Synology DiskStation DS220+ vs. DS420+: Which should you buy?

Synology DiskStation DS220+
Synology DiskStation DS220+ (Image credit: Harish Jonnalagadda / Android Central)

Synology DiskStation DS220+

Synology DiskStation DS220+

The DiskStation DS220+ is the ideal choice if you're in the market for a new NAS enclosure in 2020. It works great as a Plex media server, the value is strong for the hardware on offer, and you'll get the best software in this category. If you're just starting out or upgrading from the DS218+ or an earlier model, the DS220+ is the obvious choice.

Synology DiskStation DS220+

Perfect home NAS

Powerful internal hardware
Versatile software features
Holds a total of 32TB of storage
No eSATA port for connecting expansion drives
No M.2 slots for SSD caching

Synology DiskStation DS420+

Synology DiskStation DS420+

The DiskStation DS420+ takes the same foundation as the DS220+ and adds two extra drive bays and M.2 slots for SSD caching. The NAS has the same internal hardware, same ports, and runs the same software. If you feel that a two-bay enclosure won't be adequate for your needs, the DS420+ is the better option.

Synology DiskStation DS420+

Four-Bay Goodness

Holds 64TB of storage with four drive bays
M.2 slots for SSD caching
Limited memory
No eSATA port
Not great at transcoding files
Better options at similar price point

Synology is the largest manufacturer of NAS enclosures, and its 2020 portfolio is particularly strong. The DS220+ comes with exciting hardware upgrades and builds on the success of the DS218+, while the DS420+ shares the same foundation but offers more drive bays and a few standout features. If you are in the market for a new NAS enclosure, here's what you need to know about the differences between the DS220+ and the DS420+.

DiskStation DS220+ vs. DiskStation DS420+: Nearly-identical with a few key differences

The DiskStation DS220+ has the distinction of being one of the best NAS enclosures you can buy today. Whether you're looking to build a Plex media server on a NAS or need a reliable option for backing up data from all connected devices, the DS220+ is the ideal option for most users.

A lot of that has to do with the hardware on offer. The DS220+ is powered by a 2.0GHz dual-core Intel Celeron J4025 chipset, one of the most powerful chipsets you'll find in this segment. There's 2GB of RAM out of the box, and you can add another 4GB if you need it.

The DS420+ shares the same internals as the DS220+ but with two extra drive bays and M.2 slots.

You get two USB 3.0 ports for connecting external drives and transferring data over to the NAS. The NAS also has two Gigabit Ethernet ports on the DS220+, and with link aggregation, you get the ability to bridge the ports and increase the data transfer bandwidth.

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Header Cell - Column 0 Synology DiskStation 220+Synology DiskStation DS420+
Internal drive baysTwo (maximum 16TB each bay)3.5-inch HDD2.5-inch HDD2.5-inch SSD32TB of total storageFour (maximum 16TB each bay)3.5-inch HDD2.5-inch HDD2.5-inch SSD64TB of total storage
Network interface2 x Gigabit EthernetLink aggregationFailover2 x Gigabit EthernetLink aggregationFailover
USB ports2 x USB 3.02 x USB 3.0
CPUDual-core 2.0GHz Intel Celeron J402564-bitDual-core 2.0GHz Intel Celeron J402564-bit
4K Plex transcodeYesYes
RAM2GB DDR4Upgradeable to 6GB2GB DDR4Upgradeable to 6GB
SSD cachingYesTwo M.2 SSD slots
File systemBtrfs, EXT4Btrfs, EXT4
Cooling1-by-92 millimeter fan19.3dB(A)2-by-92 millimeter fan19.8dB(A)
Extendable with eSATA
Dimensions165-by-108-by-232.2 millimeters166-by-199-by-223 millimeters
Weight2.86 pounds (1.29 kilograms)4.80 pounds (2.18 kilograms)

Then there's the software. DiskStation Manager continues to be the best NAS software in the industry since it's both versatile and simple to use. You can easily back up all connected devices across your network, set up your own email or VPN server, and configure your own audio and video streaming services that you can use from anywhere in the world.

The DS420+ has the same features as the DS220+ — you get the same Celeron J4025 chipset, 2GB of RAM, and two Gigabit Ethernet ports — but it has four drive bays. With each drive bay able to accommodate a 16TB hard drive, that means the DS420+ can hold a total of 64TB of storage, versus 32TB on the DS220+. Neither NAS has an eSATA port, so you won't be able to add an expansion drive like the DX517 if you want more drive bays.

What makes the DS420+ truly stand out is the fact that it has M.2 slots for SSD caching, making it a more enticing option if you rely on a lot of read- or write-intensive tasks on the NAS. This particular feature isn't going to make a huge difference if you're buying NAS primarily for streaming video, but if you're interested in IOPS-intensive workloads like running large databases and virtualization, adding SSD caching will make a tangible difference.

Streaming locally-stored media is one of the best uses for a NAS enclosure, and both the DS220+ and DS420+ hold up well in this regard. Installing Plex is very straightforward, and the hardware on offer facilitates streaming several 1080p and 4K files at once. Both NAS enclosures can also transcode 4K, but there are limitations in doing so. You'll lose out on HDR content, but that has more to do with the way transcoding works rather than being a hardware limitation.

DiskStation DS220+ vs. DiskStation DS420+: It's an easy choice

Synology DiskStation DS220+

Source: Synology (Image credit: Source: Synology)

If you're looking to build a Plex media server, the DS220+ is the ideal choice. You are getting great value here, and the hardware on offer makes it one of the best NAS enclosures in this category right now. The DS220+ is fantastic for media streaming, and you get an extensive list of software features in DiskStation Manager. It holds up to 32TB of storage and the two Gigabit Ethernet ports are ideal for high-bandwidth tasks.

The DiskStation DS220+ is the obvious choice for the hardware and value on offer.

The DS420+ has plenty to offer as well, and you get the same internal hardware but with four drive bays and M.2 SSD caching. But Synology has another model in this segment that may suit your needs better. The $560 DiskStation DS920+ comes with 4GB of RAM and offers an eSATA port for connecting additional drive bays later on. Costing just $60 more than the DS420+, it may just be a better option if you want more RAM and extensibility.

Regardless of whether you're picking up the DS220+, DS420+, or the DS920+, you are getting a NAS enclosure that's great for Plex streaming in 4K, backing up your files across connected devices, and running Docker containers. These are some of the best NAS enclosures available right now and should serve you well for several years.

Be sure to pick the right hard drives for the NAS. I rely on Seagate's IronWolf NAS drives and recommend them highly. These drives are designed to run 24/7 and come with vibration resistance, ensuring they hold up just fine within a NAS enclosure. I have over 40TB of storage chugging along on five IronWolf drives, and I haven't had any issues yet.

Harish Jonnalagadda
Senior Editor - Asia

Harish Jonnalagadda is a Senior Editor overseeing Asia at Android Central. He leads the site's coverage of Chinese phone brands, contributing to reviews, features, and buying guides. He also writes about storage servers, audio products, and the semiconductor industry. Contact him on Twitter at @chunkynerd.