posted up on a forum once that the average data storage requirements for most small businesses (payroll/accounts/customer database/docs etc.) was actually less than 30GB. If you are a plumbing firm/Florist/Therapy centre/Financial advisor/small industrial then your storage needs are actually pretty light. They just need file sharing and centralised backup. No need for $5000 worth of server. Just a decent off the shelf NAS will do.

    I've seen some small business folks advised to invest thousands in data storage. When they have asked me for a second opinion I recommended a 16GB flash drive. Really that's all they needed.

    Not everyone and every business is creating and pushing dozens of TB of data. They are not streaming, not using remote access, VPN tech or torrenting. Media companies are pretty thin on the ground. Most needs are tiny and simple.

    It's not about what you think the customer wants. It's about working out what the customer really needs.
  • Grandal - Sunday, July 13, 2014 - link

    +1, spoken like someone who runs a business and does not live in his parents' basement
  • MTN Ranger - Friday, July 11, 2014 - link

    I have a DS413j and the package center has Plex Media Server as an option under multimedia downloads.
  • asendra - Sunday, July 13, 2014 - link

    Yes, It's the new ones (DS214, DS214+, DS414) with the Armada XP CPU the ones not supported (yet, I hope). This one has a different CPU so I'm not sure if it has support.

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