Synology DiskStation DS216+ Review

High-performance 2-bay NAS featuring a dual-core Intel CPU with AES NI hardware encryption engine and 4K UHD transcoding capabilities
High-performance 2-bay NAS featuring a dual-core Intel CPU with AES NI hardware encryption engine and 4K UHD transcoding capabilities

Review At A Glance
ProductSynology DiskStation DS216+ [product link]
SummaryHigh-performance 2-bay NAS for small office and home offices (SOHO). Equipped with AES NI hardware engine and 4K UHD hardware transcoding engine to make both encryption/decryption and video transcoding snappier.
Pros+ Hardware encryption engine for faster encryption and decryption
+ Hardware Transcoding Engine is capable of transcoding H.264 4K (4096 x 2160) to 1080p (1920 x 1080) on the fly at 30 frames-per-second
+ Hot-swappable disk drives
Cons- Drive trays are not secured with lock-and-key
- Does not support (internal) volume expansion via DX513/ DX213
SRPS$499.00 (at time of post)

 

The Synology DiskStation DS216+ is an Intel-based high-performance 2-bay NAS, aimed at small office and home offices, designed to protect, store and securely share their data. It comes equipped with AES NI hardware encryption engine and 4K UHD hardware transcoding engine to make both encryption/decryption and video transcoding snappier. Like may Synology NAS devices, the DS216+ comes with tool-less and hot-swappable drive trays.

 

Synology DiskStation DS216+ Specifications
ProcessorIntel Celeron N3050 (Braswell)
Dual-core 1.6 GHz (burstable to 2.16 GHz)
Memory1GB DDR3
EncryptionAES-NI Hardware Encryption Engine
TranscodingHardware Transcoding Engine: H.264 (AVC), MPEG-2 and VC-1
Maximum resolution: 4K (4096 x 2160)
Maximum frame rate per second (FPS): 30
Storage2 x 3.5"/2.5" SATA II/III; Hot Swappable
SSD SupportTRIM support
RAID LevelsBasic
JBOD
RAID 0/1/Synology Hybrid RAID
Capacityup to 16TB (2 x 8TB)
Networking1 x 10/100/1000 Mbps
Connectors1 x USB 3.0
2 x USB 2.0
1 x eSATA
Fan1 x 92mm
Dimensions165 (H) x 108 (W) x 233.2 (D) mm
Weight1.25kg
Power ConsumptionSleep – 7.52W
Operation – 17.57W
Noise Level18.2 dB(A)

 

The Contents

The Synology DS216+ comes neatly packed in the iconic brown "carton" box
The Synology DS216+ comes neatly packed in the iconic brown “carton” box

The Synology DiskStation DS216+ came in a compact brown carton box with all the necessities packed neatly within.

The package comes with the DS216+, power adaptor, power cord, ethernet patch cord, a pack of screws and quick installation guide.
The package comes with the DS216+, power adaptor, power cord, ethernet patch cord, a pack of screws and quick installation guide.

Within the package, you will find the following:

  1. Synology DS216+ 2-bay NAS
  2. Power cord and power adaptor
  3. Ethernet patch cord
  4. A pack of screws for 2.5-inch hard disk installation
  5. Quick installation guide

 

The Synology DS216+

Status LEDs, USB 3.0 port, Copy button, Power button
Status LEDs, USB 3.0 port, Copy button, Power button

The enclosure of the DS216+, unlike the DS215+, is mainly plastic. Hence, its weight is lighter without compromising airflow or performance. The panel covering the drive bays is glossy while the rest of its body is matte.

On the right of the front panel are where the LED indicators, USB 3.0 port, copy button and power button are located. Pressing the copy button allows you to copy data from the attached USB device to the DiskStation using the USBCopy feature.

The front panel mechanism is similar to the one used back in DS412+
The front panel mechanism is similar to the one used back in DS412+

The front panel is secured to the main body using the four oversized rubber grommets-like studs. Removing the panel reveals the two drive bays with its order clearly marked using dots on top of the drive trays. The drive trays are not key-lockable (like the ones in DS215+).

The SATA backplane. As usual, the design maximises airflow through the NAS unit
The SATA backplane. As usual, the design maximises airflow through the NAS unit

The 92mm system fan is placed directly behind the hard drives to keep the NAS (and hard drives) cool.

Drive trays that don't require any tools to install 3.5" hard disks
Drive trays that don’t require any tools to install 3.5″ hard disks

As usual, Synology used tool-less drive tray for the DS216+. Basically, no tools are needed to install a standard 3.5-inch hard drive. Simply remove the rails at the sides, place the disk onto the tray and snap the rails back. For the smaller 2.5-inch drives, you will need to use the included pack of screws.

92mm fan, reset button, 2 USB 2.0 ports, Gigabit port, Kensington lock slot, eSATA port and power port.
92mm fan, reset button, 2 USB 2.0 ports, Gigabit port, Kensington lock slot, eSATA port and power port.

At the back of the DS216+, you will find the 92mm system fan, reset button, two (2) USB 2.0 ports, a Gigabit ethernet port, Kensington lock slot, eSATA port and power port.

