Front of the Synology DiskStation DS224+

Synology DiskStation DS224+ review: Keeping the Intel dream alive

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Synology has enjoyed a relatively peaceful period at the top of the NAS pedestal but the company has come under fire from TerraMaster, QNAP, ASUSTOR, and other competing NAS brands. The Synology DiskStation DS224+ is a highly anticipated two-bay NAS launch for 2023 and today we’re going to run you through everything new with this enclosure.

Compared to the outgoing Synology DiskStation DS220+, which feels like it has been around for longer than a few years, not much has changed. The design is the same. We’re looking at a slightly beefier Intel processor. The amount of preinstalled RAM is identical, so too are the drive bays and lack of any M.2 slots. Throw in the latest version of DSM OS and you’ve got one capable little box.

As mentioned already, Synology has some serious competition for the best NAS at its front door, mainly from TerraMaster, which has been able to cram inside its more affordable NAS better networking, and processors. The Synology DiskStation DS224+ is an interesting device then. It’s new, but not too new, old, but not too old. There’s plenty to appreciate here but it’s going to be a tough sell to those who wanted more.

Synology DiskStation DS224+

Another Intel NAS

Synology DiskStation DS224+
Synology DiskStation DS224+. (Source: Synology)
CPUIntel Celeron J4125
GPUIntel UHD Graphics 600
RAM2 GB DDR4
(6 GB max)
Bays2 (SSD/HDD)
Expansion
Cooling1x 92 mm
Ports2x 1 GbE
2x USB-A 3.2 Gen 1
1x eSATA
Power draw~14.69 W
  • Intel CPU with graphics
  • Compact NAS for Plex
  • DSM operating system
  • Same price as DS220+
  • Not the best Intel CPU
  • Still 1 GbE networking
  • Tough competition
  • No M.2 slots and limited RAM

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Price and availability

Synology DiskStation DS224+ in its box
Synology DiskStation DS224+ in its box. (Source: NM)

The Synology DiskStation DS224+ launched in August 2023 and was made available with an MSRP of $300. This is the same as the DS220+, which this enclosure replaces. For an Intel CPU, upgradable RAM, and an excellent OS, it’s not a terrible price to pay. Like most other enclosures, this NAS does not come with any drives.

We have a comprehensive guide on choosing the very best NAS drives for securely storing data with high reliability. The DS224+ is securely packaged within responsibly-sourced materials and we don’t expect anyone to spot damage to the NAS during shipping. A box of accessories is included, which consists of two CAT5e cables, some screws, a 60W power supply, and a power cord.

Design and features

Front of the Synology DiskStation DS224+
Front of the Synology DiskStation DS224+. (Source: NM)

Synology hasn’t changed anything with the design of the Synology DiskStation DS224+. It looks almost identical to the outgoing DS220+, aside from the model number printed on the front panels. There’s a removable panel that hides the two 3.5-inch drive bays, power and reset buttons, one of two USB-A 3.2 Gen 1 ports, and five LED status indicators.

The rear of the NAS houses the second USB-A 3.2 Gen 1 port, two 1GbE network connections, an eSATA port, and DC input from the external power supply. The single 92mm fan is also present, which makes use of gaps on the front panel, as well as the Synology branding on both sides of the NAS that double up as ventilation, to draw cool air through the chassis.

The entire enclosure is an all-black slab of plastic and metal. Extracting the two drive trays is straightforward and consists of pushing a lock button above each tray to release them. Synology makes use of a lock and key on other, more expensive NAS enclosures. The trays are made from plastic with two removable runners.

The runners are what secure a 3.5-inch drive to the tray, negating the need for any screws and tools. 2.5-inch drives aren’t so lucky and the included screws with the DS224+ will need to be used to attach flash drives to the two trays. The trays can then be slid back inside the NAS for a connection to be made with the SATA ports on the rear.

The single RAM DIMM slot is located on the right inside the chassis and can be accessed with both drive trays removed. This is where a single memory module can be installed to bump the maximum capacity up to 6GB (from 2GB). It’s a simple design that works.

Software

Synology DSM Plex
Plex in Synology’s Package Manager. (Source: NAS Master)

We’ve gone over the excellent DiskStation Manager (DSM) operating system and how this makes Synology’s NAS all the more capable compared to the competition. The Synology DiskStation DS923+ is capable of running the same version of the OS and we went into some detail in our comprehensive review for that NAS, but it’s worth reiterating here as the OS is that good.

Setting up a Synology NAS takes a couple of minutes once a drive has been installed and the enclosure powered on. Synology provides apps to help locate a NAS on the network if you’re unable to find its IP address. The installation wizard will greet you once the DSM UI has been loaded in a browser. This will handle disk management, the installation of DSM itself, and setting up the primary account.

