Its been a few years plus that the DS918+ has graced us with its 4-bay splendor and how it quickly became a hit with users. With the added advantage of having M.2 onboard it eliminated the expense of needing to add an additional M.2. SSD adapter card. Well finally, the upgrade is here! Following similar Synology product methodology and patterns, the DS920+ (launched 2020) had the most minimal of upgrades. The 4-bay has been rejuvenated with a new Processor, the Intel Celeron J4125 Quad-Core processor at 2.0GHz, which can burst up to 2.7GHz. This does have a decent turn of performance to the previous generation on the DS918+. Careful though, you can mistake the old with the new very easily, suffice the labels and the processor. So look closely before ordering.
The frontal aspect of the Synology DS920+ houses the tool-less design four 3.5″ drive bays. These then depict the total “terabyte” we can install, which currently it’s 16TB drives that will give us a gross capacity of 64TB. These are also housed in hot-swap bays, so removal and replacement is easy.
DS920+ Memory Upgrades
While we are discussing the changes, it does appear the DS920+ also has a new motherboard, one that supports the new processor with its corresponding chipset, but lets not get too bogged down with this. The change has also affected the way memory is installed, it’s positioning has shifted. The DS920+ comes with 4GB so only one more strip of 4GB can be installed – and this is now accessible via the HDD bay. Quite simple and no fuss.
As we are talking memory, one needs to be aware Synology does frown upon any third-party upgrades, aside from using their memory it seems. This may seem to many as being unscrupulous, but Synology does have a point. Many users can be rather mindless and purchase much lower quality memory modules that not only hamper compatibility but can also corrupt data. Should this occur, the same user will protest profusely at how awful the NAS is and how data was lost. Memory in a NAS is sensitive and hence if a manufacturer is providing warranty then guidance should be sought. The only other alternative is to buy from a reseller with extensive expertise in integration of NAS devices to guide with the quality of memory to use.
Accessories included inside the box:
- Quick Installation Guide
- AC Power Cord
- AC Power Brick (100W)
- 2 x RJ-45 LAN Cables
- 1 x Package Head Screws for 2.5″ HDD’s
- Keys for Tray Lock
The View From the Back
At the back of the unit, aside from the relocation of the Kensington Security Slot and access to cooling fans, no other notable feature changes can be seen.
Having recently reviewed the QNAP TS-453D, which is a direct competitor to the DS920+, it appears Synology has once again overlooked a major opportunity to vindicate it’s loyal use base by eliminating the 2.5GbE or 10GbE option. Now the QNAP does have 2.5GbE which is a great boost to home and small business users with the advent of switches supporting this standard being launched now it was an opportunity Synology should have grasped.
The NAS industry is moving swiftly to incorporate 2.5GbE, and the cost of the chip between 1GbE and 2.5GbE is so small, to insert a pair and backward compatibility with 1GbE would have not made a huge difference really!
This is a major omission and one buyers must take seriously when comparing, and its not the first time Synology has messed up.
Thankfully the NVMe x 2 slots are still prevalent. These cannot be used as a volume mind you, only as caching. So don’t go getting any bright ideas about using M.2 for volume provisioning.
We will also touch upon the compatibility list and what is supported by the DS920+ as this then must also be inspected before purchasing as in some instances it can curtail our choices be then present or future.
A Case in Point – Compatibility for HDD/SSD
One of the most important aspects of any NAS or for that matter any storage array has to be the “storage” within the server.
Whether its HDD, SSD or a Hybrid combination quality, reliability and compatibility has to be at the forefront of our selection criteria when purchasing storage medium. For many years this was the order of importance. Now it seems we need to check compatibility first, as with any other industry the cracks of shortcomings, cutting cost, and eliminating features with drive manufactures is getting rampant again. A switch of firmware eliminates the feature and we are left with an expensive array of hard disk drives that will fail in RAID and compromise your data. Sound familiar? Well it defeats the purpose of the exercise to buy a disk array to protect your data if this happens.
So why are we so emphatic about compatibility in this article? Well, simply put, recently Western Digital (WD) and of course aka HGST, have once again been in the limelight with, would you believe, their famous NAS RED Drives. Some users are experiencing problems adding the latest WD Red NAS drives to RAID arrays and suspect it is because they are actually shingled magnetic recording drives submarined into the channel.
Our advice? Just keep away from WD drives, no matter what model – at least until matters of compatibility and reliability are ironed out. If you have WD drives currently DON’T upgrade the firmware.
DS920+ Compatible Drives
Now back to the compatibility list for the DS920+ – do check on Synology’s site before you jump in as if drives are not on their list Synology does tend to curtail support, and in most cases refuse to support.
Seagate Ironwolf PRO – termed by Synology as “Enterprise NAS”, ranging from 2TB up to 16TB. We need to point out Seagate has changed some of the models and these may have not been refreshed on the list. All the ”NAS” drives are listed as well – so a decent choice.
Seagate Exos Enterprise – the drives supported seem to be from 2TB-8TB and no larger than that. Which is rather disappointing, as these are at the top of the HDD range.
Toshiba Enterprise – once again a meager amount, just three drives, 6, 8 and 10TB.
The Synology DS920+ is a great upgrade from the DS918+ with better performance, more memory (always helps), and the ability to utilize all the brilliant apps Synology has to offer. Most certainly among the top 4-bay NAS devices currently on the market. However, we caution you to choose wisely on the type of hard disks you decide to purchase.