One of the most popular NAS units from Synology is the DS918+, which was released over 3 years ago. The popular platform is finally getting an update with the new Synology DS920+ 4-Bay 1GbE NAS. It would be easy to mistake the product image with a DS918+ as they look almost exactly alike. The main differences with the DS920+ come down to labels and the processor. The new DS920+ features an Intel Celeron J4125 Quad-Core processor at 2.0GHz, which can burst up to 2.7GHz. This offers up a solid speed improvement with the new generation. In our review, we are going to see the impacts.
Synology DS920+ 4-Bay 1GbE NAS Overview
The front of the Synology DS920+ holds four 3.5″ drive bays. In the world of NAS units, the number of 3.5″ bays is often one of the biggest selection criteria.
For the drives, Synology uses a tool-less design, but there is still a tray involved. This is easy to put together. When the tray was first introduced, it was one of the easiest and most innovative in the industry. Now, many traditional server vendors have innovated and are offering tool-less drive trays with robust designs.
Let us highlight the changes between the DS918+ and the newer DS920+.
Another difference between the DS918+ and DS920+ is how the RAM is configured. The DS918+ allows both RAM modules to be easily replaced from the inside of the NAS bay. The DS920+ comes with one 4GB RAM module installed inside the NAS, and only one RAM slot is accessible through the HDD bay. Looking inside the HDD bay we see that the extra RAM slot can be accessed without to much trouble. You can see the linked DS918+ piece for the older version of this design.
Accessories included with the Synology DS920+ 4-Bay 1GbE NAS include
- Quick Installation Guide
- AC Power Cord
- AC Power Brick (100W)
- 2x RJ-45 LAN Cables
- 1x Package Flat Head Screws for 2.5″ HDD’s
- Tray Lock Keys
The back of the DS920+ is slightly different than the DS918+, which is mainly the location of the Kensington Security Slot. The cooling fans on the DS918+ are held into place by a bezel. These can be removed without taking the case off the unit. Here we see the cooling fans on the DS920+ secured on the inside of the case.
Something we were hoping for in a 2020 update is 2.5GbE or 10GbE. The industry is moving that direction in a big way this year and 2.5GbE controllers are relatively inexpensive compared to the cost of the NAS. This was an area that Synology should have innovated on. 2.5GbE is backward compatible with 1GbE so existing users on 1GbE would have the same capability with the ability to upgrade later.
Like the DS918+ we find two M.2 NVMe SSD expansion slots at the bottom of the DS920+ which are used for caching purposes, they cannot be an additional volume.
Let us move on to the hard drives we used with our unit.
We Used Seagate IronWolf and Warning for WD Red Hard Drives
We have started using Seagate Ironwolf 4TB HDD’s in our NAS testing for about a year now. These are solid performing HDD’s with the Ironwolf brand used for NAS units.
Notably, Seagate confirmed that these are still conventional magnetic recording or CMR drives.
Recently it was discovered that WD surreptitiously swapped SMR into the WD Red line using a technology called drive managed SMR or DM-SMR. We tested the new WD Red SMR vs CMR using ZFS NAS units and found they were unsuitable. After this story broke, Synology disqualified the WD Red DM-SMR drives from their NAS lines as we heard Synology owners were impacted too. You can learn more about that in our WD Red DM-SMR Update 3 Vendors Bail article. If you prefer the video version, this will help you get caught up.
For generations, we had recommended WD Red or Seagate IronWolf often based on price. The 256MB cache 2-6TB WD Red “EFAX” drives should be avoided in this and other NAS units.