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Best Synology NAS 2022: For home and Plex

These are my favourite Synology NAS enclosures.

Synology makes numerous models of network-attached storage (NAS) enclosures, but which one would be best for you? I’ve rounded up my favourite models from the company, including an affordable enclosure and one that’s well kitted out for running Plex Media Server.

  1. Best overall: Synology DiskStation DS220+Intel CPU, 2 bays, 2GB RAM, 1Gb LAN.
  2. Best entry-level: Synology DiskStation DS120jARM CPU, 1 bays, 512MB RAM, 1Gb LAN.
  3. Best for Plex: Synology DiskStation DS920+Intel CPU, 4 bays, 4GB RAM, 1Gb LAN.
  4. Best capacity: Synology DiskStation DS3622xs+Intel CPU, 12 bays, 16GB RAM, 10Gb LAN.
  5. Best budget: Synology DiskStation DS220jARM CPU, 2 bays, 512MB RAM, 1Gb LAN.
  6. Best 4-bay: Synology DiskStation DS420+Intel CPU, 4 bays, 2GB RAM, 1Gb LAN.

What is the best Synology NAS?

There’s no single best NAS for everyone since no two enclosures are built the same and they’re designed for various use cases. This also goes for Synology’s catalogue of NAS models. If I was to pick one, however, my best overall recommendation would go to the Synology DiskStation DS220+.

It has everything you need in a mid-range NAS enclosure, including an Intel Celeron processor, two drive bays, upgradeable RAM, and two 1Gb LAN ports. Interestingly, no matter which NAS you choose from Synology, you’ll be able to enjoy the company’s excellent operating system, DSM.

If you’re just starting out with your very first NAS enclosure, I’d recommend either the Synology DiskStation DS120j or DS220j as Synology’s more affordable servers. They won’t win any awards for performance, but they’re excellent for storing files.

No matter which enclosure you pick, I’d recommend buying them from Amazon, if possible. You’ll often find the lowest prices among all retailers at Amazon and its Prime membership (currently $45 for three months if you use this link!) opens up the ability to enjoy Prime-only sales and next-day delivery.

1. Synology DiskStation DS220+: Best overall NAS

Synology DiskStation DS220+

My thoughts: This is a no-brainer. The DS220+ is not only my favourite Synology NAS, but also my all-time favourite enclosure period. It has everything you need for a solid mid-tier, great value server.

CPU: Intel Celeron J4025 | Drive bays: 2 | RAM: 2GB DDR4 (max 6GB) | Features: 2x 1Gb LAN, 2x USB 3.0, upgradable RAM

BrandModelRetailer
SynologyDiskStation DS220+See at Amazon
  • Intel Celeron J4025 CPU
  • 2GB upgradable DDR4 RAM
  • 2x drive bays (36TB max)
  • 2x 1Gb LAN (with aggregation)
  • Excellent OS
  • No M.2 SSD slots
  • No 2.5Gb LAN ports
  • Limited RAID support

The Synology DiskStation DS220+ has it all for a great price. The Intel Celeron J4025 processor is brilliant for running more intensive tasks and applications. Should you have multiple members of the household wanting to use the NAS simultaneously, the DS220+ won’t provide any issues.

Rocking just two drive bays, this NAS enclosure is designed for those who don’t want to store too much data off the bat. You can still install two drives with up to 36TB of total capacity, allowing for plenty of space for movies, photos, music, documents, and more.

The Synology DiskStation Manager is an excellent operating system and is what you’ll find on all branded enclosures. It truly shines on the DS220+. The two 1Gb LAN ports can be linked together for additional network bandwidth too.

If you want the best value NAS from Synology, look no further than the DS220+.

Synology DiskStation DS220+

Synology DiskStation DS220+

The Synology DiskStation DS220+ is the company’s mid-range enclosure and is perfect if you’re just starting out with your first NAS.


2. Synology DiskStation DS120j: Best entry-level NAS

Synology DS119j

My thoughts: One may overlook the DS120j as being too limiting with an ARM processor and RAM that cannot be upgraded. I’d give it serious consideration if you’re looking for your very first NAS, one for a student, or to store some files.

CPU: Marvell Armada 3700 88F3720 | Drive bays: 1 | RAM: 512MB DDR4 | Features: 1x 1Gb LAN, 2x USB 3.0

BrandModelRetailer
SynologyDiskStation DS120jSee at Amazon
  • 1x drive bays (18TB max)
  • 1x 1Gb LAN
  • Cheapest Synology NAS
  • Excellent OS
  • No M.2 SSD slots
  • No 2.5Gb LAN ports
  • Sluggish ARM CPU
  • No RAID support

On paper, the Synology DiskStation DS120j doesn’t have much going for it as a NAS enclosure, so why would I recommend anyone buy it? It’s the most affordable Synology server, making it an ideal choice for parents looking to treat their student or for anyone else wanting to try out NAS.

