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Synology DiskStation DS223 Review (vs. DS224+): An Entry-Level NAS Server that Means Business

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The DS223 is the first standard Synology NAS server I've officially tested in a long time. Previously, I've reviewed mostly the Plus line. But after getting a third unit for personal use β€” the server was first available in February β€” I decided it deserved a review.

Here's the bottom line: This standard server is an excellent buy for general users with Gigabit bandwidth needs. At $250 (diskless), it's a much better deal than the more expensive DS224+, which delivers the same performance in most cases.

Looking to dabble in the serious world of network-attached storage? Consider a DiskStation DS223 today! It's an excellent first NAS server to carry you over to 2024.

Synology DiskStation DS223 NAS Server Box Content
The Synology DiskStation DS223 NAS server includes a network cable and a box of small screws for 2.5-inch drives.

Synology DS223: A solid frill-free standard server

Per Synology's naming convention, what separates a Plus (+) server from a standard one is generally that a + server has more network ports and upgradable RAM.

Certain + servers can also host an expansion unit, though that's increasingly becoming a bad idea.

The DS224+, for example, has two Gigabit ports and supports up to 6GB of RAM. You can use it via Link Aggregation if you have a supported switch or router, and you can run more apps simultaneously if you pay to upgrade the RAM.

The DS223, on the other hand, has only one Gigabit network port and 2GB of RAM. But out of the box, without spending more on hardware, the two will deliver the same experience.

So, in most cases, the DS223 is a much better purchase. It delivers the core experience of any Synology NAS server for anyone with an existing Gigabit router.

Synology DiskStation DS223 NAS Server FrontSynology DiskStation DS223 NAS Server Drive Bay
The Synology DS223 shares the same design as most Synology dual-bay desktop servers. It comes with a faceplate that clips on the handles of the two drive trays.

Synology DS223 vs. DS224+: Hardware specifications

The two servers share almost identical appearance except when you look at their backside, where the DS223 has two USB ports and one Gigabit port, whereas the DS224+ has two Gigabit ports and one USB port.

Synology DS223Synology DS224+
DiskStation DS223DiskStation DS224+
CPURealtek RTD1619B
4-core 1.7 GHz
Intel Celeron J4125
4-core 2.0 (base) / 2.7 (burst) GHz
Stock memory2 GB DDR4
Max memory2 GB6 GB (2 GB + 4 GB)
Compatible drive type3.5" SATA HDD, 2.5" SATA SSD
Supported RAID typeSynology Hybrid RAID (SHR), Basic, JBOD, RAID 0, RAID 1
Hot-swappable driveYes
External port3x USB 3.0 Gen 12x USB 3.0 Gen 1
Storage expansionNone
System fan1 x (92 x 92 x 25 mm)
(replaceable)
File SystemInternal: Btrfs, ext4
External: Btrfs, ext4, ext3, FAT32, NTFS, HFS+, exFAT
Dimensions165 x 108 x 232.7 mm165 mm x 108 mm x 232.2 mm
Weight1.28 kg1.30 kg
Network Ports1x Gigabit2x Gigabit
Link Aggregationn/aYes
Wake on LAN/WANYes
Scheduled power on/offYes
Networking protocolSMB, AFP, NFS, FTP, WebDAV, CalDAV, iSCSI, Telnet, SSH, SNMP, and VPN (PPTP,
OpenVPN, L2TP)
AC input power voltage100 V to 240 V AC
Storage managementMax. single volume size: 108 TB
Max. number of system snapshots: 4,0965
Max. number of internal volumes: 64
Max. single volume size: 108 TB
Max. number of system snapshots: 65,5366
Max. number of internal volumes: 64
File sharing capabilitiesMax. number of local user accounts: 1,024
Max. number of local groups: 256
Max. number of shared folders: 256
Max. number of concurrent SMB/NFS/AFP/FTP connections: 200
Max. number of local user accounts: 2,048
Max. number of local groups: 256
Max. number of shared folders: 256
Max. number of concurrent SMB/NFS/AFP/FTP connections: 5007
Included cameraΒ licenses
(Surveillance Station)
2
Warranty2-year
MSRP (Diskless)$250$310
Synology Dual-Bay NAS servers' hardware specifications: DS223 vs. DS224+

It's worth noting that DS223's CPU is great for general performance but not for video transcoding. If you're looking to host a home-grown video streaming service, the DS224+ is a better choice. It has more powerful hardware overall and has some upgrade options.

