Synology DiskStation DS223j

Synology DiskStation DS223j review: Affordable NAS with the best OS

The Synology DiskStation DS223j is a successor to the popular budget-friendly DS220j NAS with two bays for 3.5-inch drives, an ARM processor, and access to Synology’s excellent DiskStation Manager (DSM) operating system. We’re going to take a closer look at the DS223j in this review to see if it’s worth your time and money.

Compared to the DS220j, Synology upgraded the processor inside the DS223j and added Btrfs support. The new chip is the Realtek RTD1619B, which has four physical cores and a maximum clock speed of 1.7 GHz. This chip upgrade should have a positive impact on the responsiveness of the NAS but still falls short of what’s possible with Intel’s Celeron range.

This is billed as one of the best NAS for tighter budgets. Synology was kind enough to provide NAS Master with the sample for this review, though the company had no input on our findings and the review itself.

Synology DiskStation DS223j

Best budget NAS

Synology DiskStation DS223j
Synology DiskStation DS223j. (Source: Synology)

Synology didn’t change much with the launch of the DS223j compared to its predecessor, the DS220j. There’s a new ARM CPU and support for Btrfs filesystem … and that’s about it. It’s still a great two-bay NAS.

CPURealtek RTD1619B
GPU
RAM1 GB DDR4
(1 GB max)
Bays2 SSD/HDD
Expansion
Cooling1x 92 mm
Ports1x 1 GbE
2x USB-A 3.2 Gen 1
Power draw~16.31 W
  • Affordable price
  • Two drive bays
  • DSM operating system
  • Limited CPU performance
  • 1 GbE networking
  • No M.2 slots and limited RAM

Price and availability

Synology DiskStation DS223j
Synology DiskStation DS223j contents. (Source: NM)

The Synology DiskStation DS223j is available for $190. This is the same MSRP as the outgoing DS220j, meaning Synology made some upgrades and kept the price the same, providing additional value to those who are looking to purchase a two-bay NAS for the home or small office.

Design and features

Synology DiskStation DS223j
Synology DiskStation DS223j inside its box. (Source: NM)

ARM-powered NAS such as the Synology DiskStation DS223j is designed primarily as a means to securely store data in the cloud. Because of the low-power chip and non-upgradable internal components, the DS223j shares the same all-white plastic design as the DS220j.

In fact, you’d be hard-pressed to tell the difference with both NAS positioned next to each other. The front of the DS223j has five LED indicators and a power button. The two sides have Synology branding and the top and bottom panels are completely bare.

The rear of the Synology DiskStation DS223j is where all the magic takes place with the single 1Gb LAN connection, two USB-A ports, and DC input from the external power supply. It’s an attractive server for the price and is a welcomed departure from the sea of all-black metal NAS boxes on the market.

Software

Synology DSM 7
Synology DSM 7 home screen. (Source: NAS Master)

Diskstation Manager (DSM) is the software that powers the Synology DiskStation DS223j, much like every other Synology NAS. This represents excellent value as the NAS itself costs $190, yet runs the same software as a Synology enclosure costing more than $1,000. Setting up the DS223j after installing a drive or two is incredibly simple.

For initial setup, the NAS can be found on the network using the assigned IP address, one of the Synology mobile apps, or Synology Assistant software on a PC. The best way to install DSM and configure the DS223j is through a browser and the wizard explains each step of the process well enough for those who are new to the world of NAS.

Once everything has been installed, DSM will launch you into the login screen and onto the main “desktop” view, much like an operating system would on a laptop or desktop PC. From here, apps can be installed through Package Manager, drives can be managed, settings configured, accounts created, and data stored. Synology NAS such as the DS223j supports a variety of protocols for transferring data.

Performance

Synology DiskStation DS223j
Inside the Synology DiskStation DS223j. (source: NM)

Inside the Synology DiskStation DS223j is the trusty Realtek RTD1619B processor. This is a relatively new processor, having only launched at the start of 2023 and already it has found its way inside Synology’s more affordable enclosures. It’s a four-core chip with a maximum boost speed of 1.7 GHz.

With a TDP of just 5 watts, expectations should be kept in check when considering the DS223j for the home or office. The chip and the 1GB of DDR4 RAM will work well for storing files and performing lighter tasks. More advanced usage such as running a surveillance center or Plex Media Server should be avoided.

Compared to its predecessor, the Synology DiskStation DS223j performs better across the board thanks to the improved performance of the processor. Like most prebuilt NAS enclosures, the DS223j doesn’t come with preinstalled drives. We used two 4TB Synology HAT3300 drives for the purpose of this review.

The two drives were configured in RAID1. We were able to fully saturate the 1Gb connection with read and write speeds of 115MB/s, respectively. The Realtek CPU had no issue keeping up with SMB and other protocol demands. It won’t win awards for performance and will struggle with heavier software downloaded through Package Manager, but the DS223j is a solid choice for those wanting to stash files away for safekeeping.

Competition

TerraMaster F2-223 and QNAP TS-253E
TerraMaster F2-223 with the QNAP TS-253E.

There’s considerable competition for the Synology DiskStation DS223j, mostly from TerraMaster. The TerraMaster F2-212 just launched and it has similar hardware to the DS223j but with a lower price tag. Costing just $170, the competing F2-212 comes with the same processor, RAM, and drive bays, but it actually uses drive trays instead of requiring the removal of the outer chassis.

This makes it more of a traditional enclosure with support for quickly swapping out drives without tools. Synology wins with its best-in-class NAS operating system but TerraMaster is quickly catching up with recent major releases and soon the company will offer a complete package at a more affordable price.

Should you buy the Synology DiskStation DS223j?

Synology DiskStation DS223j
Front of the Synology DiskStation DS223j.

Who should buy this?

  • Those who don’t need to store too much data.
  • Those who need a compact NAS with an ARM CPU.
  • Those who are buying their first NAS.
  • Those who want to share files and collaborate with others.

Who shouldn’t buy this?

  • Those who want to perform more advanced tasks such as transcoding media.
  • Those who need to store more than 40TB of data.
  • Those who seek more bandwidth than a single 1 Gb network port provides.

We’d recommend the Synology DiskStation DS223j to those who don’t need to store too much data. The two drive bays are excellent for packing high-capacity drives full of content but it’ll quickly be limited by the lack of any expansion support. The ARM CPU is more than capable of handling the storage needs of a home or office too.

Whether you’re looking to buy your very first NAS or need something more affordable for collaborating within the same office, the DS223j is a good match. Having access to the DSM OS is one of the highlights as it’s a powerful software solution, even with limited hardware. For $190, the same price as the DS220j, this is a great NAS.

Synology DiskStation DS223j

Synology DiskStation DS223j
Synology DiskStation DS223j. (Source: Synology)

Synology made minor changes with the DiskStation DS223j. There’s a new, more capable ARM processor and support for Btrfs. What there isn’t is a price increase over the DS220j, which is brilliant.

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