As mentioned at the start of the review, the fundamental area of interest for this system is its price point. Synology have targeted this unit as a rock bottom entry-level 2-bay system for users who are on a strict budget. Priced at a shade over £140 (inc VAT), the DS214Se is the cheapest 2-bay offering that Synology have in their product catalogue and overall one of the cheaper options available on the market as a whole – especially once the cost of a pair of drives is taken into account.
With the cost of living as a whole going up, especially here in the UK, saving money is the name of the game. Saving money by opting for a cheaper unit does, as expected, mean that there is not going to be such a rich feature and specification list. Comparing the DS214Se to the DS213j that I looked at a couple of months back (and which I will add costs nearly £30 more); there are three major specifications that are different. The first of these is the drop in memory down to 256MB and a reduction in processing power from a single core 1.2GHz ARM CPU to an 800MHz single core Marvell chip. The lower spec CPU also entails a change in the SATA specification meaning that whilst the newer unit can take SATA 6Gbps drives, they will only run at 3Gbps speeds. When we consider that the DS214Se only has a single Gigabit Ethernet port on the back, the drop in SATA speed is not that much of a sacrifice and this does mean that slightly lower spec drives can be used without much of a performance drop – thus reducing the overall cost even more.
Whilst the change to the lower specifications may only seem like minor alterations, and let’s be honest, they are – the impact that they have on the cost and the positioning of the unit within the market is far greater. As a result, the amount of performance that you get for the lower price is not that bad at all. From the large number of test results that I’ve obtained through NASPT, the DS214Se peaked at 92.6MB/s on the read side and 89.3MB/s on the write side, which when compared to the 108.2MB/s and 99MB/s read and write speeds of the DS213j is not bad at all.
So what are the con’s for anyone looking to get this as opposed to the DS213j? Realistically, apart from the slightly slower read and write speeds, the only other con is that RAID arrays take slightly longer to build. Considering the fact that you’re only likely to build and do the initial setup on a RAID1 array once, after which it will synchronise data on the fly, the little extra time that you would have to wait for the array to build is a minor sacrifice considering the tight budgets that some people have to work to.
When you take into account that some 2-bay systems can cost the best part of £400 alone before you take drives into account, having a simple two bay system that you can populate with 8TB of storage for the same price sounds like an absolute bargain. The potential is there so save yourself nearly £300. Granted you’re not going to have the same high level of performance or all the additional features that the top end systems have, but if you’re on a tight budget, then a saving of £300 is worth a whole lot more that it sounds.
- Well known manufacturer
- Intuitive GUI
- Good level of performance for the price
- Simple, no thrills specification
- RAID arrays will take slightly longer to build
“If you’re on a very tight budget and you just want a simple, no thrills NAS to purely store files and other media, then Synology have just the solution with their ‘back to basics’ DS214Se.”
Thanks to Synology for providing us with this review sample.