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Synology DiskStation DS414 4-bay NAS Review

Synology DiskStation DS414 4-bay NAS Review

Chris spends some time checking out Synology's new DiskStation DS414 4-bay NAS. If you're on the market for a SOHO NAS, this one may be worth considering.

@ChrisRamseyer
Published Wed, Jun 4 2014 12:03 AM CDT   |   Updated Tue, Apr 7 2020 12:32 PM CDT
Rating: 92%Manufacturer: Synology

Introduction & Hardware Specifications and Pricing

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VIEW GALLERY - 41 IMAGES

In March, Synology released a new operating system for the company's NAS products, DSM 5.0. The operating system included several new features. Many of the features trickled down from enterprise class products, making even Synology's lowest priced products capable of enterprise features.

DSM 5.0 ushers in a new GUI interface that makes the system easier to manage. Synology calls it simple and straightforward, and we found the claim to be true. The system is easier to setup than Windows, and management, even for complex tasks, takes less time than previous versions.

The new Synology DS414 NAS sits in the middle of the home user and entry-level small business user markets. Over the last year, we've seen several 4-bay models with enhanced features like HDMI output for A/V functions, but many businesses and even home users still want a cost effective unit without the added features and increased cost.

The DS414 is that product: a NAS for data storage and data connectivity without the added expense of hardware functions that wouldn't be utilized. I wouldn't call the DS414 a stripped down model though. It has so many software bells and whistles--more than what anyone could use at the same time--that we have to call it a loaded system.

Hardware Specifications and Pricing

Modern NAS servers have moved beyond data storage through a wire network. In order to get the most out of a NAS, you need to look at the extra I/O hardware and the mountain of potential software features.

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The Synology DS414 uses a Marvell Armada XP dual-core processor running at 1.33GHz. Feeding the processor is a 1 GB of DDR3 DRAM. Four 3.5-inch drive bays with toolless drive sleds support up to 20 TB (5TB HDD x 4) formatted with an EXT4 file system.

Connecting the system back to the network are two gigabit Ethernet LAN ports that support link aggregation for more than 200 MB/s file transfer performance or failover. Additional connectivity comes from two USB 3.0 ports on the back of the system and a single USB 2.0 port on the front of the NAS. That's the limit of hardware connectivity on this model, but on the next page, we'll walk through the software options that include cloud based options.

The DS414 ships with an external power brick, software disk, screws for mounting drives, a paper manual, and two Ethernet cables. Synology backs the system with a two-year warranty. We found the Synology DS414 for $475.99 through Google Shopping at the time of writing.

PRICING: You can find the Synology DS414 for sale below. The prices listed are valid at the time of writing but can change at any time. Click the link to see the very latest pricing for the best deal.

United States: The Synology DS414 retails for $479.49 at Amazon.

Canada: The Synology DS414 retails for CDN$561.19 at Amazon Canada.

Software Features

NAS products are equal parts hardware performance and software features. One complements the other in a balanced product. You need more hardware performance to run more software features at the same time.

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The Synology DS414 is a fully featured NAS with new software features supplied from the new DSM 5.0 operating system. The unit supports JBOD, RAID 0, 1, 5, 6, and 10 on the 4 drive bays. Synology's Hybrid RAID support is also included for an easy-to-configure redundant storage system. The system supports up to 256 volumes, 10 iSCSI targets, and 10 iSCSI LUNs.

The NAS supports over two thousand user accounts in up to 256 groups with 256 shared folders. The system also accepts up to 256 concurrent connections.

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The DSM 5.0 software includes a host of Synology software packages, and in the list above, we see a massive list of third-party add-on software packages that give the system extreme flexibility.

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One of the most popular features for home users is media playback via DLNA and streaming.

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The operating system is a window-based system, so the interface is easy to navigate.

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Moving from one area to the next is easy. Every option has a description, and the help system is informative.

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A set of quick navigation tabs allows users to jump from one task to another.

Packaging and Accessories

Packaging

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The system ships double boxed with dense foam around the server for maximum protection.

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Included in the retail package is a quick installation guide to get started, a software disk with a full manual, and a set of screws for mounting 2.5-inch drives to the NAS (3.5-inch drives are toolless).

Accessories

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Also included is an external power source, a power cable, and two Ethernet cables.

Synology DS-414

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The DS414 has a piano black front cover that gives the system an attractive look for your home office. The cover ships with a plastic protector for the glass smooth finish. This finish can scratch and shows fingerprints.

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With the cover off, we see the four drive bays with the sleds installed. The button at the top allows the drives to slide out, even with the system turned on. The DS414 is hot swappable.

