Best Synology NAS Android Central 2021
The best Synology NAS enclosures are often the best overall NAS servers available today. A NAS lets you easily back up data from Windows, macOS, Android, and iOS devices, and you can build a robust media server for streaming audio and video to all devices on your home network. These are the best Synology NAS enclosures you can buy.
- Best overall: Synology 2 Bay NAS DiskStation DS220+
- Best budget option: Synology 2 bay NAS DiskStation DS220j
- Best for $100: Synology DiskStation DS120j
- Best for Plex: Synology 4 bay NAS DiskStation DS920+
- Best for enthusiasts: Synology NAS DiskStation DS1520+
- More for less: Synology DiskStation DS420j
- Best value: Synology DiskStation DS418
- Great for multimedia: Synology DiskStation DS218play
- Compact workhorse: Synology DiskStation DS620slim
- The ultimate NAS: Synology DiskStation DS2419+
1. Synology DiskStation DS220+: Best overall
If you're buying a NAS for the first time or looking to upgrade, the DiskStation DS220+ is the ideal choice. The NAS enclosure has two bays, and it can accommodate a total of 32TB worth of storage across the two drive bays. That should be more than enough storage for most users, and you get upgraded internal hardware in the form of an Intel Celeron J4025 chipset and 2GB of DDR4 RAM.
You also get two Gigabit Ethernet ports at the back, and thanks to Link Aggregation, you can combine the two ports to get a boost in data transfer rates across your home network. There are also two USB 3.0 ports and a single fan at the back. Because of the beefier hardware, the DS220+ can handle 4K video transcoding with aplomb.
Hardware is just one-half of what makes a Synology NAS great. The brand's DiskStation Manager software is the best in the industry, and you get a powerful suite of features that make the DS220+ standout. For example, you can easily use the NAS as a media server and stream audio and video from it to all devices on your home network and even access the NAS from anywhere in the world. The DS220+ also offers powerful tools to back up data across all computers and phones on your home network, and it has built-in tools to organize your photos into albums.
If you're interested in getting the DS220+ and turning it into a media server, know that the NAS works just fine with Plex. With 4K transcoding, you will be able to stream content to your TV or other devices without any issues. The second part of buying a storage server is picking up NAS hard drives; I would recommend picking up two 4TB Seagate IronWolf drives to slot into the NAS. If you need more storage, you can always opt for the 6TB model or get the 8TB version.
- Great for media streaming
- 4K video transcoding and Plex
- Up to 32TB of storage across two drive bays
- Powerful software features
- Two Gigabit Ethernet ports
- No eSATA port for expansion
- No M.2 SSD caching
2. Synology DiskStation DS220j: Best budget option
Need a NAS enclosure on a budget? Then, you'll like what the DiskStation DS220j has to offer. It is a 2-bay model, and you get the ability to slot 16TB drives in each bay, just like the DS220+. That means you can add up to 32TB of storage in the NAS. It has 512MB of RAM, a Realtek RTD1296 chipset, a Gigabit Ethernet port, and two USB 3.0 ports.
You get all the same great software features as the DS220+, including the ability to back up data from all devices on your network, stream audio, and video, and so much more. The DS220j works well as a Plex server, but it has issues transcoding 4K videos. So if you already have content that will play natively on devices across your home network, it works as a decent enough media server for streaming files over DLNA.
For hard drive recommendations, I would go with 4TB IronWolf drives. Two of those drives will set you back a couple of hundred dollars, but you are getting 8TB of storage, and that should be plenty if you're looking to build a media server. Of course, you could always pick up a single 8TB IronWolf to get things started and pick up one more down the road.
- Great value
- Excellent software features
- Runs quiet
- Gigabit Ethernet port
- Two bays with up to 32TB of storage
- Limited memory
- Not particularly great with 4K transcodes
3. Synology DiskStation DS120j: Best for $100
If you don't want to spend too much money but still get a taste of what a Synology NAS has to offer, the DS120j is the ideal option. Available for just $100, the NAS is the easiest way to get started with Synology's excellent DiskStation Manager (DSM) web-based operating system. Synology has fully-featured apps available for Android and iOS that let you stream locally stored audio, video, and photos to all devices on your home network.
The DS120j is a 1-bay model, meaning you can slot in a single hard drive. It can accommodate a drive up to 16TB in size, and my recommendation for this model would be a 2TB IronWolf drive, which will set you back another $80. You can also pick up a 4TB IronWolf for $105 if you want more storage, and in doing so, you'll have a decent entry-level NAS option with 4TB of storage for just over $200. That's pretty great value when you consider the hardware on offer here.