Synology DiskStation DS223 NAS Server Back
The backup of the Synology DiskStation DS223 NAS server. The single Gigabit port, while enough in most cases, means there's no support for Link Aggregation to increase the bandwidth.

A familiar server with zero upgrade option

Out of the box, the DS223 comes with two drive bays, each of which can host a SATA drive. Like all other Synology NAS servers, the drive trays are tool-free. You can securely install a standard 3.5-inch hard drive to it using the included latches.

However, if you want to use 2.5-inch hard drives or SSDs, they will need to be secured to the tray via four screws, and the server includes a little bag of them, more than enough for two drives.

Other than the storage β€” where the three USB ports will come in handy β€” the server has no other upgrade options. Its RAM is soldered on the motherboard and can't be changed. There's no second RAM slot, no way to increase its network speed to more than Gigabit, and no option for SSD caching.

However, in most cases, that's all you'd need. And the DS224+ would be on the same board until you spend more on hardware upgrades.

Synology DiskStation DS223 NAS Server TraySynology DiskStation DS223 NAS Server Tool free Design
The server has a tool-free design for those using 3.5-inch standard hard drives.

The standard setup process, lots of options, no virtual machine or Plex

The Synology DS223 features DSM 7 and has the same setup process as any other server, as described in this post.

Specifically, once you've installed the internal drives, connect the server to the network via its network port, then from a local computer, navigate a browser to find.synology.com, and the rest is self-explanatory.

It took me about 10 minutes to get the server up and running.

The DS223 supports ext4 and Btrfs file systems. The support for ext4 is only for backward compatibility β€” users can migrate the storage from an older server in a hardware upgrade. Btrfs offers more functions, including support for Snapshots and Replication, which keeps the data safe from ransomware attacks.

Synology DiskStation DS223 Web User InterfaceSynology DiskStation DS223 Web User Interface Package Center

The server comes with over 50 Synology apps plus more than 30 third-party and contributors' apps available via Package Center β€” you can also manually install apps from different sources.

Among these apps, the following are notable:

  • Synology Chat: A Slack-like chat system with a back-end server and front-end applications via desktop and mobile apps. It works exceptionally well as a collaboration tool for a small office.
  • Download Station: A well-designed self-download app that can download files from any source. It also has a powerful torrent search engine.
  • Synology Drive Server: A must-have app that turns the server into a personal cloud and allows you to sync, share, and back up data between multiple devices. It's like Dropbox, but much better.
  • Snapshot Replication: A crucial app for data security. It includes the shadow copy backup (snapshots) and replication functions. The former can automatically save a version of the data based on a schedule, allowing you to restore it to a point in the past. The latter can automatically replicate the data in real-time to a different location, such as an external drive. The two keep data safe even when accidentally deleted, damaged, or altered.
  • Hyper Backup: This is a versatile backup app that can automatically backup files stored on the server to multiple destinations, including USB drives and a host of online storage services β€” Google Drive, Amazon Drive, and Microsoft Azure, to name a few.
  • Surveillance Station: This app turns the server into a comprehensive surveillance system when coupled with supported IP cameras. Note that the server includes only two camera licenses, with additional licenses costing $60 each unless you use Synology cams.

Also notable is the omission of the Virtual Machine Manager and Plex Server apps, which are generally available in the Plus series. However, this makes sense, considering the server's limited RAM and relatively modest processing power.

Still, for most homes and small offices that only need data sharing and network backups, the DS223 has more than enough.

