M.12 PCIe NVMe from 240GB to 1TB from $100 to $180 – you can start with one.

In the box

  • Synology DS918+, screwless four-bay
  • Power supply (proprietary to Synology)
  • 2 x LAN cables

First look

Business NSA devices are not supposed to look good. This is a matte black plastic, four-slot toaster-like device – minimal – over a metal frame. The four-bay box measures 166mm x 199mm x 223mm.

Inside is an Intel Celeron J3455 quad-core processor at 1.5/2.3GHz, 4GB DDR3-1600L (upgradable to 8GB for virtualisation and docker containers), four screwless hot-swap drive bays and two PCIe NVMe M.2 slots. Call the latter the secret sauce of this NAS’s performance.

Setup

(Windows 10 but supports macOS and Ubuntu and supports any IP based client)

Download Synology Assistant which finds the device and then installs DiskStation Manager (DSM).

Synology DS918+

I won’t go into that in-depth, but the primary advantage of a Synology NAS is its turnkey nature. As long as you have a modicum of home networking IP knowledge, then you can set it up. Or there are tens of thousands of geeks out there that know Synology Disk Station Manager and can make it hum in a very short time.

Value add

Then there are dozens of applications you can install from its Package Centre

  • Backup G Site, Office 365 and more
  • Cloud backup
  • Antivirus
  • Google Drive, DropBox, ElephantDrive and other cloud migration
  • Docker for virtual application environments
  • Nakivo Backups
  • E-mail, Calendar, Notes
  • Security camera management
  • Video and Audio Streaming
  • Virtual Machines (including Docker)
  • Plex Media Server
  • WordPress Site Hosting
  • Apache HTTP server, DNS server

A common use is to hook up to 40 IP cameras (2 free) and use it for video security.

Synology packages

What is special about the Synology DS918+?

The two M.2 slots use PCIe NVMe as high-speed cache – regrettably, not as standard storage devices like you do as the 3.5″ drives.

The typical file sizes you use dictates the minimum cache. I recommend putting in a 1TB anyway and if you start to get slowdown of larger files throw in another.

Essentially the cache allows for more efficient use of the lower-cost SATA 6 hard disks. Where it really comes into play is for repeated use where the files are already cached – it can be up to 90% faster. And it can extend hard disk drive life as they dont have to work as hard.

We achieved 116MBps sequential read/write over a 1Gbps Ethernet connection (this is the maximum you can get over that). When we added a second connection, we achieved nearly double that. Some Synology NAS devices have 10Gbps LAN connections, but your router needs to support that.

Synology speed

Ports

It has two USB 3.0 ports (one front and back) that lets you connect external hard drives, printers, and even Wi-Fi adapters. You can get 100MBps data transfer over USB 3.0 as well.

There is also a proprietary eSata connector that can add Synology’s five-bay expansion DX517 unit. We have not tested this, but it should support those drives via a 6Gbps (600MBps) connection. Again the cache will cover those drives.

Synology back

Noise/heat/power

Noise and heat depends on the drives you use. Dedicated NAS drives like the Seagate Iron Wolf will be quietest, generate less heat and use less power. We do not recommend desktop drives because they are not for 24/7/365 use.