Synology introduced a new 4-bay to the market late last year with the Synology DS420+. This one has been on the shelf for quite some time here (as well as with the DS220+). Now is the time to put it to use and put it to the test. How do you like this one? You can read that here.
Let’s start with the specs. Since the specification list of the DS420+ is quite hefty, I’ll pick out some points anyway. I advise you to take a look at the specifications yourself.
CPU Model: Intel Celeron J4025
CPU Quantity: 1
CPU Architecture: 64-bit
CPU Frequency: 2-core 2.0 (base) / 2.9 (burst) GHz
Hardware Encryption Engine (AES-NI): Yes
System Memory: 2 GB DDR4 non-ECC
Total Memory Slots: 1
Maximum Memory Capacity: 6 GB (2 GB + 4 GB)
Drive Bays: 4
M.2 Drive Slots: 2 (NVMe)
Compatible Drive Type*:
3.5″ SATA HDD
2.5″ SATA HDD
2.5″ SATA SSD
M.2 2280 NVMe SSD
Maximum Single Volume Size*: 108 TB
Hot Swappable Drive: Yes
RJ-45 1GbE LAN Port: 2 (with Link Aggregation / Failover support)
USB 3.2 Gen 1 Port*: 2
Internal Drives :
Size (Height x Width x Depth): 166 mm x 199 mm x 223 mm
Weight: 2.18 kg
System Fan: 92 mm x 92 mm x 2 pcs
Brightness Adjustable Front LED Indicators: Yes
28.30 W (Access)
8.45 W (HDD Hibernation)
Main Unit X 1
Accessory Pack X 1
AC Power Adapter X 1
AC Power Cord X 1
RJ-45 LAN Cable X 2
Quick Installation Guide X 1
It is time to unpack the DS420+.
Synology supplies several items with the DS420+.
– 2x UTP cables
– 1x power cable + adapter
– Instruction manual
– Screws to fasten the HDDs/SSDs
– Keys to secure the HDDs in their bay – this way the HDDs cannot be removed from the bays (just like that)
For this review I used the following hardware:
– 4x Kingston KC600 1TB SSD,
– 2x Kingston KC2500 1TB NVMe SSD,
– 4x WD Red 6TB.
The 4-bay NAS has a black plastic finish. We are used to the shapes and colors of the Synology series by now. Still, the NAS does feel a bit ‘cheap’ plastic… at times.
The 4-bay lacks the ‘copy’ button on the front, which can be pressed when inserting a USB stick to instantly make a copy to a pre-selected folder.
The positive thing about this type of Synology NAS is that it is easy to expand with hot-swappable drives. If a disk breaks during use, pull it out and insert the new one. Synology then rebuilds the raid array – provided you use JBOD or RAID0.
The Synology logo is displayed on both the left and right. Because there is a kind of mesh in the logo, airflow is also possible through it.
Because there are two 92mm fans on the back, there is excellent airflow in the case. The HDDs remain cool during testing and intensive use.
The Synology DS420+ is equipped with two network connections (for Link Aggregation / Failover support). To the left of the network connections is a reset button – which can be pressed with a pin. Of course, the Kensington Slot, USB connection, and adapter jack are not missing.
The nice thing about a NAS like this is that it can easily be expanded with memory. For example, an additional system can be run via Docker/Virtual Machine Manager – even with dedicated memory.
The nice thing about such systems is that HDDs can easily be placed in their bay and inserted into the slots.
In addition to a memory expansion (2nd slot), the Synology DS420+ also has two NVMe slots. It is a very convenient system that can be used without screws. Unclip the two slots and push the NVMe SSDs into the slots.
I also show it briefly by unscrewing the DS420+ and sliding the cover away.
The ease of Synology’s bays, I do praise. You take out pins on the side and place the HDD in the bay. Then push the pins back in by pushing the sides back and the user … is ready.
Then the HDDs/SSDs can be pushed back into their slots.
In my previous reviews (including the following: DS416play – Dutch Review) I have shown Synology’s software in detail several times. In order not to make the review too long (again), I’ll grab some images from the other review. Because Synology uses uniform OS/software that is the same across all NASs. Does this change minimally? 😀 This is also a big advantage with the DSM because you don’t have to go through a new book every week to understand what certain software can do and how it should be set up.
Because the DS420+ doesn’t have an LCD screen that shows an IP address, I use Synology Assistant to search the DS420+ in the network. That always works properly. I also used this software to search for the DS220+ in my previous review.
Browsing the IP address will take you to the installation of the NAS. By following several steps, the system can be set up as desired.
The DS220+ can be set up in such a way, without automatic port forwarding, that it can be addressed via the internet. This is done via your Synology account. At the bottom, there is also an option to skip the step.
When selecting to do it yourself, port forwarding has to be set up manually.
Once the installation is complete, you will arrive in DSM, the operating system of Synology. In my opinion one of the better OSs of the NASs that are currently on the market.
The menu can be opened by clicking on the top left.
The control panel, in my opinion, is uncluttered. If you want to see all the options, I recommend reading the entire review of the DS416 (which I linked previously). There is too much to mention.
The advantage of DSM is that many apps have been made available. See here for a complete list of apps available on the DS420+.
In addition, there are of course also 3rd parties that offer software. Still, I want to give a quick look at what is available ‘by default’.
For the downloaders of ‘Linux ISOs’ there is also Download Station :D. This app allows downloading by BitTorrent or NZB. It can also be configured in such a way that when an NZB or Torrent is placed in a particular folder, it is immediately downloaded and processed on the NAS.
