A couple of weeks ago Synology launched their DS415play, a 4-bay NAS which offered enhanced media functionality. It enhanced their product catalogue over the standard NAS devices they offer but that isn’t the only design tweak which allows Synology to cater for a wide range of consumers.
The DS414slim is a compact NAS from Synology which offers all of the benefits of their standard NAS range in a compact design which focuses on 2.5” drive compatibility.
Packaging and Bundle
The DS414slim arrives in a compact version of the brown cardboard box we have seen on other NAS models from Synology. A small sticker noting the model name can be found on top with another information sticker on the side. Inside we find the extras in their own box and the NAS, suspended to the side and wrapped in protective foam. Bundled with this NAS are two network cables, screws for 2.5” drives, quick start guide and a compact 30w PSU. Also present on this model is a small tray which sits on our desk, providing rubber feet to keep things steady and an air channel to allow airflow into the base of the unit… more on that later.
The Synology DiskStation DS414slim
The DS414slim is shown above, beside a 2.5” drive for size comparison purposes. It is a 4-bay NAS and features a selection of status LEDs on the front, along with a USB 3.0 port. On the front, left edge we also find a further status LED and power button. Looking at the top of the unit we can see slots to promote airflow and the Synology logo is printed on each side.
The DS414play measures 120x105x142mm weighing 0.66kg. For comparison the likes of the DS414j measure 184x168x230mm (HxWxD) weighing 2.21kg.
Inside this NAS we have a Marvell Armada 370 CPU which runs at 1.2GHz CPU with enhanced floating point functionality (and hardware encryption engine). This is backed by 512mb of DDR3 and each bay accepts drives up to 1.5TB for a total storage capacity of 6TB.
On the base of the DS414slim we can see four feet which sit on the base plate and between them an air intake for the 60x60mm cooling fan (21.8dB). Moving round to the back of the NAS we find two GB LAN ports, power input, USB 3.0 port and lock slot. Also present are the four 2.5” drive bays.
Installation and Set-up
To install a drive in our NAS we pull out the caddy screw the storage in place with the bundled screws and slide it back in. It is that simple. From these bays we can run Synology Hybrid RAID to mix drive sizes or go with JBOD and traditional RAID 0, 1, 5, 6 and 10.
Once the drives are installed and the NAS powered on it is time to access DiskStation Manager web interface. To do this we can use the DiskStation Assistant software which finds and connects to the NAS and opens our browser too.
First up are some screens which give us info on the DiskStation as well as allowing us to point the NAS at the latest OS files. Next we create a password for the admin account and here we can also alter the server name, doing so will alter the name for the access URL as well. After this, installation of DSM begins.
Once installation and setup is complete we land on the login screen which features a weather and clock widget. On first login we can also set up a quick access account used for accessing the device remotely.
Once installation and setup is complete we land on the home screen. This is in effect the ‘desktop’ and has a familiar Windows like UI experience which features taskbar, icons/shortcuts and a main menu (start) button. All Synology NAS solutions operate using DSM from the single-bay home user device to the 100 bay + enterprise solutions.
On the desktop are the default icons which include File Station, Control Panel and Package Centre. Along the top taskbar we have a ‘start’ button on the left and over on the right, a search function, user account menu, display options as well as a notification system and (when appropriate) an icon informing us that there is a USB device currently connected. In the bottom right corner we have our quick access status indicators. Here we can see over health status of the system, the current CPU/memory usage as well as bandwidth use.
The start button, situated top left opens a menu with pretty much access to all the features of the DS414slim. This includes any additional apps installed via the Package Centre.
Looking next to the Control Panel, we have a large array of options available from user admin, firewalls, IP blocks, Traffic Control and a whole lot more. All aspects of the NAS and the way it functions are user configurable, though novice users will find that very few of the options need tweaking out of the box.
The Package Center, is Synology’s ‘App Store’ here we can find packages to download and install on our NAS to improve functionality, these are categorised into Backup, Multimedia, Business, Security and Utilities. We can also see which apps we have installed and make sure we are running the most up-to-date packages. This allows full control of just what is available on the NAS without bloating the initial install.
One of the key apps is File Station, this is a file browser and allows us to trawl our NAS at a directory level. It also allows the user to access the files on another device to easily upload them to the NAS. As well as the usual file control abilities rename, delete, cut/copy/paste we can compress files into .zip archives directly on the NAS and create share file links that allow users who don’t have credentials for the DiskStation to download the file.
Elsewhere Audio Station allows management of the music library stored on the DiskStation and like VideoStation and PhotoStation allows us to view our content on other devices such as TVs, phones and tablets (or give external access to items such as our photos to family members).
Synology also have a full suite of mobile apps available for iOS, Android and Windows Phone too. These include media players for streaming audio and video content as well as mobile versions of File Station and DSFinder.
The DS414slim is a rather interesting device. It certainly stands out in the Synology product range and from other NAS products as a whole. Synology have done well with the styling, it’s a nice looking NAS and it is pretty much as compact as is possible. It might be better for the base plate to be screwed in place rather than just act as a tray but other than that we have no design issues, especially when we consider the easy access to drives and the fact we have a front based USB 3.0 port along with rear, dual LAN connections.
In terms of performance Synology rate the DS414slim for over 100MB/s read with write operations in around the 60MB/s mark. We actually saw the unit peak at 120MB/s read and over 100MB/s write when an SSD was installed. That’s very similar to the standard size NAS units. Power use was also decent, just 15w under load.
As always though the best aspect of any Synology product is the software used. DSM is a phenomenal operating system and the best available on any NAS. It is responsive, intuitive and highly configurable. On the DS414slim it continues to run well and allows us to benefit from the great features available despite the compact dimensions.
The DS414slim is an ideal device for those who don’t need the massive capacity available on a full size NAS. The port layout is ideal and features great (inc. Printer sharing, Apple support, DNLA, etc). With low power use and a 2-year warranty, very much recommended.
Pricing: Ebuyer.com – £263.50