Synology has been introducing a steady stream of NAS devices in the market, that cater to a wide array of customers. Anything from a media hub at home to storage upgrades in the office is taken care of through their lineup.
One of their most flexible devices however, is the 918+. Priced at AED 2,300, the 918+ may carry a modest price tag, but keep in mind, that any peripherals, including additional drives, are a separate purchase. Is it really one of Synology’s best?
Let’s find out –
The DS918+ follows the usual Synology design language of the classic black box, which is, in its own way, very aesthetic, and since you will not be physically interacting with it a lot after the setup, its the perfect sort of form factor to tuck away in the corner of your room. There are four drive bays on the front, which slide out with ease, and there is a locking feature that allows you to keep them in place. Along with the drive bays, we have the power button, led indicators for drive status, and a standard USB 3.0 port.
At the back, we have two Gigabit Ethernet ports, an eSATA port, USB 3.0 port, and a power port. The eSATA port can be used to expand the DS918+ further with Synology’s expansion unit, taking the total number of drives up to 9.
The DS918+ is a four-bay NAS system with a combined storage of 64TB. Add in the Synology expansion unit, and this rises to a mind-boggling 144TB, which in today’s world, is more than enough storage for practically anything.
One of the more interesting features of the DS918+ is the support for a system cache through one or two M.2 SSD slots. Found on the bottom of the device, the slots behave in the following manner. If one SSD is installed then the NAS creates a cache for reading data only. If two are installed, then you unlock speed benefits when both reading and writing data to the NAS.
The DS918+ comes with 4GB of onboard DDR3L RAM, with an option to take it up to 8GB with a second memory module. Keep in mind, that you cannot simply insert the memory module while the DS918+ is at work. The procedure is to first, power down the DS918+, slide out the drives, and then insert the memory module. That said, it is very highly recommended that you upgrade the RAM to 8GB, especially if you are someone who uses a lot of heavy-duty applications.
Powering the DS918+ is a quad-core Intel Celeron J3455 processor, clocking in at 1.5GHz. It’s fast enough to run most of the applications on the NAS directly, but it is advisable to pick a single task for this NAS and stick with it, such as file sharing, VPN, etc.
Synology has a reputation for launching devices that are easy to set up, and the DS918+ is no different.
1. Unbox the DS918+ 2. Insert the Drives, RAM module, SSD cache, etc according to preference 3. Boot up the DS918+ 4. Follow on-screen instructions to install the Synology OS onto the drives 5. Setup the Admin account and choose the storage configuration
Once the setup is complete, you can dive in and really get to know the DS918+, thanks to Synology’s very straightforward and easy to use OS. Built to resemble a standard desktop interface, you can quickly look at drive conditions, reconfigure file access and disk quotas, and install additional software.
There is also a huge library of applications that can be installed like you would install any app on your smartphone. Just click the ‘install’ button and you are good to go.
The DS918+ can handle more than one application working in the background, but be aware, too many applications will slow the system down and that is something you definitely do not want. Stick to one or two applications at a time to enjoy maximum performance.
As a dedicated file server, the DS918+ does pretty well. If you choose an RAID5 configuration of four 3TB WD Red drives, you should expect read speeds of around 148MB/s, and write speeds of 112MB/s. These numbers get a boost when you enable the SSD read/write cache by installing two M.2 SSDs into the bottom of the unit. Once installed, you can create a cache with just a few clicks, and once the check has completed the DS918+ handles the rest.
One of the best uses of DS918+ is surveillance. if you’ve got compatible IP cameras on your network, they can easily be added to Synology’s Surveillance Station app so you can monitor them and save any required footage. The DS918+ can also be set up as a media server and can transcode various media formats quite easily.
Synology claims that you can stream 4K content through the DS918+, but we found that its not exactly the most promising of claims. Another aspect we tested was that of VMs. The DS918+ does support the installation and use of VMs, but when you start piling on the complexity, the DS918+ starts to sweat. However, if you are using the VM in a very minimal capacity, you should expect some silky-smooth performance.
The Synology DS918+ is a solid NAS device built to last. Yes, the AED2,300 price tag and the additional drive prices may amount to a bit much, it is by far the best long term investment if you find yourself using heavy-duty applications at work or at home.