The Marvell Armada 3700 88F3720 isn’t a brilliant processor, but it’s more than enough to handle file storage and some other lighter apps — you could even run Plex Media Server and stream music. The 512MB RAM isn’t enough for more intensive tasks, but it won’t cause any issues for the aforementioned tasks.

Because there’s only one drive bay, you won’t be able to utilize RAID across multiple drives, nor will you be able to connect external enclosures from Synology to expand the capacity, so you’ll be limited to a maximum of 18TB. So long as you don’t have more than 18TB of data to store away, the DS120j is a good little server.

Synology DiskStation DS120j

Synology DiskStation DS120j

The Synology DiskStation DS120j is the most affordable NAS from the company, rocking just one drive bay and limited processing power and RAM. It won’t be able to do too much but is a great starting NAS.


3. Synology DiskStation DS920+: Best NAS for Plex

Synology DiskStation DS920+

My thoughts: We’re pushing things up a notch with the Synology DiskStation DS920+. This enclosure has a great processor, four drive bays, and some other notable features that make it ideal for Plex.

CPU: Intel Celeron J4125 | Drive bays: 4 | RAM: 4GB DDR4 (max 8GB) | Features: 2x 1Gb LAN, 2x USB 3.0, upgradable RAM

BrandModelRetailer
SynologyDiskStation DS920+See at Amazon
  • Intel Celeron J4125 CPU
  • 4GB upgradable DDR4 RAM
  • 4x drive bays (72TB max)
  • 2x 1Gb LAN (with aggregation)
  • Excellent OS
  • Pricey
  • No 2.5Gb LAN ports
  • Limited RAID support

If running Plex Media Server is all you care for, you’ll want to consider the Synology DiskStation DS920+. I rate this as the best NAS from Synology overall due to the Intel Celeron J4125 processor. It’s slightly faster than the one found inside the DS220+ and there are an additional two drive bays here.

These highlights alone make it ideal for media streaming. Totaling four drive bays, you can store up to 72TB of data on this unit. It’s got plenty of other cool features too, including an eSATA port as well as M.2 SSD slots for installing flash drives as caching to improve performance.

Then there’s the included support for expansion units to add a further 9 drive bays to the mix. This enclosure is future-proof and would make for a solid investment for those looking for a server to last them for years before needing to find a replacement.

All this results in the best Synology NAS enclosure for running Plex Media Server. Streaming (and transcoding) 4K movies? No problem. It truly is an awesome machine.

Synology DiskStation DS920+

Synology DiskStation DS920+

If you’re a fan of media and want to create your own streaming service through Ple Media Server, you’ll love this Synology enclosure.


4. Synology DiskStation DS3622xs+: Best capacity NAS

My thoughts: Synology DiskStation DS3622xs+ gets far more right than it does wrong. There are 12 drive bays that can be expanded, so too can the 16GB of DDR4 RAM. The dual 10Gb LAN ports are also impressive.

CPU: Intel Xeon D-1531 | Drive bays: 12 | RAM: 16GB DDR4 (max 48GB) | Features: 2x 10Gb LAN, 2x USB 3.0, upgradable RAM

BrandModelRetailer
SynologyDiskStation DS3622xs+See at Amazon
  • Intel Xeon D-1531 CPU
  • 16GB upgradable DDR4 RAM
  • 12x drive bays (216TB max)
  • 2x 10Gb LAN (with aggregation)
  • Excellent OS
  • No M.2 SSD slots
  • Expensive
  • High power draw

Synology went all out with the Synology DiskStation DS3622xs+. It has a very potent Intel Xeon D-1531 processor with six cores and a clock speed of 2.2GHz (with a turbo up to 2.7GHz). It may be an older CPU and not have an integrated GPU with Intel QuickSync, but you could still get by with Plex transcoding.

The 16GB of DDR4 RAM is an incredible amount of RAM, but you could more than double it up to a maximum of 48GB, which is more than enough for most NAS use. There aren’t any M.2 PCIe slots for installing SSD cache, but Synology did include two expansion slots and a PCI slot for expansion cards.

If you’re working with large files and need to store lots of data, the 12 drive bays will let you have a maximum capacity of up to 216TB and that’s without including any expansion units that can be connected to this NAS — bringing the total number of drive bays to a whopping 36 (that’s 648TB).