Synology DiskStation DS223: Excellent Gigabit-class performance

As mentioned, I've used a couple of DS223 units since the model was first available at the beginning of the year, and all of them have been working well with no issues.

While Synology always suggests "supported" hard drives and SSDs, I've successfully used any HDD and SSD brands with the server.

Even when running on two hard drives β€” SSDs generally deliver even better performance β€” the DS223's DSM 7.2 interface was responsive and pleasant to use. Despite having just 2GB of RAM, the server can easily run multiple apps. (Still, you shouldn't run more than a few simultaneously.)

Synology DiskStation DS223 Write PerformanceSynology DiskStation DS223 Read Performance

The server was also cool and quiet, even during long operations. Most of the time, the sound of the hard drives was louder than its internal fan, which was almost silent.

In terms of throughput speeds, it was quite clear that the single Gigabit port was the bottleneck. I tested the server using two SSDs at first and then two hard drives; in either case, its sustained speed was that of a 1Gbps connection after overhead.

Considering this network port, generally, there's no point in using SSDS with this server, though that wouldn't hurt.

Overall, if you are happy with Gigabit, the Synology DS223 proved an excellent performer.

Synology DiskStation DS223 NAS Server's Rating

8.6 out of 10
Synology DiskStation DS223 NAS Server
Performance
8 out of 10
Features
9 out of 10
Design and Setup
8.5 out of 10
Value
9 out of 10

Pros

Fast and reliable performance

Robust operating system with tons of useful home and business applications, including advanced shadow backups and replication

Straightforward setup process and easy-to-use

Quiet operator

Cons

Single Gigabit port; no multi-Gigabit options; zero upgradability

Only 2GB of RAM; no Virtual Machine; minimum media streaming support

Conclusion

The Synology DiskStation DS223 has everything for anyone to start with network-attached storage. While it's disappointing that there's no support for multi-Gigabit, virtual machines, or Plex, none is a deal breaker in most cases.

If you want to share data among family members or even remote friends and keep it safe from malicious or unintentional alteration, get this server and a pair of sizable hard drives, and you're good to go. Add a couple of IP cameras to use with its Surveillance Station app, and you'll be even happier.

If you have a slightly higher budget and want a server that can also handle media streaming, the DS224+ is a better option. The next step is the DS723+, which offers much more, including upgrade options to 10Gbps, NVMe storage, up to 32GB of RAM, and additional drive bays via a DX517 expansion unit when needed.

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10 thoughts on “Synology DiskStation DS223 Review (vs. DS224+): An Entry-Level NAS Server that Means Business”

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  1. Hi Dong,

    I was hoping to get your input- both the AND 224 models (as lots of out of the box storage devices) dont have much processing power, however with Intel’s QS, it can help make an impact. Generally speaking; what are your thoughts on the ds224+ for pms and transcoding? specifically for more heacy lifting (higher bitrate files, multiple transcodes etc)?

    Thanks a lot

    Reply
    • As I mentioned in the review, Mark. If you’re into streaming (Plex, etc.) the DS223 is not for you, go with the DS224+ or a higher-end model, including those with AMD CPUs.

      Reply
  2. The biggest con is when you look at their limited approved drives list and start pricing out a build the total build cost will be well above other similar NAS. It looks like a long list until you start looking for specific brand/capacities. Who wants to pay a premium price for something that effectively has no support/warranty unless you buy from a restrictive drive list that skyrockets the total cost.

    Reply
    • To be fair, Aaron, there’s no similar NAS. Synology is way ahead of everyone else. And if you still need support, you shouldn’t complain. Otherwise, go with whichever HDDs you like.

      Reply
  3. Appreciate the site! Couple questions: I would like to get a NAS for backing up my wife’s and my computers (pictures/data/etc) and to install 4 PoE IP cameras. Can the DS223 handle it? Also what size drives do you recommend? I have gigabit Ethernet wired home network ready to go.
    Thanks!

    Reply
    • Good question! My guess is it’s about backward compatibility. It’s much easier to have a USB-A to USB-C adapter or cable than the other way around.

      Reply

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