Compared to some of the full-sized 4-bay systems such as the DS414 and the DS414j which the DS414slim is directly related to, the price point is slightly more manageable at around £240 in the UK and $310 in the US. When we factor in a set of four WD Red 1TB drives as used in this review, which themselves cost around £220 / $300, a total setup price of around £560 / $600 is to be expected. Based on the performance and features and not the size, it would be nicer to see the slim priced closer to the £200 / $275 mark, giving a setup price which is more suitable for a system of this size and nature, with a RAW capacity of no more than 4TB.
As the NAS market grows and users start looking for ways in which they can integrate these relatively bulky systems in to the home, it is a little surprising to see that there are hardly any dedicated 2.5″ systems to choose from. Bar QNAP’s SS-439Pro and SS-839Pro, both of which are targeted at the SMB market, SOHO users really are left with no choice but to turn to a 3.5″ system for their storage needs.
Feature wise the DS414slim is rather to the point with little more than a couple of USB3.0 ports on offer alongside the dual Gigabit Ethernet ports, and whilst some may argue that it would be nice to see a USB2.0 port or two getting shoehorned into the chassis for a printer – for example, the two ports that we do get should be more than enough for most users needs. We must not forget either that behind the scenes, the DiskStation Manager firmware still gives all the same features that we would see on any other Synology system, so even though it is small, it is still able to cater for many scenarios.
The performance is also similarly impressive. Throughout my testing, the slim with a set of 2.5″ Reds and a single core SoC was able to outperform the DS414j which we tested with enterprise class drives and a dual-core SoC – not bad going for such a tiny unit. I will point out however that these tests are run with the system running its default services and if you are likely to install a few add-on packages to the DSM, you may start to note a slight drop in performance, although this shouldn’t be too obvious in the home.
As for the design, the slim is rather simple and to the point, where some Synology units use gloss and matte panels, we get a monotone exterior set-off by the glossy stand, which in itself is a welcomed break to the norm. Positioning the power button and a couple of LEDs to the side of the system in a cut out also helps to break up the cube like appearance and by the time you sit this unit up on a shelf or on top of your desktop system, it easily blends in and looks the part. I can’t quite get however why Synology have felt the need to include a set of numbered stickers for the drive bays; no other system that I’ve review has these included and the bays are numbered on the rear of the system. They just seem to be a bit pointless if I was to be honest.
Overall though and all things considered, the DS414slim is a ‘cute’ looking unit if i was to say so. It’s like having a little puppy amongst the dogs, but even though it will never grow up, it will still make you happy with what you’ve got. Is this the start of a trend I may ask, will anyone else follow with their own take on the slim for the SOHO market? Will we see a smaller or larger system come to market in the future? These questions I can’t answer, but I can certainly say that I would like to hope so.
- Compact system with a small footprint
- Cool running
- Easy to get setup and running
- Less intrusive than a full-blown 4-bay system
- Better performance than DS414j
- 2.5″ drive capacities do limit the overall raw capacity compared to full-sized systems
- Price could be a little lower based on the feature set and target audience
- No multimedia connectivity options
“Synology’s DS414slim may not be the very first dedicated 2.5″ NAS to come to market, but the way in which it targets the SOHO user directly, giving good levels of performance and all the firmware features that we would see on one of it’s bigger brothers wrapped up in a tiny package is what really makes it shine. This may just be the kick-start that the SOHO market needs for more systems of this type.”
Thanks to Synology UK for providing us with this review sample.