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A power button at the bottom of the system turns the system on and off. A USB 2.0 port on the front of the NAS allows users to backup data from flash drives quickly.

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Status LEDs on the top right edge show the current system state and disk activity for the individual drives.

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The Synology logo is on each side of the NAS.

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Two large cooling fans on the back of the DS414 keep the NAS electronics and the hard drives cool. This might look intimidating and lead some to believe the NAS is loud, but that is not the case. The larger the fans, the less RPMs they need to run in order to move the same amount of air as smaller fans at higher RPMs.

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The rear connectivity comes in the form of two Ethernet ports and two USB 3.0 ports. Synology also included a Kensington lock point, and just below the Ethernet ports is the connector for the power brick.

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On the bottom of the unit, we see additional cooling ports for the electronics and HDDs. Synology used four soft rubber feet on the DS414 to reduce vibration transfer to your desk or other object you place the system on.

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The drive sleds are toolless when using 3.5-inch drives. Synology included screws for mounting 2.5-inch HDDs or SSDs. Rubber grommets on the drive sled also reduce disk vibration to the NAS. This also aids in keeping the system very quiet.

Test System Setup

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Our NAS test 'system' has migrated to three 42U racks like what you'd find in a datacenter. There are ten servers that attack the target NAS with 120 Hyper-V installations of Windows 7 64-bit, each with a dedicated gigabit Ethernet port. The systems feed to three Extreme Networks X450e-48p switches and then to a Supermicro SSE-X3348TR top-of-rack switch. The device under test connects to the Supermicro switch via 1GbE, 10GbE, or 40GbE. The iSCSI and NASPT tests use a single machine connected to the Supermicro switch.

This level of testing wouldn't be possible without the help and support from several companies, many of which have little to do with NAS products. We would like to thank AVADirect, Antec, Corsair, GIGABYTE, Icy Dock, Kingston, LSI, Noctua, Rosewill, Seagate, Thermaltake, and Western Digital for their much-appreciated support.

Intel NASPT

The Intel NAS Performance Toolkit (NASPT) is a file system exerciser and analysis tool designed to enable direct measurement of home network attached storage (NAS) performance. Designed to emulate the behavior of an actual application, NASPT uses a set of real-world workload traces gathered from typical digital home applications. Traces of high definition video playback and recording, office productivity applications, video rendering/content creation, and more provide a broad range of different application behaviors.

TweakTown Custom 120-Client Office Test

The TweakTown Custom 120-client Office Test uses 120 Windows 7 Hyper-V installations and custom software to stress each NAS with traces from Microsoft Office tasks. Both throughput (in Mbits per second) and latency (in milliseconds) are measured.

Seagate NAS HDD

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TweakTown uses Seagate NAS hard drives for all of our NAS tests. You can read our full review of the Seagate NAS HDD here.

Supermicro SSE-X3348TR 10GbE / 40GbE Switch

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With a switching fabric of 1,284 Gb/s through forty-eight 10GbE ports with RJ45 connectors and four 40GbE QSFP connectors, the SSE-X3348TR is our switch of choice for testing SMB and enterprise network attached storage products. Many server and motherboard manufacturers have included 10GbE on top-tier offerings. 2015 will be the year for a 10GbE take over.

Benchmarks – RAID 5 Single Client Performance

Benchmarks – RAID 5

RAID 5: Block-level striping with parity data distributed across all member disks.

HD Video Playback

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HD Video Play - 720p HD stream from Windows Media Player 256kB reads

2HD Video Play - 2x playback

4HD Video Play - 4x playback

HD Video Record

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HD Video Record - 720p HD stream, 256kB writes

HD Video Play & Record - 1 playback, 1 record simultaneously

2x HD Video Play & 2x Record - 2 playback, 2 record simultaneously

Content Creation

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Photo Album - All reads – wide distribution of sizes

Office Productivity – Reads and writes, 1kB & 4kB reads; Mostly 1kB writes

Content Creation - 95% writes; 1k, 4k & little reads; Writes up to 64kB

File / Directory Transfer

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Directory Copy From NAS - 64kB reads

Directory Copy To NAS - Predominantly 64kB writes, wide scattering under 16kB

File Copy From NAS - 4GB file copy, 64kB reads

File Copy To NAS - 64kB writes

Single Client Performance Summary

The DS414 caught us off guard with the single client performance. This is the first time we've tested a Marvell based system at the same performance as units using Intel's Atom processors. The Armada XP processor is up to the task and delivers the level of performance users are looking for in a low cost, easy to configure solution.