The DS120j is powered by a Marvell Armada 3700 chipset, and you get 512MB of DDR3L RAM onboard. You get a single Gigabit Ethernet port at the back, two USB 2.0 ports, and there's a 60mm fan to ensure the NAS stays cool under load. Overall, the DS120j is a steal at $100.
- Most affordable way to access DSM software
- Great value for your money
- Can accommodate up to 16TB of storage
- Gigabit Ethernet
- Runs quiet
- Single hard drive means no data protection
- Doesn't work with Plex
- Limited to USB 2.0 ports
4. Synology DiskStation DS920+: Best for Plex
The DiskStation DS920+ has everything you're looking for in a NAS for Plex. The internal hardware has been upgraded. The NAS enclosure is now powered by an Intel Celeron J4125 chip and 4GB of RAM and another DIMM slot for adding another 4GB memory module.
With four drive bays and each accommodating a 16TB drive, you can add up to 64TB of storage on the DS920+. I used the DS918+ for several years as my home server, and it fared incredibly well for streaming Plex on all my devices. The DS920+ builds on that with beefier hardware, so if you're looking to set up a home server for 4K transcoding and Plex, this is the one to get.
You also get two Gigabit Ethernet ports with Link Aggregation, two USB 3.0 ports, and an eSATA port that lets you hook up a DX517 expansion unit, giving you the ability to add five additional drives — and 80TB more storage — to the NAS.
As with all other Synology NAS boxes, you get a full slate of software features via DiskStation Manager. Considering the DS920+ is ideally suited as a media server, I would suggest picking up two 8TB IronWolf drives to start and add more as needed.
- Upgraded internals
- Ideal for 4K transcoding and Plex
- Powerful software
- Up to 64TB of storage
- M.2 slots for SSD caching
- Fewer DRAM slots than predecessor
- No 10GbE (10 Gigabit Ethernet) ports
5. Synology DiskStation DS1520+: Best for enthusiasts
The DiskStation DS1520+ is one of the best NAS enclosures money can buy today. It is powered by the beefy Celeron J4125 chipset, has 8GB of RAM out of the box as standard — double that of the DS920+ — and comes with four Gigabit Ethernet ports at the back.
The NAS has five drive bays that can slot in a total of 80TB of storage, and you can also add up to 10 additional bays via two eSATA ports. There are also three USB 3.0 ports, and the DS1520+ has all the connectivity options you're looking for in a NAS. You also get two M.2 slots, but like other NAS enclosures, you can only use it for SSD caching and not storage. The NAS is missing an HDMI port, but that isn't a major omission as you can always use DLNA or Plex to stream media to your TV.
In fact, the DS1520+ is an outstanding option if you want a high-end Plex media server. It handles 4K transcodes without any issues, and the power on offer means you should not have any issues streaming media to several devices at once. It also has many features aimed at businesses, including a virtual machine manager, a collaborative office suite, and much more. So if you're looking for a high-end enclosure, there's plenty to like in the DS1520+.
- Ideal as a high-end Plex server
- Plenty of business-focused features
- Four Gigabit Ethernet ports
- 8GB of RAM out of the box
- Extendable via two eSATA ports
- No HDMI port
- M.2 slots only for caching
6. Synology DiskStation DS420j: More for less
If you're in the market for a 4-bay NAS for $300, look no further than the DiskStation DS420j. The NAS looks different from other models in Synology's portfolio due to the plastic cover at the front, making it slightly harder to get to the drive bays. But the design does stand out, and you won't need to access the hard drives once you slot them in anyway, so it isn't too big a trade-off.
The DS420j is powered by the Realtek RTD1296 chip, and you get 1GB of RAM. There's no way to add more memory, but again, for most multimedia tasks, the DS420j is plenty great. It runs Plex and lets you back up the data on all devices across your home network, and you get a great set of features with DiskStation Manager, including apps for audio and video streaming from your NAS.
You can add up to 16TB drives in each bay, which means you get a total of 64TB across the four drive bays. There's a single Gigabit Ethernet port at the back and two USB 3.0 ports, and in general, the DS420j is just a reliable 4-bay NAS if you're looking to build a multimedia home server. Start with a few 6TB IronWolf drives and add more as needed.
- Holds up to 64TB of storage
- Gigabit Ethernet
- Runs quiet
- Excellent software features
- Great value
- 1GB of memory
- No M.2 slot for SSD caching
7. Synology DiskStation DS418: Best value
The DiskStation has been around for a while now, and it continues to be one of the best options if you're looking for a 4-bay NAS enclosure for under $400. You can slot in up to 64TB of storage over four drive bays, the NAS is powered by a Realtek RTD1296, and it comes with 2GB of RAM, two Gigabit Ethernet ports, two USB 3.0 ports, and dual fans at the back.
