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Synology DiskStation DS414 review

Gordon Kelly

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Synology DiskStation DS414

Summary

Our Score:

9

User Score:

Pros

  • As fast as Gigabit Ethernet
  • Easy to setup & use
  • Tool-less drive bays
  • Dual USB 3.0 ports added

Cons

  • No physical display
  • No integrated wireless
  • No single comprehensive smartphone app

Key Features

  • Dual Core Marvell Armada XP 1.33GHz CPU
  • 2x USB 3.0
  • 2x Gigabit Ethernet
  • Link Aggregation
  • 1x USB 2.0
  • Tool-less drive bays
  • Manufacturer: Synology
  • Review Price: £374.99

What is the Synology DiskStation DS414?

Synology’s consumer and SMB focused NAS is the successor to the popular four bay DS413 and features significant hardware upgrades and an aggressive price tag. The talking point is the wholly new chipset with the company switching from Freescale or Marvell and Synology claims this will mean a breakthrough in performance.

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DS414 2

Synology DiskStation DS414 – Design

On the outside little has changed from its predecessor, but this isn’t a problem as Synology’s refined NAS designs are some of the best in the industry. As such the DS414 is both minimalist and modern and at just 233 x 203 x 165mm and 2.02Kg (unpopulated) it is compact.

We’re also a fan of the matt finish Synology uses on most sides, which resists dust and fingerprints – the former being pertinent for NAS drives as they tend to be setup and left for long periods. The removable gloss facia opts out, but does provide simple access to the drives without the need for hinges that may warp or break in future.

The front also sports Synology’s quick copy USB port for adding content from external hard drives. The downside is it uses USB 2.0 when both ports on the rear have been upgraded to USB 3.0.

The DS414 also fits two large 92mm fans on the rear, but only one is used at a time to keep noise down and to provide a backup should one fail. Yes there’s fan redundancy! Just below the fan is a pair of Gigabit Ethernet ports which we’ll get to later. An omission is the lack of eSATA support carried over from the DS413. This isn’t vital given the rise of USB 3.0, but it is a shame for users with legacy equipment.

Lastly we come to perhaps the best bit of the DS414: tool-less drive bays. The bays are highly flexible, which can make them feel flimsy, but this is simply to let them to bend around both 3.5in and 2.5in drives and they would be tough to break. The system allows drives to be swapped within a minute sees Synology catch up with Drobo and Netgear who have offered this for some time.

One grumble we do have is Synology’s resistance in fitting a display to provide at-a-glance drive information. Consequently this data must be accessed via software, but it does keep the price down.

Synology DiskStation DS414 – Features

So with such a promising external hardware what lies inside? The headlines go to the switch of chipset with Synology dumping the Freescale 1.067GHz dual core CPU in the DS413 for a Marvell Armada XP (MV78230) 1.33GHz floating point CPU. This is backed up by 1GB DDR3 RAM and support for up to 16TB (4x 4TB HDDs) of storage. A full list of supported drives can be found here.

RAID support is comprehensive with Basic, JBOD, RAID 0, RAID 5, RAID 6 and RAID 10 along with ‘Synology Hybrid RAID’ (SHR). SNR supports both volume expansion by both adding a hard drive and by adding a larger hard drive. Just RAID 5 otherwise supports both while SNR also optimizes volume size using only what it needs for data redundancy rather than simply mirroring the drives. It is Synology’s answer to Netgear’s proprietary industry changing X-RAID.

DS apps

As with every Synology NAS, the DS414 also supports the company’s impressive DiskStation Manager (DSM) web-based user interface. This brings a lorry load of functionality including granular disk management, Active Directory, LDAP, DLNA and iTunes Server support plus native file sharing. Crucially it also integrates with a numerous Android, iOS and Windows Phone apps that offer remote video, audio, photo and file access.

The issue with the latter is each has its own app (DS video, DS file, DS audio, DS photo, DS finder) and we do wish Synology would make a single comprehensive app rather than forcing us to install them all.

One final grumble is Synology’s continued reluctance to integrate Wi-Fi. It isn’t alone and the DS414 does support an array of third-party dongles (full list here), but with 802.11ac starting to proliferate and capable of giving Gigabit Ethernet a run for its money we’d like to see this built into more NAS by default. Especially since dongles’ limited space for antennas mean they never do justice to Wi-Fi standards.

bla

October 30, 2013, 10:52 pm

Is this just an expensive hard drive for putting music on?

Gordon Kelly

November 1, 2013, 1:39 am

No. But reading it will tell you that much ;)

Andy Race

November 1, 2013, 7:13 am

No, it cooks, cleans, drives you to work and does, other things.

d7851

November 1, 2013, 8:44 am

Is the speed relevant when eg streaming an ISO movie file to Windows 7 MCE or XBMC using the SMB protocol ? I currently use WD My Book Live drives. Can anyone shed light on this question ?

Mark B

November 2, 2013, 3:43 pm

Nope, far more than that. You get built-in schemes for data redundancy (that's what RAID is), data / drive management software, and warnings about failing drives before they go completely.

And they're cheap enough to buy two, to use the second one for backing up the first.

They're not perfect, but will protect you from most data loss failures. And they look more reliable than Drobo, based on reviews of the DS412+ and DS413. I've had two Drobo 5N boxes fail in the 4 months since I bought the first one. Not going there again.

Ghost26

November 2, 2013, 9:39 pm

"LA equipment is rare and no networking maker we reached out to could provide us with the equipment to test this, "
Lol. Any Cisco managed switch support 802.3ad for dynamic link aggregation. SG300 small business switches and 2960s manage the 802.3ad.
You certainly not search very far....

Gordon Kelly

November 5, 2013, 12:57 am

It's not that the equipment is not available - though we were unable to get test equipment - the biggest question is the practicality of cost.

MikkaMakkaMoo

November 7, 2013, 11:16 am

No the speed isn't relevant for streaming video. The review benchmark achieved 896Mbps (megabits/second) which far exceeds even Blu-ray's maximum bitrate of 54Mbps.

Having said that, I'm not sure the benchmark simulates multiple clients reading from different parts of the disk(s). But I suspect this machine is powerful to cope with most home users' needs more than adequately. Perhaps you could ask on the Synology support forums?

Cisco Guy

December 1, 2013, 3:49 pm

Look at the market. SMB fits and many would use a 2960. The ability to have faster access for an entire office is welcome. Heck, even in the home for the work at home parent and streaming media to the TV. It's only a 300 us dollar switch!

Jason

January 1, 2014, 7:56 pm

What does the lack of "on chip transcoding" mean? How will it affect a home user that may want to stream videos from a NAS box to a smart TV or to a tablet or other computers??

Jay bee

January 29, 2014, 3:58 pm

The really great thing that sets Synology apart from the rest is their tech support which is head of the pack. If it was not for this, then Netgear would be pushing them off their top spot, as Netgear make some top kit at significantly better prices, and their own tech support is no slouch either. Unfortunately Netgear limit their support and just seeing a limit puts me off. I guess i only ever called their tech support once in the three years i was using their kit anyway, which was outside their limit and that time they were pretty cool about it.

I have just bought 4 x DS513+'s so fingers crossed and i hope Synology live up to their reputation.

Søren Holte

August 2, 2014, 6:04 am

You need 10Gbe if you want to go beyond Gigabit speed between server and one single host. What you write about LInk Aggregation is not correct and simply not possible

rodpedja

September 2, 2014, 2:38 pm

More than 65 people reported defective units. Check this thread in the Synology forums http://forum.synology.com/enu/... . Synology has not acknowledged this problem yet.

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