In the recent past we have looked at Synology latest ‘DS’ series 5 and 6 bay Network Attached Storage appliances and walked away impressed with both. With their combination of good (Intel) to very good (AMD) processors and enough bays to make higher levels of RAID protection a viable option, both solutions are excellent choices for many groups of buyers. With that said, for some, even 6 bays are just not going to be enough. Be it a need for even larger RAID arrays (100to120TB vs. 160TB of raw storage capacity), multiple arrays/pools/etc. (e.g. 1×4 vs 2×3 vs 2×4), better small file performance, or even just better ‘future proofing’ a good 8 NAS appliance is arguably a much better starting point than 6 bay devices. With that said most home consumers do not need, want, nor desire a 1U or 2U (or larger) rack mounted NAS device. They simply want a NAS appliance that does not cost a fortune, does not sound like a jet engine, can be placed darn near anywhere in the home (or place of work), and also offers more room to grow. Put another way they simply want a slightly more expensive ‘bigger brother’ version of their 4, 5 or 6-bay NAS appliance of choice. That is what the larger DS series has always tried to offer, and is what the $950 DS1821+ promises to do. Offer more without breaking your budget… too badly.
Even with just a quick glance at the specifications one can see that the DS1821+ can indeed be considered a DS1621+ with two extra bays attached. Both models use the same AMD Ryzen V1500B CPU. Both come with (only) 4GB of ECC RAM that can be upgraded to 32GB (16GB per DIMM). Both make use of the same 4x1GbE connectivity. Use hot-swap drive caddies for the 2.5/3.5 Hard drives, with internally located dual NVMe M.2 ports. Both come with dual fan cooling redundancy goodness. Both offer the same upgradeability via a single PCIe 3.0×8 slot. Both even come with the same warranty, and use the same operating system. The only obvious differences are the number of hot swap drive bays each model offers, their overall dimensions… and their asking price.
Needless to say, there is one question everyone is going to ask when thinking about these two specific models. That question is, obviously, is the extra $150 the DS1821+ costs worth it over the ‘smaller’ DS1621Plus? On the surface, that answer is rather obvious… as if your budget can handle the extra up-front cost there really is no ‘obvious’ downsides. After all, a mere $150 extra does net you two additional drive bays, potentially lower noise (120mm vs 92mm fans), and possibly 33% better ‘apples to apples’ array performance, and much more flexibility. While it may be cynical and/or jaded of us the Devil they say is in the details. In the past we have seen many an 8bay NAS that internally was radically different and inferior to the smaller NAS offerings. So different that those theoretical improvements were not only wasted but never existed in the first place. Synology are actually pretty decent about not doing that but by the end of this review you will not only know if the DS1821+ is right for you, but if it is indeed a good NAS in its own right. Buckle up because it is indeed a fun ride!