We would like to thank Synology for supplying the review sample.
Synology vitalized their SMB (Small and Medium Business) product category with the addition of the DiskStation DS213+ NAS. It only takes two disks, which may look like very little for SMB environments, but offers a high-performance through its dual-core processor with a floating-point unit and has enough I/O ports, including two USB 3.0 ports and a single eSATA port, to allow for external HDDs to be attached, which easily expands its storage capacity.
Synology speaks of an average speed of 84 MB/s under RAID 1 configuration and claims up to 110 MB/s reading speed. These transfer speeds sound quite high for RAID 1, but we will find out whether they approximate reality through our tests. Synology also claims that the DS213+ only consumes 2.64 W in system hibernation, 10 W in HDD hibernation, and 22.2 W during normal operations. These numbers are indeed very low and clearly show why most users prefer a NAS over a regular PC running a freeNAS operating system.
Let's take a quick look at its most interesting features before we begin our evaluation of the DS213+. It is, for starters, equipped with 512MB of DDR3 RAM and can accommodate two 3.5" or 2.5" SATA II HDDs. It is also equipped with two USB 3.0, one USB 2.0, one eSATA, and one SD card port. Its dimensions are compact, and its fan with a 92 mm diameter only emits, according to Synology, a noise level of 19.9 dBA. This is apparently the minimum noise-level of the NAS. It would be interesting to have some information on its normal noise output, and we will provide such information as part of this review. You can also install the DSM operating system directly through the Internet via the Web Assistant software, which is convenient because it ensures that you have the latest DSM version installed.
|Synology DS213+ Specifications|
|Processor||Dual Core 1.067 GHz ( Freescale P1022)|
|Operating System||Embedded Linux|
|Memory||512 MB DDR3|
|Storage||2x 3.5"/2.5"* SATA II|
*(With optional 2.5" Disk Holder)
|RAID Levels:||Single Disk, JBOD, RAID 0, 1|
|Capacity||up to 8 TB (disks not included)|
|iSCSI||Target & Initiator|
|Networking||1x 10/100/1000 Mbit Ethernet|
|Additional Connectors||USB 3.0 Port X 2, USB 2.0 Port X 1, eSATA Port X 1, SD Card Port X 1|
|Dimensions||165(H) x 108(W) x 233.2(D) mm|
|Power Consumption||Sleep: 2.64 W|
HDD Hibernation: 10 W
In operation: 22.2 W
(with two Seagate Barracuda LP ST31000520AS 1TB 5900 RPM installed)
|Power Supply||External, 72 W, 100-240 V (EDACPOWER ELEC. Model EA10721A-120)|
|Fan||1x 92 mm|
| Price excluding VAT|
(at the time of the review)
A dual-core CPU, more specifically a Freescale P1002 (PowerPC based), is the brains of the NAS. This CPU integrates a security engine that supports all popular encryption algorithms. The installed memory looks small for today's standards, but we are pretty sure that it will fully cover the needs of this device.
Supported RAID levels are restricted by the two-disk limit. The most likely raid configuration is RAID 1, but the storage capacity can reach 8 TB if the user prefers RAID 0 or JBOD (Just a Bunch of Drives).
There is only one Ethernet port on the DS213+, although we are used to finding two on high-end NAS servers. The restricted space and the fact that it only takes two hot-swap HDDs probably made Synology equip it with a single port. Thankfully, the NAS has enough USB ports of which two support the new USB 3.0 protocol, and the eSATA and SD card ports greatly enhance its usability.
The DS213+ is fairly compact and will easily fit everywhere in an office or at home. It's pretty light as well. Equally light is its power consumption in every mode. You can easily leave it up and running 24/7 without having to worry about your electricity bill, which is the main advantage of these NAS servers compared to regular PCs that run FreeNAS. Finding a suitable PSU that will only consume 20W during the operation of a PC is very difficult. Most normal ATX PSUs have really poor efficiency at such low loads, and you will have to use a picoPSU or a power brick along with a suitable mainboard to achieve such low energy consumption. Sure, a FreeNAS PC combination may not cost as much as a DS213+, but the NAS will save you a lot of money in the long run. The NAS also has Synology's support if a problem occurs while it operates 24 hours a day. Speaking of power: The power brick that feeds the DS213+ is made by EDACPOWER, and its model number is EA10721A-120. It can provide up to six Amps at +12V, which is enough to meet the needs of this device.
The cooling fan has a 92 mm diameter and is very quiet since it operates at very low RPM most of the time. It covers most of the rear side, so it will do a pretty good job of moving the heat out of the DS213's internals.
The NAS comes with a two-years warranty, which we find to be pretty average. We would like to see a longer warranty on these devices - especially the high-end ones. Unfortunately, both Synology and QNAP, two of the leading companies in this field, only provide two-years warranties with their products. A NAS will, on the other hand, operate 24/7, which makes a two-year warranty mean about twice as much as a two-year warranty on other hardware components (e.g. VGAs, PSUs etc.) The price of the DS213+ is high, but this device targets SMB environments and enthusiast users, which excludes the average Joe.
The NAS comes in a small box featuring a top handle to help you move it around easily. The pale green color used on the packaging matches its white background well and helps depict this product as environmentally friendly which the NAS actually is since it consumes very little energy.
On one of the two sides, we find a photo of the NAS, a features description, and a list of what is included in the bundle. On the other side are a couple icons that describe NAS functions specific to this unit in a pictorial way.
Contents & Bundle
The product is well protected by thick cardboard and a protective wrap inside the package. There is a small compartment on top. It housed - in our case - an EU-specific AC power cord.
A smaller box accommodates the rest of the bundle. The bundle includes a software disc, a quick set-up guide, two bags with screws, and the power brick.
The power brick outputs +12V and can deliver up to 6 A, which is a sufficient current output for this NAS. It is made by ETACPOWER, and its model number is EA10721A-120.
The NAS has a plastic casing featuring a dark, matt finish of good quality. Contrary to QNAP that uses brushed steel cases, Synology prefers plastic cases because plastic reduces production costs and, as such, the final price-tag of their product. When it comes to reduced retail prices, especially for NAS servers, we don't care so much about the wrapping if it is of acceptable quality. We are more interested in what it hides and protects.
At the front, we find an USB port that is, unfortunately, only USB 2.0 compliant since the faster ones are located at the rear. We also find a SD card slot, the copy and power buttons, and the LED indicators at the front. Above the HDD trays are some dots used for enumeration; however, there are no numbers or dots on the caddies themselves, which is somewhat inconvenient if you remove them frequently.
The Synology logo is engraved into the sides of the case and serves as both ventilation and advertising.
The 92 mm diameter fan occupies most of the back's real-estate. All I/O ports, here two USB 3.0, a single eSata, and a gigabit port, are located at the bottom. A K-lock and the power-input socket are there as well.
Four rubber pads on the bottom provide the necessary stability on every surface.
A look at the inside with the caddies removed.
The caddies are made of plastic and can house 3.5" and 2.5" HDDs or SSDs since the price of the latter is decreasing at a fast pace. Like the rest of Synology products we have tested in the past, this NAS features removable HDD trays that are equipped with strips of soft material to absorb disk vibrations; the HDD mounting holes feature rubber grommets for the same reason.
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