Synology DiskStation DS213air: First Take

If network cabling is impractical, Synology's Wi-Fi-equipped DS213air may prove useful. Aside from its wireless capability, it's a capable 2-bay NAS with excellent management software.
Written by Kelvyn Taylor, Contributor

Never a company to let a NAS niche go unfilled, Synology has announced its first NAS with built-in wireless networking capabilities. The twin-bay DS213air is based largely on the existing DS212j model, using the same white plastic case but with a different motherboard. It's aimed at the smaller end of the business market, for those looking for a desktop NAS unit for individual or small workgroup use.

The 2-bay DS213air supports drives up to 4TB, for a maximum 8TB capacity.

Although several Synology models support the use of USB Wi-Fi dongles, this is Synology's first to feature an onboard solution. It uses a dual-stream (2x2) 802.11n Atheros AR-5B87 mini-PCIe card to provide link speeds of 300Mbps on the 2.4GHz band. There's also a standard Gigabit Ethernet port, plus PPPoE support, meaning the device can be set up to function as a basic wireless router with a suitable WAN connection. It can also function as a wireless client or a wireless access point.

The DS213air's single-band 802.11n module allows it to function as a wireless client, router or access point.

Although aimed at the lower end of the market, the DS213air still uses the same DSM 4.1 software found across Synology's range, giving it outstanding versatility via add-on software modules, and reducing the learning curve for those familiar with Synology devices. It also supports business-friendly features such as iSCSI support, Active Directory integration and folder-level encryption (although this is not hardware-accelerated as in some larger models like the DS413). A range of free smartphone apps is available for iOS, Android and Windows Phone.

Synology's Disk Station Manager (DSM) management software supports a range of add-on modules.

As well as the existing Synology Assistant utility, it also supports the new Web Assistant that can be used to deploy the device with no need to install software on a client PC.

The DS213air supports drives up to 4TB, and these are configured by default using Synology's own SHR hybrid RAID. We gave it a spin with two WD Red 3B drives, and measured a Passmark DiskMark score of 397.3, which is pretty unimpressive. Connecting it as a wireless client, this figure dropped to 146 at close range, dropping further to around 127 at a distance of 5m from our router. The wireless capability does make it easier to use in environments where cabling is impractical, however.

The DS213air also has two rear-mounted USB 3.0 ports, but no eSATA capability. It consumes a measly 22W in action, or under 6W when hibernating. It's available now at £249.99 (inc. VAT, or £208.32 ex. VAT; or $299.99 in the US).

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