The DS418 isn't particularly great at 4K video transcoding, but if all you're looking for is a media server to stream content to all the devices on your home network over DLNA, it is a great option. You get DiskStation Manager and all the features it has to offer, including an audio and video media server, the ability to back up all the devices on your network, robust note-taking and mail clients, and so much more.
The ideal hard drive for the DS418 would be the 8TB IronWolf. Just get these as needed, and you'll have a NAS enclosure that will serve you well for several years.
- Accommodates up to 64TB of storage
- Reliable performance
- Great value
- Dual Gigabit Ethernet
- Robust software
- Not great for 4K video transcoding
- Misses out on Btrfs file system
8. Synology DiskStation DS218play: Great for multimedia
The DS218play is a value-focused model that is aimed at those looking to build a multimedia server. The 2-bay NAS is a great way to kick things off, and you get decent hardware in the form of a Realtek RTD1296 chip, 1GB of RAM, one Gigabit Ethernet port, and two USB 3.0 ports.
With two drive bays that can accommodate 32TB of storage in total, the DS218play is a decent option if you just want a reliable media server for playing locally stored files on all devices on your home network. Like all Synology models, the NAS comes with DiskStation Manager, giving you access to a host of useful software features, including dedicated audio and video streaming clients, fast reading and writing performance, and robust security. In short, you're getting a lot of value for your money.
The best recommendation for a hard drive would be the 4TB or 8TB IronWolf drives. However, considering there are just two drive bays here, you're better off picking up a single 8TB drive and adding another one later.
- Decent value
- Reliable media server with 4K streaming
- Gigabit Ethernet ports
- Useful software features
- Up to 32TB of total storage
- No dedicated HDMI port
- Not extensible
9. Synology DiskStation DS620slim: Compact workhorse
The DiskStation DS620slim is different from every other NAS enclosure on this list, and that's because it cannot accommodate 3.5-inch hard drives. You will have to use 2.5-inch hard drives or SSDs with the NAS, making it an interesting option.
In terms of the hardware, you are getting a lot of power here: the DS620slim features an Intel Celeron J3355 chip, 2GB of RAM that can be extended to 6GB, two Gigabit Ethernet ports with Link Aggregation, and two USB 3.0 ports. In addition, there are six drive bays in total, and you can slot in a 7.68TB drive in each, with total storage going up to 46TB.
If you need a compact NAS enclosure that's about half the size of a regular 6-bay enclosure like the DS1618+, the DS620slim is the ideal choice. There's also the fact that the NAS is considerably more affordable than a regular 6-bay model. If you're looking for drives to pair with the NAS, go with the 1TB WD Red or Seagate's 4TB BarraCuda drives.
- Slim form factor
- Robust performance
- Outstanding value
- Same great software features
- Dual Gigabit Ethernet ports
- Limited to 2.5-inch drives
10. Synology DiskStation DS2419+: The ultimate NAS
Everything about the DiskStation DS2419+ is massive. You get 12 drive bays that can hold a 16TB drive, totaling a gargantuan 192TB of storage. There's also the fact that you can add a 12-bay expansion unit like the DX1215 and double the storage to 384TB.
Clearly, this NAS is designed for networking enthusiasts and small businesses. The DS2419+ is powered by a 64-bit quad-core Intel Atom C3538 that comes with 4GB of RAM out of the box, but you can upgrade to 32GB of RAM via the two DIMM slots. As a result, you get outstanding sequential reads and writes, and there's SSD caching and the option to add a 10GbE (10 Gigabit Ethernet) network card.
The DS2419+ is overkill for streaming media, but it does come with all the features that DiskStation Manager offers. You get a robust set of business-focused features and tools to back up all devices across a network automatically, and it runs virtual machines and Docker with ease. If you are interested in getting the DS2419+, you should look at the likes of the 16TB IronWolf Pro or the 14TB WD Gold to slot into the NAS enclosure.
- Up to 192TB of total storage
- Outstanding performance
- Excellent software features
- Four Gigabit Ethernet ports
What's the best Synology NAS you can buy in 2021?
If you're looking to invest in the best NAS for home for the first time or want to make the switch to a more powerful model, Synology has plenty of great options across all price points. The DiskStation DS220+ is the ideal option right now. It has powerful hardware, the latest software features, and two drive bays to accommodate 32TB of storage. You have more than enough headroom here if you're interested in building a media server.
If you're interested in a more budget-focused model, the DiskStation DS220j is a standout option. It is the ideal starting point, and you're not really missing out on any key features if all you're looking for is storing media and backing up data.
Credits — The team that worked on this guide
Harish Jonnalagadda is the Regional Editor of Android Central. A reformed hardware modder, he now spends his time writing about India's burgeoning phone market. Previously, he used to ponder the meaning of life at IBM. Contact him on Twitter at @chunkynerd.
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