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Synology Disk Station DS409slim review

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Synology Disk Station DS409slim
  • Synology Disk Station DS409slim
  • Synology Disk Station DS409slim
  • Synology Disk Station DS409slim
  • Synology Disk Station DS409slim
  • Synology Disk Station DS409slim
  • Synology Disk Station DS409slim
  • Synology Disk Station DS409slim
  • Synology Disk Station DS409slim

Summary

Our Score:

9

As vendors find new ways to outdo each other with their desktop NAS appliances we've watched their products get bigger, faster and heavier with more with more and more disk bays. Synology's latest DS409slim shows size isn't everything as this new four-drive appliance sits in the palm of your hand making is probably the smallest of its type in the world.

Measuring a miniscule 106 x 120 x 142mm (W x H x D), the DS409slim takes advantage of the benefits of 2.5in small form factor (SFF) hard disks and has room for a quartet of them in hot-swap carriers located at the rear. The smaller drives use less power than their 3.5in counterparts and, in turn, generate less heat so cooling requirements can be reduced.

Remarkably, there is a 6cm fan located underneath the unit and this is thermally controlled. We tested using a pair of 250GB WD Scorpio Blue SATA drives and over a two-week period, we didn't notice the fan ever being switched on. In fact, the unit always remained cool to the touch so it's fair to say the DS409slim is virtually silent.

Even though the appliance's controller board is tiny it still packs in a decent specification and sports a 1.2GHz Marvell 6281 processor teamed up with 128MB of DDR2 memory. Networking looks good as you get a Gigabit Ethernet port at the rear and there are eSATA and USB 2.0 ports above with another USB 2.0 port located at the front.

The power button is found on the left side and this has a bright blue status LED. Below this is a copy button and pressing it will send the contents of a storage device connected to the front USB port to a predefined folder on the appliance.

Installation is handled smoothly by the bundled Assistant utility, which locates the appliance on the network and offers to set up a system partition on the drives and download the Linux kernel from the CD-ROM. You then move over to browser management where you'll be greeted by the slick Ajax-based Disk Station Manager which we think is one of the best designed NAS interfaces - yes, it's even better than that offered by Netgear's ReadyNAS appliances.

Your first job is to create a RAID array and you can pick from JBODs, mirrors, stripes, RAID5 with or without hot-spare, and even dual drive redundant RAID6. For performance testing, we opted for a high-speed RAID0 stripe, which only took a few minutes to create.

Where you go from here is up to you and there's a huge choice of options as the DS409slim is endowed with all the features offered by Synology's larger appliances. Windows, Linux and Mac clients are on the guest list and access can be secured using a local user and group database or AD authentication. You can restrict the amount of space they can use by applying quotas, and for FTP services you can use encrypted transmissions and set bandwidth usage limits on uploads and downloads.

Kebab

June 29, 2009, 2:38 pm

I thought "YES! This is my next NAS for £300!"


Then I saw it uses stupid, expensive and lower capacity 2.5" drives instead of the very, very cheap large capacity 3.5" that I already own.





Plus, what about bit-torrent and HTTP downloading?

Kebab

June 29, 2009, 2:39 pm

Ooh - just saw the screenshots, it does have HTTP downloading.

BobaFett

June 29, 2009, 3:31 pm

@Kebab, check out the non-slim Synology DS409 available at Scan for an extra £34.50 if you want to use 3.5" drives (it also supports 2.5" drives). 3.5" drives are much better value for money but I for one, am tempted by the benefits of having a cooler and quieter device even if the disks cost nearly twice as much per GB.

Kanu

June 29, 2009, 4:29 pm

2.5" drives are smaller and cooler than 3.5" drives. They will likely hit 1TB in size in the consumer market in the next 6-8 months, so are a good oprion for a consumer NAS, where most people dont need more than 2tb anyway.





Also there will be a few outlier people who might even take these untis and stick SSDs in them. Expensive, but an interesting and silent option.

Kebab

June 29, 2009, 5:41 pm

Cooler and quieter meh! Bung it in a cupboard! It's a NAS box - you dont need to have it local, just stick it under the stairs. 2.5" is only useful for SSDs these days in anything other than a notebook, not mass storage.





For an extra £35, that's QNAP TS-409 territory, or even Netgear XRAID for not much more that does support RAID expansion. 1TB Eco/Green drives are cool and quiet enough already, and a good price at ebuyer.

Keithe6e

June 29, 2009, 10:20 pm

Looks good, but does this have the similar feature of X-Raid that the Netgear has?, the X-Raid is such a good feature of the Netgear, start small and grow as HD's get cheaper is such a bonus. I've recently got the Netgear and the fans are certainly audible, but then I'm putting it in the loft anyway so not an issue, also with the WD Green power HD's I wonder what Power consumption difference they would be compared to the 2.5's.

Tony Walker

June 30, 2009, 4:07 am

Try again.





Gotta call foul on the testing. You cannot claim it's cool and quiet when you only put 50% of the drives in there.





Must object to you running those as a RAID 0 too. Very, very, few people would run a NAS in RAID 0 so surely it would have been rather better to run it in RAID 1 to see what the numbers were like in that mode.

Kanu

July 3, 2009, 9:34 pm

Actually I disagree that few people will run this in RAID O. First of all many people using NASs dont use all the drives. With the 2.5" drives you are looking at 2TB max in RAID O, maybe 1Tb if you just use 2 drives.





RAID is not a backup strategy, however at these capacity sizes, online backip services are quite relevant.





So RAID 1 and backup via online service would make this a nifty device. Synology would be smart to market it that way.

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