Creating a Synology Account opens up access to various cloud-based features such as QuickConnect. After DiskStation Manager has been installed on the DS224+, it’s possible to log into the web interface to manage everything on the NAS. Installing apps takes a few clicks, as does checking for OS updates, making changes to system settings, and launching first-party Synology apps/services.

The UI is intuitive and easy to use, making it a painless move from a PC OS environment such as Linux or macOS. Synology’s software support is almost unmatched by what the company itself offers and how many apps are available through the Package Center. Apps can even be installed manually, should they be sourced for other locations outside of the DSM OS.

We’d recommend spending a good few minutes messing around with the OS to see where everything is located and make minor system adjustments. An app worth checking out is Storage Manager, which not only shows how installed disks are configured with storage pools but also allows one to check the status of the drives to spot early signs of failure.

Performance

Drives installed on the Synology DiskStation DS224+ tray
Drives installed on the Synology DiskStation DS224+ tray. (Source: NM)

We’re already fans of the Intel Celeron J4125 with its four physical cores and threads and a maximum burst speed of 2.7 GHz. It’s the very same processor found in the older Synology DiskStation DS720+ and DS920+ enclosures, which were considered flagship two and four-bay NAS from Synology’s previous generation of servers.

That’s essentially what the company did with the new DS224+. By upping the CPU slightly, Synology essentially created a more affordable DS720+ without M.2 slots for SSDs. This does mean that the DS224+ performs precisely as one would expect a DS720+ or DS920+, which makes it a very potent server for the home or small office.

We fired up Plex Media Server and ran multiple tests of the Synology DiskStation DS224+ streaming and transcoding files on the fly without encountering any issues. The CPU and GPU are more than capable of handling even the transcoding of a 4K media file without breaking a sweat, allowing other NAS users to perform other tasks.

The two 1GbE networking ports support link aggregation, which is handy for creating a redundant connection should one of the two links go down. It also doubles the bandwidth (not speed) available to clients across the network. We were able to fully saturate the bonded network link with various clients maxing out the two 1GbE connections at 100MB/s a piece.

Competition

TerraMaster F2-223
TerraMaster F2-223 with a 4TB Seagate IronWolf NAS HDD.

The two-bay NAS segment of the market is incredibly fierce with strong competition from TerraMaster and QNAP. Let’s take the TerraMaster F2-223 as an example, which comes in at $50 cheaper than the Synology DiskStation DS223+. It has a more powerful Intel Celeron processor, higher RAM capacity (32 GB vs. 6 GB), and 2.5 GbE networking. There are even two M.2 slots for SSDs.

That alone makes the Synology DiskStation DS224+ a difficult sell on specifications alone, which is where its impressive DSM operating system and wider cloud platform support come into play. They’re both excellent and among the best in the business. A combination of good hardware with solid software makes Synology NAS like the DS224+ a worthy purchase.

Should you buy the Synology DiskStation DS224+?

Synology DiskStation DS224+ with the front cover off
Synology DiskStation DS224+ with the front cover off. (Source: NM)

Who should buy this?

  • Those who don’t need to store too much data.
  • Those who need a compact NAS with an Intel CPU.
  • Those who are buying their first NAS.

Who shouldn’t buy this?

  • Those who are required to use the highest-capacity drives.
  • Those who are happy with their 20-series Synology NAS.

Whether you should buy (or upgrade to) the Synology DiskStation DS224+ depends on a few factors. Do you absolutely need to use the latest hardware from Synology, running DSM OS? The DS224+ is a good choice for those seeking a small compact NAS with an Intel CPU and one of the best operating systems in the business.

If you already own a 20-series Synology NAS, including the DS920+ and DS220+, I’d recommend looking elsewhere for better specifications if you have to make the upgrade as this isn’t worth the additional cost. It’s too close to the DS220+ to warrant another $300 to be spent.

Newcomers are welcome as this is an incredibly user-friendly NAS. The installation of DSM takes a few moments with a good internet connection, so too does the installation of up to two hard drives. The Intel processor is good enough to run just about anything you should task a two-bay NAS with, including running Plex Media Server.

The 1GbE networking is a disappointment, but one we’re fine overlooking since this is a budget-friendly NAS with only two drive bays. It’s not positioned within Synology’s product stack to go up against more powerful options from competitors. When looking at the DS224+ for what Synology markets the NAS as it’s not terrible value at all and a NAS worth considering for 2023.

Synology DiskStation DS224+

Synology DiskStation DS224+
Synology DiskStation DS224+. (Source: Synology)

The new Synology DiskStation DS224+ had some big boots to fill and while it’s mostly unchanged from the DS220+ it replaces, Synology is offering decent value here for small offices and homes.

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