 

Setting up the DS216+

The setup process is straightforward. Once the DS216+ is connected and powered up, launch a web browser and navigate to http://find.synology.com. The discovery and setup process will guide you through the initial setup.

Setting up the DS126+ using http://find.synology.com
Setting up the DS126+ using http://find.synology.com

The discovery process locates all Synology devices on your network. It found my existing DS1515+ and Synology Router RT1900ac.

Setting up the DS126+ using http://find.synology.com
Setting up the DS126+ using http://find.synology.com

The process guides you through the installation of the Synology DiskStation Manager (DSM). You can either use the stable releases or beta releases (by providing your own DSM installation file). The process takes around 15 minutes and the DS216+ reboots into DSM at the end of the process.

DS216+ is all setup and ready to go
DS216+ is all setup and ready to go

After a quick introductory tour on the DSM, you will be presented with the desktop/ home page. This is where you manage your DS216+.

DSM 6.0 beta Home
DSM 6.0 beta Home

 

A look at the new Video Station

The Synology Video Station is a power application for you to store and organise your movies, TV shows and other video contents in one place, and stream them to your computer, smart devices or TV. It also retrieves information about your videos from the Internet and update the video with information like descriptions, movie posters, episode synopsis, etc.

One great feature of the DS216+ is its ability to transcode 4K videos efficiently to a format that your devices can play. Not all devices are equipped to play 4K videos smoothly so the DS216+ is a great help in this area.

Downloaded several 4K videos from the Internet for testing
Downloaded several 4K videos from the Internet for testing

I managed to find a few 4K videos from the Internet to test the transcoding capabilities of the DS216+. These 4K videos stutters on my iMac 27-inch mid-2011 model when I tried playing them using VLC.

DS216+ transcoded the 4K video on the fly and it played smoothly on my iMac
DS216+ transcoded the 4K video on the fly and it played smoothly on my iMac

Imported the 4K videos into Video Station and played back using the web browser on both original and high quality. The video on high quality plays smooth as butter and made fireworks show at Taipei 101 enjoyable. The video stutters once I switched back to original quality as my computer could not decode the video stream fast enough. What really happened in the backend when I switched to high quality playback (instead of original quality) is that the DS216+ is transcoding the 4K video down to one that is more manageable by the computer.

The DS216+ transcoded the 4K video effortlessly
The DS216+ transcoded the 4K video effortlessly

While the video is still playing on high quality, I peeked at the DS216+ resource usage. The DS216+ is transcoding the 4K video to high quality effortlessly on the fly. It had offloaded the task to the hardware transcoding engine so that the DS216+ can continue to perform its other tasks (e.g. data snapshot, cloud backup).

Thinking that my trusty workhorse, the DS1515+, would excel in this area (of 4K video transcoding) too. I played the same file via the DSM 5.2’s Video Station. The playback stutters with the DS1515+’s CPU peaking out at 98%.

The DS216+ is equipped with the right tools (and hardware) to efficiently perform 4K transcoding. The DS216+ Hardware Transcoding Engine is capable of transcoding H.264 4K (4096 x 2160) to 1080p (1920 x 1080) on the fly at 30 frames-per-second.

 

A look at a new app – Spreadsheet

The SpeadSheet has an uncanny resemblance to the Google SpreadSheet. But nonetheless, it is designed for data collaboration and sharing in both home and business environments with the information securely saved in the NAS.

SpreadSheet is a new app in DSM 6.0
SpreadSheet is a new app in DSM 6.0

The SpreadSheet supports co-editing and viewing of live modifications by other users. It supports formulas and functions too.

You can share your spreadsheet with your friends or colleagues
You can share your spreadsheet with your friends or colleagues

You can also generate a public share link for your friends to view and/or edit the spreadsheet.

 

New feature with Btrfs file system – Snapshot

The DS216+ supports both EXT4 and Btrfs (pronounced as Butter FS) for its internal drives. One of the important features enabled by Btrfs is the ability to perform data snapshots every 5 minutes for granular backups and file versioning.

Protecting data with Snapshot
Protecting data with Snapshot

You can turn on scheduled snapshot for important folders and keep up to 256 copies/ versions per folder. This allows you to restore any accidentally deleted/ overwritten files from the snapshots using File Station or even Windows File Explorer.

Data replication to another Synology NAS
Data replication to another Synology NAS

For mission critical data (e.g. PhD thesis, projects), you may want to consider using the Replication feature to copy data to another Synology DiskStation on-site/ off-site. It supports four (4) replication approaches (active/ active, hub and spoke, extended replication, one-to-many) to facilitate your replication needs.

 

Dimmable LEDs

This might not be an important feature but finally the LEDs on the DS216+ are dimmable. It is a great feature for those who are disturbed/ distracted by the flashing LEDs. The four-level brightness control allows the LED to be switched from off to full brightness (off, 1/3, 2/3, full).

 

Summary

The DS216+ is the highest end of the DS216 series – DS216se, DS216play, DS216, and DS216+. The performance of the CPU, AES NI hardware engine and 4K UHD hardware transcoding engine will definitely make up for the price differences.

If you are looking for a reliable and high-performance 2-bay NAS, you might want to give the DS216+ a shot.

 

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