Synology 216+II NAS review

Synology is the first company that many people think about when it comes to NAS, so we had high expectations for the 216+II. It’s a two-bay device that supports drives up to 10 TB in size, so providing 20 TB of storage or 10 TB if you use either RAID 1 mirroring or the company’s own Synology Hybrid RAID, which we’d recommend. The 216+II is powered by Celeron N3060, part of a Braswell-based SoC, offering burst speeds up to 2.48GHz. Synology says the 216+II NAS can support fast transfer speeds even with encrypted data and 4K UHD transcoding on the fly, so it should make for a good solution for both work and play. Also see: Best NAS drives 

At just over £230 the Synology is decent value (buy it at Amazon), though the similar QNAP TS-251A is even more so as it features an HDMI out, two Ethernet ports and a USB port you can use to copy files to the drive, while the Asustor AS1004T offers four bays rather than two for less money. 

Neither can match the Synology’s build however. The design could be fairly described as classy with a much more solid feel than most of the other NAS units we’ve looked at. At the front there’s a power button Status and LAN lights and a light to show the presence of activity on the two disks. A curved plastic cover hides the two drive bays. 

As far installation is concerned we liked the tool-less set up. You just push and slide out the mechanism and then slot in the disks, which are held in place by plastic pins that affix to the side; it’s well thought out. Sure, you’ won’t be installing disks often but it was a pleasing touch. 

The software setup was also equally impressive readying the disks quickly and installing Synology’s DiskStation Manger (DSM) 6.0 software. The remote connect feature was particularly smooth. suggesting I just drag a shortcut to the desktop during set up for the Easy Connect link, which provides remote access to the NAS. 

DSM 6.0 is Synology’s slick and very mature NAS OS. It has detailed, looking icons and a clear layout making it a pleasure to navigate. System Heath and Resource monitor widgets sit by default in the bottom right with the main menu accessible at the top left. 

The Package Center reveals the huge range of apps available across a wide range of categories for media, such as streaming apps like Plex and audio and photo apps. There’s also business features such as cloud syncing apps, mail servers and surveillance apps. If you want to use your NAS for something the chances are there’s a Synology app for that. 

However, it wasn’t until I tried to install an app that I was told I needed to setup my storage. I was a little surprised thinking it was all done at this point, but it turned out that this is where you choose how your disks are configured. With two disks I was going to choose the standard RAID 1, but I then noticed the option for Synology Hybrid RAID (SHR). This basically lets you combine hard drives of different sizes, which was moot for our tests with two 8 TB drives, but in this NAS would give your more flexibility in the future for upgrades. Either way we were pleased that the process completed very quickly. Once setup the drives are pre-populated with Music, Photos and Video share, and USB share option if you have a memory stick in. See all NAS drive reviews

Synology 216+II NAS review: Performance

Once set up we were keen to test the 216+II multimedia prowess and so we loaded it with our tests video MKV and MP4 files. Some of these are encoded in H.264 while we also include two HEVC H.265 encoded files, once at 720p and one at 1080p. We installed Plex Media server and tested on a PS4 only to initially find that both files skipped and buffered. This was something of a surprise considering the impressive looking specs. After some head scratching and investigation we found that video and audio transcoding must be manually enabled in the Media Server app. This simple tick box did the trick and our high quality 1080p H.265 test file played back with no issue on our TV, via both a PS4 and an Oppo Blu-ray player. 

The files couldn’t be picked for some reason up by our favourite DLNA AVPlayer Media iPhone app but we were placated by the fact that using Synology’s DS Video app on an iPhone 7 Plus we had no problems streaming our files. 

To test the hardware transcoding we then switched to some 4K files. A 28.3 GB HEVc encoded files would not play on our Oppo and would only play stutteringly on a PS4 via Plex. However, using Synology’s Video Station on PC and DS Vide iOS app, we were able to play it back flawlessly. A 5.31 GB H.264 4K file was easier to handle and this streamed over DLNA to the Oppo Blu-ray player and the iPhone via without issue. 

In use the Synology always felt snappy and responsive. To get some raw performance numbers we used CrystalDiskMark on a Windows 10 PC and saw peak speeds of 118.3 read and 117.9 write. This is close to the maximum you’ll see from a single Gigabit Ethernet connection so there’s certainly no problems on that front. See all storage reviews

Synology 216+II NAS: Specs

  • • Intel Celeron N3060 Dual Core 1.6 burst up to 2.48 GHz • 1 GB DDR3 • 1x Gigabit Ethernet • 2x USB 3.0 port(rear), 1x USB 2.0 (front) • 1x eSATA • 1x 92mm fan • Max capacity: 2x 10TB • 108 x 165 x 233.2 mm (WxHxD)
  • • Intel Celeron N3060 Dual Core 1.6 burst up to 2.48 GHz • 1 GB DDR3 • 1x Gigabit Ethernet • 2x USB 3.0 port(rear), 1x USB 2.0 (front) • 1x eSATA • 1x 92mm fan • Max capacity: 2x 10TB • 108 x 165 x 233.2 mm (WxHxD)

OUR VERDICT

All-in-all the 216+II NAS matched up to our expectations from Synology and will be a very good choice for home or small business use. If you aren’t confident about installing hard disks, then this is the box to get as it’s easy and doesn’t require tools. There’s a huge range of applications to choose from the processor SoC offers plenty of horsepower to run them on too and it all runs quietly. With its fantastically easy installation, setup, app support and general ease of use the Synology is a very solid choice. However, if you like the idea of direct hook up via HDMI you may be swayed by the slightly pricier QNAP TS-251A.