Streaming files will be no issue thanks to the dual 10Gb LAN ports on the rear of the Synology DiskStation DS3622xs+. Link these two together for massive network bandwidth between the server and your LAN.

Synology DiskStation DS3622xs+

Synology DiskStation DS3622xs+

This NAS nearly has it all. Powerful Intel Xeon server CPU, 16GB of preinstalled DDR4 RAM, 10Gb networking, and more drive bays than you’ll know what to do with.


5. Synology DiskStation DS220j: Best budget NAS

Synology DiskStation DS220j

My thoughts: Synology DiskStation DS220j may be part of the company’s value series of NAS servers, but it’s still worth considering if you don’t need to do anything too intense. Storing files and backups? This is the NAS for you.

CPU: Realtek RTD1296 | Drive bays: 2 | RAM: 512MB DDR4 | Features: 1x 1Gb LAN, 2x USB 3.0, upgradable RAM

BrandModelRetailer
SynologyDiskStation DS220jSee at Amazon
  • Affordable
  • 2x drive bays (32TB max)
  • 1x 1Gb LAN
  • Excellent OS
  • No M.2 SSD slots
  • No 2.5Gb LAN ports
  • 512MB DDR4 RAM
  • Limited RAID support
  • Sluggish ARM CPU

This is essentially a slightly larger version of the DS120j. If you’re just starting out with your very first NAS server or want something to simply store some files and/or backups on, give the Synology DiskStation DS220j a look.

It’s powered by a quad-core Realtek RTD1296 processor, which won’t win any awards for performance. What this CPU does allow for is a lower price, so too does the 512MB of RAM that you cannot upgrade yourself.

It’s not all bad news, however. The DS220j runs the same excellent DSM OS found on all other branded enclosures. It can also run Plex Media Server, though you’ll struggle to transcode even the most basic file if required.

Synology DiskStation DS220j

Don’t count the DS220j out simply because it has an ARM processor and non-upgradeable RAM. This is a budget enclosure that can handle its own with file storage and more.


6. Synology DiskStation DS420+: Best 4-bay NAS

Synology DiskStation DS420+

My thoughts: If you’re looking at the DS220+ as the perfect NAS but find the two drive bays a little too limiting for storage capacity, the DS420+ may be a better option. It has four drive bays and even SSD caching support.

CPU: Intel Celeron J4025 | Drive bays: 4 | RAM: 2GB DDR4 (max 6GB) | Features: 2x 1Gb LAN, 2x USB 3.0, upgradable RAM

BrandModelRetailer
SynologyDiskStation DS420+See at Amazon
  • Intel Celeron J4025 CPU
  • 2GB upgradable DDR4 RAM
  • 4x drive bays (72TB max)
  • 2x M.2 slots
  • 2x 1Gb LAN (with aggregation)
  • Excellent OS
  • No 2.5Gb LAN ports

The Synology DiskStation DS420+ is a brilliant NAS enclosure. For starters, we’ve got the same Intel Celeron J4025 processor that’s found in the DS220+. This CPU is more than happy to run more intensive tasks on the NAS, such as transcoding 4K movies through Plex.

The 2GB of DDR4 RAM can be expanded to 6GB should you require more system memory, but the initial amount should be more than enough to start with. Then there are the four drive bays, which can allow for up to 72TB.

The two M.2 slots are excellent for installing SSDs for acting as a cache. Transferring files and data won’t be an issue either, thanks to the dual 1Gb LAN ports on the rear that can be linked for additional bandwidth. Finally, there’s the same OS found on any Synology NAS.

Synology DiskStation DS420+

Synology DiskStation DS420+

Synology essentially took the DS220+, added an additional two drives bays, and threw in two M.2 slots for good measure. This is one amazing NAS enclosure.


What are the best Synology NAS drives?

So you’ve picked the Synology NAS enclosure that will meet all your requirements, but what drives will you need to store all your data? It’s not recommended to use just any desktop-class drives since they’re not really designed with continuous server use in mind.

Synology NAS usually comes with no hard drives (unless you’re purchasing a bundle) and as such, I’d recommend taking a look at my round-up of best NAS drives to pick out some excellent storage medium for keeping your data safe.

Seagate IronWolf

Seagate IronWolf

I’m a big fan of Seagate’s IronWolf series of NAS hard drives. If you’re serious about storage, the Pro range offers a few advanced extras.

Western Digital Red

Western Digital Red Plus

Western Digital makes some of the best drives on the market and its Red range for NAS enclosures is no exception. You’ll have a wide range of options to choose from.

By Richard Edmonds

I've been covering the tech industry for more than a decade and have tinkered with NAS for just as long. Follow my ramblings and more right here on NAS Master!

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