Benchmarks – iSCSI Enterprise Workloads

Database

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File Server

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Email Server

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Web Server

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Workstation

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iSCSI Enterprise Workload Summary

The iSCSI performance shows us that the DS414 isn't just tuned to deliver very good NASPT performance. This system is the real deal with solid performance across a wide range of workloads.

Benchmarks – iSCSI Workload Latency

Database

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File Server

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Email Server

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Web Server

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Workstation

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iSCSI Enterprise Latency Summary

The latency is also very low in the different workload tests. In many of the tests, the DS414 outperformed the Seagate Business Storage NAS with eight HDDs and more system DRAM. The DS414 is also the lowest priced model in our charts today.

Benchmarks – Multi-Client Test

The Intel NAS Performance Tool (NASPT) is an excellent way to determine NAS performance in a single user environment. Any review that only uses NASPT assumes that only a single computer will access the target NAS at one time. We took issue with this method of testing and spent over a year designing, building, programming, and finally validating the TweakTown Multi-Client Test.

The test uses Microsoft Office data recorded to traces and played back to the NAS from up to 120 client Windows 7 installations (clients). We record total throughput of all clients and average response time per client.

Over time, we'll populate the two multi-client charts with several NAS products from a span of categories. The products range from a dual-Xeon server with two 10GbE ports to a 2-bay NAS with a single gigabit Ethernet connection. The products will fall into their performance categories based on performance and not marketing material or opinion.

Throughput

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In our multiclient test with scaling concurrent users, the Synology DS414 peaked at 16 clients before the throughput started to decrease due to increased latency.

Latency

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The latency test shows how latency increases with the workload from additional users. The DS414 scales well as the user load increases. There are not any massive spikes in latency.

Final Thoughts

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Over the last two years, we've watched Synology simplify the DiskStation Manager software while at the same time add new features at an impressive rate. In the same time, NAS products have migrated from data storage devices to full servers capable of running native databases, cloud connected storage, and a whole slew of tasks that most of us wouldn't even attempt to configure on a Windows desktop due to complexity. This is really the brilliance of the DS414 and other NAS products; the simple software makes using advanced software very easy and without the same fuss associated with configuring the functions inside Windows.

In the end, users want simplicity over complication. With 5TB and 6TB HDDs on the market, most users have access to ample storage space without a NAS, but that doesn't mean we should write off NAS products. The DS414 provides data reliability from the redundant array system, data security from the user management system, and cloud connectivity from a convenient to configure step-by-step interface. That's really just the baseline of where to start. From there, users can configure DLNA media sharing, data backups from multiple devices, and even off-site data backups. All of these tasks are simple to configure and, at the same time, service more than one client PC or Mac.

Performance wise, the new Marvell dual-core Armada XP processors caught us off guard. This is the first Marvell based 4-bay NAS that I would strongly recommend as other Marvell based NAS products I've tested fell flat in our performance tests. The DS414 is a very powerful system, and at less than $500, the system is priced well for the performance and functions offered.

Overall, the Synology DS414 is a very nice system for home or small office use. The performance provides a low latency user experience, and the features allow users to configure the system for multiple roles in the home or office. The price is within reason and competitive with similar units on the market, and the two-year warranty is sufficient.

If there is anything to complain about, it has to be the piano black finish on the front cover. The surface is very smooth and looks great at first. The cover is a fingerprint magnet, and a paper towel will leave micro scratches. You need soft cotton or a microfiber cloth to clean the surface as it's delicate.

PRICING: You can find the Synology DS414 for sale below. The prices listed are valid at the time of writing but can change at any time. Click the link to see the very latest pricing for the best deal.

United States: The Synology DS414 retails for $479.49 at Amazon.

Canada: The Synology DS414 retails for CDN$561.19 at Amazon Canada.

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Chris Ramseyer started his career as a LAN Party organizer in Midwest USA. After working with several computer companies he was asked to join the team at The Adrenaline Vault by fellow Midwest LAN Party legend Sean Aikins. After a series of shake ups at AVault, Chris eventually took over as Editor-in-Chief before leaving to start Real World Entertainment. Look for Chris to bring his unique methods of testing Hard Disk Drives, Solid State Drives as well as RAID controller and NAS boxes to TweakTown as he looks to provide an accurate test bed to make your purchasing decisions easier.

We openly invite the companies who provide us with review samples / who are mentioned or discussed to express their opinion. If any company representative wishes to respond, we will publish the response here. Please contact us if you wish to respond.

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