Synology has been in the NAS business for a dozen years now, and has a wide range of models from single-bay home tabletop units to 12-bay and rackmount storage drives. Read more storage reviews.
The DiskStation range currently includes eight units in the heavier-weight SMB category, recognised by a + suffix that denotes enhanced performance for busier workloads. The Synology DiskStation DS412+ is a development of the DS411 and DS411j models, but taking a whole new case design that now suggests it’s built for business.
In place of 1.6GHz or 1.2GHz processors in the former models, the Synology DiskStation DS412+ takes a more lavish dual-core 2.13GHz Intel Atom chip – the same that Synology fits to its big DS1511+ and DS1812+ five- and six-bay units.
The Synology DiskStation DS412+ echoes the build quality of Synology’s other products – predominantly lightweight plastic construction, but well-crafted and with no small amount of style. In place of sturdy metal chassis and hinged doors, we find plastic bay trays and a pop-off plastic frontispiece.
And the Synology DiskStation DS412+ is the only NAS in this class we've seen that omits any form of illuminated display on the unit itself.
Synology DiskStation DS412+: Hardware Features
As well as having one of the fastest processors you’ll find in a NAS up to medium-business size, the Synology DiskStation DS412+ is well served in connectivity options. Two gigabit ethernet ports can be configured for link aggregation, if you have a compliant switch with 10Gb output. This is how Synology is able to boast top read/write speeds exceeding 205/182MBps.
As well as the usual USB port to the front, here a v2.0, there are two USB 3.0 behind. As useful for high-speed external drives is an available eSATA port.
Power supply is external, a chunky 100W block, while two 92mm fans keep the four discs operationally cool. Synology lists the processor stage as passively cooled.
The plastic boxwork may not embue the Synology DiskStation DS412+ with the same business-class feel as other NAS drives, but the choice of construction does make this unit quieter.
This is helped by such neat touches as rubber grommets around the disk-mounting screws, which conspicuously reduce frame vibration being transmitted through the case. The result is the quietest NAS box we've tested in its SMB class.
A line of green LEDs indicate disk activity, while a Status LED tries unsuccessfully to emulate the slow pulsing effect of Apple hardware when the unit is idle.
Synology DiskStation DS412+: Software Features
We’ve found Synology to have the most attractive and easy to use firmware in the business. The latest DSM 4.0 operating system brings the admin interface even closer to the appearance of a fully fledged modern PC OS, including a handy retractable system monitor panel to the right. Individual modules move with animations to the top-mounted dock when minimised.
Synology's DSM4.0 is the latest iteration of a beautifully crafted admin environment that more closely resembles a modern desktop Linux window manager
It may look simple, but the smart interface successfully skins a very powerful set of options below. There are the usual file-share protocols of CIFS, AFP, NFS and FTP, plus WebDAV, and a host of business virtualisation packages (VMware, Citirx and Microsoft).
Synology exCloud makes it straightforward to allow remote access to the drive; but Synology also takes security seriously. A default installation, for instance, disables all guest access, and a firewall and Auto Block help to keep out unwanted visitors from such NAS drives’ increasingly outward-facing connection options.
More fundamentally liberating can be Synology’s SHR RAID system (Synology Hybrid RAID), which allows disks of disparate sizes to mixed together in one volume.
In the negative column, use of Synology’s rsync Backup facility, to copy data to another NAS drive, would result in a myriad of annoying files and directories labelled ‘@eaDir’ getting scattered throughout the target volume.
Synology DiskStation DS412+: Performance
Read speeds of the Synology DiskStation DS412+ were fast, reaching 100MBps with small 512kB files, rising to our gigabit network’s maximum of 112MBps with all data above 20MB size.
And all-important write speeds were excellent across a range of file sizes, plateauing at around 70MBps in our tests. From 1MB and 10MB files, we saw write speeds of 20MBps and 54MBps respectively. The Synology was the second fastest unit in recently tested SMB-class NAS drives, beaten only in maximum write speed by the Netgear ReadyNAS Pro 6 with its desktop processor.
Yet the Synology DiskStation DS412+ also had one of the lowest power consumption figures, idling at just 15W with disks spun down. With four 2TB Hitachi Deskstar 7K3000 disks under load, overall power draw rose to 47W.