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Synology DS923+ Review: An Excellent NAS Server to Start 2023 Off with a Bang

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If you ask me for the one gadget to safely put in the shopping cart right now before hitting that “buy” button as the year turns, the Synology DiskStation DS923+ (that’s DS923 Plus) would be it.

Among other things, it has a novelty that delivers the best NAS performance to date — if you’re willing to pay for the upgrades. And, as a 2023 model, the server is built specifically for the new year anyway.

This new DS923+ to Synology’s four-bay Plus product line is as significant as the DS1522+ to its 5-bay Plus family, plus a bit more. So many pluses!

Here’s the bottom line: If you’re looking for a robust 4-bay NAS server that gives you more than just the option to add 5 more bays via an expansion unit, the DS923+ is an excellent choice at $599 (diskless).

So drop one in that shopping cart today, and don’t forget to include the 10GbE upgrade module. It would be even better also to consider a couple of supported NVMe SSDs for the package.

Dong’s note: I first published this piece on November 16, 2022, as a preview and updated it to an in-depth review on December 30 after thorough hands-on testing.

The Synology DS923+ NAS shares the same design as other servers including an easy way to install hard drives.
The Synology DS923+ NAS shares the same design as other servers, including an easy way to install hard drives.
While you can use any hard drive or SSD with this server, or any server, Synology has slowly pushed for its own, which are just rebranded drives. Others generic NAS-specific drives, including the ones in this photo, have slowly been removed from the official supported list.

Synology DS923+: An all-new and exciting member of the 4-bay single-expansion family

The DS923+ is part of Synology’s family of 4-bay servers that can handle up to 9 internal drives. It’s the fourth generation — the product line started with the DS916+ (2016 model year.)

The server can host four internal drives by itself, but it comes with one eSATA port to host a 5-bay DX517 expansion unit, so it has 9 bays in total, which explains the DS923+ in the model name, per Synology’s naming convention.

The new server is of the model year 2023, but, just like cars, it came out in late 2022, on November 16, to be exact, in the US.

That general information aside, the DS923+ is unlike any of its predecessors. It’s the first within the lineage that has novelties collectively available in all those Synology released in recent years, including the latest DS1522+.

Specifically, it has two built-in NVMe M.2 slots and support for the new 10GbE upgrade module. And then it has something no existing consumer-grade Synology server has ever had: The ability to use NVMe SSDs as general storage.

Synology told me it might offer this NVMe storage capability to existing servers with NVMe M.2 slots via firmware upgrades. This remains to be seen.

Let’s check out the hardware specs to see how the DS923+ family has evolved over the years.