Before anything can be installed, a storage pool must first be created. This is also just easy to set up.
In a dual bay NAS like the DS420+, it is recommended to use a RAID5 setup in my opinion. RAID0 is fun/fast until something goes wrong. Then you will lose all your data. And that is the last thing you want with a storage device. However… also with a NAS, I want to emphasize that it is still important to make backups of the important files. A NAS can fail (SPOF). In this case, I use SHR, where SHR2 is also possible. SHR is another name for RAID1. It uses 1 drive as fault tolerance.
Currently, the WD Reds are in the DS420+. It is time to format.
I always use Btrfs.
The DS420+ will now check the disks for a few days (yes, really) and build up the volume nicely.
Once done and the volume can be used at full speed.
Because the Synology DS420+ also has two NVMe slots, SSD Caching can be set in DSM.
SSD caching works as follows. DSM looks at which files are frequently accessed and loads them onto the SSDs. When those files are then accessed again by a client, they are quickly available, which improves download speeds.
And then we immediately come to a downside of the NAS. The DS420+ has enough power to be able to drag data ‘faster’. The NVMe SSDs that can be used as caching in combination with 4-bays (which combined also provide a higher throughput) should be used by 1 or two 1GbE network ports. QNAP is putting 2.5GbE connections in their systems (NAS) these days. The DS420+ is strong enough. Still, during the tests – with or without SSD Caching – I get an average of 113 MB/s. And that’s just a shame. If a 2.5GbE port had been added, this would have been a lot more interesting for the consumer. Especially in the case of data transfer. I mean, a 1GbE or 2.5GbE transfer is noticeable.
Once things are installed and set, it’s time to set something up. I’ve been wanting to play with pi-hole for a while – to cut down on the commercials (unfortunately, YouTube is still a thing). Of course not on Tweakers <3.
Just like the DS220+, the DS420+ has Docker and Virtualization Station. By setting up environments via containers and ISO installations, these can easily be run and managed on the DS420+.
Using Docker it is easy to search for images. Installing and managing via DSM is a lot easier than the other NASs – such as those from QNAP. It’s just a little more difficult there.
The container is loaded in no time. DNS from the router/internal systems in your network towards the pi-hole and then it’s time to fine-tune it (if anyone has good lists for pi-hole, I’d love to hear about it! :)).
You can also download the necessary software for Windows and Mac via the website of Synology.
Synology has a good number of apps available in the iTunes and Android store that allow you to watch movies, listen to music, and manage files. There is also a cloud app available, and several others…
In the iTunes store, there are 15 apps from Synology that help the D420+, for example, stream music or movies, and manage or stream music/movies.
Synology has brought an excellent NAS to the market with the DS420+. With the 4-bays there is certainly enough space to build up reasonable data storage. The file share/data storage does what it does and still has just enough power to run just that little bit extra. The 4-bay NAS is easy to set up and manage. And that is exactly the purpose of such a 4-bay NAS. Not too much fuss.
Despite being the plus series, I wouldn’t advise you to use 4k transcoding on Plex. The beast is not going to pull this.
If you are a Tweaker who prefers to build a NAS yourself, then in general do not think that you would differ greatly in terms of costs. Of course, separate hardware is cheaper (you can also purchase it via pricewatch), but the time and energy that is put into DSM, well … that also costs something. In the end, it’s also about convenience. Do you want to continuously update and figure out things yourself, or do you believe the manufacturer on good/working updates – which are also regularly rolled out….
With DSM, Synology also provides a standard OS on which a lot of apps can run. And that is the strength of DSM. Of course, you pay for it, but you do get something in return, namely a system that continuously gets new updates and features.
The entire laundry list of apps can be found here.
The DS420+ has quite a few options (outside the OS). For example, memory can be expanded, and 2 NVMe SSDs can be used as well as 4 HDDs/SSDs. That is generally the volume for a fine NAS. Still, in my opinion, Synology has missed the point by placing 2x 1GbE network connections on the NAS.
Whereas today it does start to become more normal to look at 2.5GbE or even 10GbE network connections, this feels almost prehistoric. SSD Caching is ‘nice’ on a 1GbE line (which, incidentally, achieves the same speed without SSD Caching), but of course completely super great on a 2.5/10GbE connection.
The idea behind the SSD caching is that of course a lot of files are ‘loaded’ so that they can be accessed quickly. But if you just want to transfer data, just from the system to NAS. Or even from NAS to system. Well, in my opinion, it doesn’t matter that you use SSD Caching. The speed of data transfer is still limited by the maximum that your network, and the DS420+, can ‘have’. Yes, you will indeed be able to access the data a ‘little’ faster. But you are still limited to the maximum speed of the port.
You don’t buy a NAS like the DS420+ for one year. Given the switches/routers and network connections on motherboards that are already starting to change to ‘newer’ generations (2.5GbE/10GbE), this is a downside.
Don’t get me wrong, the rest of the DS420+ positively surprised me. Synology has put a faster CPU (newer generation) in the NAS, and it shows. The ability to add additional memory also provides additional options.
It’s just a shame that at the time of writing, DSM 7.0 is not yet out. I would have loved to click through that, and take you as a reader into it. Perhaps with the next Synology review.
The Synology DS420+ gets 4 out of 5 stars from me. The lack of faster network ports is for me a real downside that is significant in this whole. That would have made it an epic NAS in my opinion.