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Synology DS215j review

Gordon Kelly

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Reviewed:

Awards

  • Recommended by TR

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DS215j
  • DS215j
  • DS215j  2
  • DS215j 3
  • DS215j setup
  • DS215 speed
  • DS215 speed noise
  • UI

Summary

Our Score:

9

Pros

  • The fastest budget two-bay NAS so far
  • Simple setup
  • Class-leading UI

Cons

  • Slightly noiser than other Synology NAS
  • No tool-less drive installation

Key Features

  • 2x 3.5in SATA HDD Bays
  • Synology Hybrid RAID (SHR)
  • Marvell Armada 375 Dual Core 800MHz CPU
  • 1x USB 3.0, 1x USB 2.0
  • 1x Gigabit LAN
  • 512MB RAM
  • Manufacturer: Synology
  • Review Price: £138.00

What is the Synology DS215j?

This the latest in Synology’s highly successful range of ‘j’ budget network-attached storage (NAS) devices, and a tweaked two-bay version of the hugely impressive single-bay DS115j. But does it scale up well?

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Synology DS215j – Design

Apart from being slightly bigger, from a design perspective the DS215j is virtually identical to its smaller stable mate. In fact it's almost identical to the last few generations of NAS in Synology’s j range.

That isn't necessarily a bad thing. The j range always comes in white, which makes it a little more living-room friendly than the imposing black finish found on most NAS and, despite having an entirely plastic chassis, it's sturdy and well built. There is some flex to the sides, but you're unlikely to be subjecting it to much abuse.

Furthermore at 225.5 x 165 x 100mm and 880g (unpopulated) the DS215j is extremely compact and light for a NAS that can hold two 3.5in HDDs. Like all Synology NAS there's no display, but Status, LAN and disk-activity lights tell you all the basics you need to know.

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DS215j 2

Synology DS215j – Features

Given the jump to dual bays, the DS215j does offer a slight performance bump compared to the DS115j. This comes in the form of 512MB RAM – double that of the DS115j – but otherwise little's changed.

There's still the same Marvell Armada 375 dual core 800MHz CPU which has long punched above its weight, and familiar connectivity with a single Gigabit Ethernet port, one USB 3.0 and one USB 2.0, all positioned on the back.

There's also the same 92 x 92mm fan as the DS115j, a limitation of its thinner body compared to the 120 x 120mm fans on the larger four-bay NAS, as big fans spin more slowly.

That aside, like every Synology NAS, the DS215j gets full access to all the company’s currently class-leading functionality. This includes Synology Hybrid RAID (SHR) for dynamic volume expansion, the superb DiskStation Manager (DSM) interface and full compliance with Synology’s Android and iOS apps, remote media access and app library.

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DS215j setup

Synology DS215j – Setup

So on paper the DS215j makes a solid start, though you'll notice its budget roots during the hardware setup.

Unlike more premium Synology NAS, the DS215j follows the j range’s slightly more ungainly hard drive installation system. This means the chassis itself splits in two to expose the bays and, while drives slot straight in, there's no tool-less lock, so you'll need a screwdriver to secure each one in place.

In fairness this only adds a few minutes to the installation and it isn’t something you’ll be doing often in future.

The good news is after that Synology’s so far unequalled software setup kicks in. Once powered up, users simply type ‘find.synology.com’ into a browser and it automatically detects the NAS and begins the setup wizard. Here it downloads the latest software, lets you choose your RAID type – Basic, JBOD, RAID 0 and 1 are also supported – and your username and password.

It takes little more than 10 minutes to set up drives – it supports drives up to 8TB at present – and after that you find yourself inside DSM which, for our money, is the most powerful and intuitive NAS UI currently available. It mimics the look of OS X and incorporates glance-able widgets and natural language search. Even novices will feel at home.

UI

ProfBriggs

November 26, 2014, 9:07 pm

Somewhat confused with all the comparisons to the DS115j if anything the DS215j is an updated version of the DS213j. It would be more interesting to see a comparison with the DS214, which though more expensive seems similarly specced.

Also the capacity is 12 tb not 8 tb.

MattMe

November 27, 2014, 10:35 am

Whilst I agree that a comparison to the DS214 would be more interesting from my perspective, I'm not at all surprised to see this compared to the DS115j, as it it purely a 2-bay version of that device.

The Synology site does off quite a good comparison tool as well.

TheOriginalNoseBleed

December 1, 2014, 11:53 am

would this be powerful enough for a plex server streaming video yo a Xbox one as I've heard certain synologys arnt powerful enough and I can't get any info anywere thx

jesus online

December 21, 2014, 3:42 pm

where is the external storage support? it only has usb, so no support for fast formats like eSata, FireWire or thunderbird

Michael W

February 4, 2015, 1:32 am

512MB RAM, non-expandable, in 2015. It's why Synology boxes drive me crazy because you're usually playing at the bare minimum for running just a few apps.

Michael W

February 4, 2015, 1:34 am

This NAS is nowhere near powerful enough to do transcoding of any kind. The cheapest that can do it is the DS214play (Intel chips only) and even that has its limitations. Plex words on the play but without the very limited transcoding chip (and no DTS sound), you're running near the maximum CPU when it works unless you're transcoding SD video. It's only good enough to serve media so that a transcoding program like Plex can be run elsewhere, e.g. on your PC.

smithmm

December 2, 2015, 4:57 am

USB 3 on board

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