Synology DS923+ vs DS920+ vs DS918+ vs DS916+: Hardware specifcations

DS923+DS920+DS918+DS916+
CPUAMD Ryzen R1600
Dual-core 2-core 2.6GHz / 3.1 GHz (turbo)
Intel Celeron J4125 4-core 2.0 GHz, burst up to 2.7 GHzIntel Celeron J3455 quad-core 1.5GHz, burst up to 2.3GHzIntel Pentium N3710 quad-core 1.6GHz, burst up to 2.56GHz
System Memory1x 4GB DDR4 ECC (installed)4 GB DDR4 onboard 1x 4 GB DDR3L
(installed)
8GB DDR3
Max Memory32GB 
via two 
memory slots 
(16GB x 2)
8GB 
via an additional
4GB on a
single slot
8GB
via two 
memory slots
(4 x 2)
8GB
Dimensions6.53 x 7.83 x 8.78 in
(166 x 199 x 223 mm)
6.53 x 7.83 x 8.78 in
(166 x 199 x 223 mm)
6.53 x 7.83 x 8.78 in
(166 x 199 x 223 mm)
6.5 x 8 x 9.2 in
(165 x 203 x 233.2 mm)
Weight4.93 lbs
(2.24 kg)
4.93 lbs
(2.24 kg)
5.03 lbs
(2.28 kg)
4.5 lbs
(2.04 Kg)
Drive Bays4444
Expansion SupportYes 
(1x DX517)
Yes 
(1x DX517)
Yes 
(1x DX517)
Yes 
(1x DX513)
Drive 
Interface
SATA 6Gbps/3Gbps;
Hot-swappable
SATA 6Gbps/3Gbps;
Hot-swappable
SATA 6Gbps/3Gbps;
Hot-swappable
SATA 6Gbps/3Gbps;
Hot-swappable
Built-in M.2 SlotsTwoNoneTwoNone
Drive Support3.5″ SATA HDD
2.5″ SATA SSD/HDD
M.2 2280 NVMe SSD
(cache & storage)
3.5″ SATA HDD
2.5″ SATA SSD/HDD
M.2 2280 NVMe SSD
(cache only)
3.5″ SATA HDD
2.5″ SATA SSD/HDD
M.2 2280 NVMe SSD
(cache only)
3.5″ SATA HDD
2.5″ SATA/HDD
RAID TypesSHR
Basic, JBOD,
RAID 0, RAID 1, 
RAID 5, RAID 6,
RAID 10
SHR, 
Basic, JBOD,
RAID 0, RAID 1, 
RAID 5, RAID 6,
RAID 10
SHR, 
Basic, JBOD,
RAID 0, RAID 1, 
RAID 5, RAID 6,
RAID 10
SHR, 
Basic, JBOD,
RAID 0, RAID 1, 
RAID 5, RAID 6,
RAID 10
Ports 2x RJ-45 1GbE LAN, 
2x USB 3.0, 
1x eSATA
2x RJ-45 1GbE LAN, 
2x USB 3.0, 
1x eSATA
2x RJ-45 1GbE LAN, 
2x USB 3.0, 
1x eSATA
2x RJ-45 1GbE LAN, 
3x USB 3.0, 
1x eSATA
PCIe 
Expansion
NoneNoneNoneNone
Add-on card
(not included)
10GbE 
E10G22-T1-Mini
module
nonenonenone
DiskStation Manager
(operating system)
DSM 7DSM 7, DSM 6DSM 7, DSM 6DSM 7, DSM 6
File System
(internal /
external)
Btrfs, EXT4 / 
Btrfs, EXT4,
EXT3, FAT, 
NTFS, HFS+,
exFAT (via app)
Btrfs, EXT4 / 
Btrfs, EXT4,
EXT3, FAT, 
NTFS, HFS+,
exFAT (via app)
Btrfs, EXT4 / 
Btrfs, EXT4,
EXT3, FAT, 
NTFS, HFS+,
exFAT (via app)
Btrfs, EXT4 / 
Btrfs, EXT4,
ext3, FAT,
NTFS, HFS+
US Price
(at launch /
diskless)
$599.99$549.99$549.99$549.99
Warranty3 years3 years3 years3 years
Synology DS923+ vs DS920+ vs DS918+ vs DS916+: Hardware specifications

DSM 7, AMD CPU, and 10GbE upgrade module support

As you might have noticed in the table above, the new DS923+ differs from previous gens in hardware and software. Specifically:

  • It runs DSM 7 right out of the box. You won’t be able to run DSM 6 on it, not that there are many reasons you want to do that.
  • The new server is the first of the family and the second from Synology, besides the DS1522+, which comes with a quick slot for a 10GbE upgrade via the $150 Synology E10G22-T1-Mini module.
  • It’s the first in the DS9xx family that moves from an Intel to AMD. Specifically, it runs on a Ryzen R1600 dual-core CPU.

The transition to AMD CPUs generally means better overall performance. But conventional wisdom has been that the new CPUs come at the expense of media transcoding due to the lack of a built-in transcoding-friendly graphics processing unit (GPU), like the case of Intel counterparts.

Transcoding reduces the data size (as well as resolutions) and, therefore, the bandwidth needed when you stream to a remote device. It generally prioritizes smoothness and compatibility over quality in the streaming experience.

In my experience, the move to AMD has proven excellent all around. Modern front-end streamers, such as the Amazon Fire TV or Google TV, have a lot of power and can run apps that can transcode on the fly.

That, plus generally faster broadband and the demand for high resolutions even on mobile devices, means the need for media transcoding at the server’s hardware level has slowly become obsolete. But if you’re adamant about this feature, the DS920+ is the last server of this family to consider.

Synology told me that its upcoming consumer-grade servers would all use AMD CPUs for the foreseeable future.

Synology DS923 NAS Server with 10GbE ModuleSynology DS923 NAS Server 10GbE Upgrade Module Installed
The back of the new Synology DS923+ NAS server
Note the Network Upgrade Slot that hosts a 10GbEΒ Synology E10G22-T1-MiniΒ module (not included). This slot only works once the operating system is installed — don’t use this upgraded port for the setup process.

On the other hand, the new 10GbE Multi-Gig upgrade module is purely welcome news. Based on my experience with the DS1522+, it’s the must-upgrade accessory if you want to get the most out of these servers.

Over the years, Synology has made the native support for Multi-Gig a low priority. The DS923+ itself has two Gigabit ports out of the box. To put things in perspective, TerraMaster’s low-cost F2-223 server comes with two 2.5GbE ports.

And finally, again, the DS923+ is also the very first server that can deliver an NVMe-based storage volume (instead of cache-only purposes) which is something I’m most excited about.

NVMe storage is excellent but not without caveats

Before the DS923+, the use of NVMe SSDs limited to caching, which is generally useless in most home applications.

The new server makes its M.2 slots more useful by allowing users to create general storage volumes from them. In other words, you can use NVMe SSDs to host shared folders and other general data, such as apps or databases.

Synology DS923 NAS Server UndersideSynology DS923 NAS Server NVMe Installed
The Synology DS923+’s easy-accessible NVMe M.2 slots are on its underside. While you can use almost any NVMe SSDs for caching purposes, you must use Synology-approved SSDs if you want to use them for general storage.

I put this novelty to the test, and the results proved exciting and somewhat of a letdown. Let’s start with some caveats.

First, you can’t just use any NVMe SSDs.

Currently, the Synology SNV3410 (presently available in 400GB and 800GB) is the only supported drive. And it’s pretty expensive, almost doubling the cost of other same-capacity options from known SSD makers.

You can use a single NVMe SSD for storage purposes, but generally, you need two for any RAID configuration.

Secondly, you can’t use NVMe SSDs for the server’s boot volume — or its only volume. You must install the operating system on its SATA drives — those you put in the server’s drive bays — before you can manage the NVMe M.2 slots.

This is not a huge deal — you can still use the NVMe volume to store applications and different data types afterward. But if you want to use it to host the operating system to improve overall performance, it’s a no-go. And that’s a bummer. Hopefully, this will change via future firmware updates.

The Synology DDS923+ does not accept unapproved NVMe SSDs for general storage. The screenshot shows the message I got when trying two Seagate IronWolf 510 drives, which worked with the server caching purposes.
The Synology DDS923+ does not accept unapproved NVMe SSDs for general storage. The screenshot shows the message I got when trying two Seagate IronWolf 510 drives, which worked with the server for caching.

And finally, the NVMe volume doesn’t support hot-swapping. That means if you need to change a drive — either to rebuild a RAID or to scale up the storage space (via SHR) — you will need to turn the server off first.

The DS923+ has only two M.2 slots, so the most applicable RAID setups are RAID 0 and RAID 1. You can use SHR, but in this case, the performance will be the same as RAID 1 — the only benefit is that you can scale up the storage without rebuilding the RAID from scratch.

You can manage an NVMe storage volume the same way you do a standard SATA one on a Synology DDS923+.
You can manage an NVMe storage volume the same way as a standard SATA one on a Synology DDS923+.

Other than that, you can manage the NVMe SSDs like any other SATA drive. It’s self-explanatory via the server’s built-in Storage Manager app.

And in my trial, this volume delivers exceptional fast performance — more below.

Synology DS923 NAS Server Retail Box Content
The Synology DS923+ includes an external power adapter, two network cables, a set of drive bay keys, and a bag of screws (only needed for 2.5-inch SSDs/HDDs installation.)

A familiar server at heart

Like all other Synology NAS servers, DS923+ is powered by the well-known DSM operating system with a robust web-based user interface — similar to that of a native OS like Windows or macOS.

The OS by itself has lots of features and settings for home and business users alike. On top of that, it has more than hundreds of well-made Synology-approved apps that you can add to the server via the Package Center. And you can also install homemade, third-party Linux packages.

The DS923+ shares the same OS and, therefore, features and apps as the rest of Synology servers. Shown here is its package center.
The DS923+ shares the same OS, features, and apps as the rest of Synology servers. Shown here is its package center.

In short, the DS923+ will give you all you’d want from a NAS server, possibly more than you can imagine if you’re a first-time user. I wrote more about that in the primer piece on Synology NAS. (Please give it a read!)

Synology NAS servers: Why you’d want one

That said, the only things that make the new server different from the rest of the herd are its processing power, the number of drive bays, and storage options. This is where the support for NVMe plays a significant role in making it the fastest NAS server I’ve tested.

Synology DS923+: Unprecedentedly fast NAS performance

Before publishing this review, I used the server for over two weeks and had a good time with it.

Overall, it proved a reliable server, and it ran quietly, too. But, as mentioned above, it’s been a familiar experience. In most cases, you wouldn’t know the difference between it and, say, the DS1522+. That’s especially true if you use both servers with their stock hardware.

If you upgrade the DS923+ to 10GbE Ethernet and NVMe storage, things will be significantly different. And that’s precisely what I did.

Synology DDS923 Read PerformanceSynology DDS923 Write Performance
Synology DS923+’s performance via different types of storage (NVMe SSD vs SATA SSD vs HDD) and network connection speeds (10GbE vs Gigabit).
In my testing, RAID 1 and SHR (with two drives) generally delivered the same throughput.

As you will notice in the charts, thanks to the super-fast NVMe SSDs, via a 10Gbps connection, the DS923+ delivered the fastest sustained copy speeds ever seen in any consumer-grade NAS server. It was faster than many portable SSDs, which has been unheard of before this point.

But if you use it with the stock network ports, the best you’ll get is Gigabit’s ceiling sustained speed, around 100MB/s.

Overall, I’m impressed with the server’s performance and applaud its support for NVMe SSDs as storage.

Keep in mind, though, that when other servers with this feature are available — and they will be sooner or later — this type of performance will no longer be the DS923+’s exclusive offer. But until then, you’ll get a lot of well-deserved bragging rights from it.

Synology DiskStation DS923+'s Rating

8.9 out of 10
Synology DS923 NAS Server Comes with an external power adapters and two netork cables
Performance
9.5 out of 10
Features
9.5 out of 10
Design and Setup
8 out of 10
Value
8.5 out of 10

Pros

NVMe storage volume support; fast and reliable performance, easy 10Gbps network upgrade

Powerful AMD CPU; lots of useful home and business applications

Straightforward and consistent setup, upgrade, and management

Lots of network storage options

Runs cool and quiet

Cons

Extremely restrictive NVMe support for general storage; many generic NAS drives are not on the official supported list

No built-in Muli-Gig; expensive upgrade hardware (RAM, 10Gbps module, NVMe SSDs); no SFP+ option

Legacy eSATA for storage expansion; only two camera licenses included

Conclusion

As a 4-bay server, the new DiskStation DS923+ has fewer storage-related options than other larger servers, such as the 5-bay DS1522+ — for example, it has no option for RAID 6.

But thanks to the NVMe storage novelty, it’s, for now, the only consumer-grade Synology NAS server that can deliver over 1000MB/s of real-world sustained throughput speed.

Things will change when Synology enables NVMe storage support in other existing servers with NVMe M.2 slots or releases more servers with this feature.

If you’ve got yourself a Multi-Gig network — namely a 10GbE switch and a computer with a 10Gbps network card — the DS923+ (with upgrades) is an easy choice. It won’t seem financially easy at first, but those needing the performance will find it worth every penny.

It’s an experience that’s hard to come back from.

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8 thoughts on “Synology DS923+ Review: An Excellent NAS Server to Start 2023 Off with a Bang”

  1. Have you heard at all from Synology whether we will be able to install DSM on M2 SSD’s sometime soon? Or is that just wishful thinking?

    Could you post an update if you hear anything? That will essentially determine whether I upgrade to a new 2023 Synology NAS or not.

    Reply
  2. I just wanted to point out that DS920+ does have 2 built-in M.2 slots. I noticed that it’s missing from the “Hardware specifications” list.
    I’m using Samsung 980 500GB on mine on DS920+ for caching.

    Reply
    • It doesn’t struggle, Mahomed, it just doesn’t do it at the CPU level — as mentioned, AMD CPUs have no built-in GPU.

      Reply

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