The below left image shows the back cover of the DS414j hinged down to reveal the drive trays, as well as the fronts of the fans which are protected with chromed gaurds. The U-shaped cover of the device can now be removed, which requires it to be hinged toward the front and lifted off. This is necessary to access the screws that hold the drive trays to the frame, all of which makes sure that the drive's data and power connections stay properly seated.
The device was provided pre-populated with drives, so we will be looking at it in a bit of the reverse order of a typical installation. Each drive is secured to its drive tray with four screws, and each tray is held to the frame with one screw on either side (two total). With the screws holding the drive trays to the frame removed, the drive / tray combo can easily be slid out by grabbing each handle and pulling toward the back of the DS414j. The images below take a look at the empty NAS server chassis, which reveals a neatly laid out mainboard, with connections at the front and back end. At the front end of the housing there is a ribbon connector for the front panel LEDs and power button, as well as a slot for a daughter board that includes the SATA data / power connectors for each of the four drives. At the back side of housing there are fan headers, as well as connections for all of the back panel connections (USB, network, power).
Other than the CMOS battery, everything on the DS414j's motherboard is embedded. The CPU is soldered to the board (the large silver square near the center of the mainboard), and despite being a dual core 1.2GHz unit, it doesn't even require a heatsink to cool it! Additionally, the 512MB of DDR3 memory is soldered to the board, so it will not be like some other NAS devices where you can upgrade it by purchasing a higher capacity SODIMM.
The next two images show how a 3.5" hard drive is installed in one of the four drive trays. Four screws hold the drive to the tray, and then it can be slid in to an open slot in the NAS server. To secure each drive tray to the housing, a screw is then attached to each side. The installation is not tool-less, but it is very easy and provides for a very secure connection between the drives and the SATA data/power connections. Taking a look at the picture of the bottom of the drive installed in its drive tray reveals that there is an additional set of four holes in the bottom of the tray. You would use these to secure a 2.5" drive to the tray, and it will then be positioned properly to connect to the SATA data/power header. This would allow you to re-purpose some laptop drives, or to get a bit crazy and install SSDs in here.
The configuration for this review will include four 2TB Seagate Barracuda 3.5" drives in Synology's Hybrid RAID (SHR) configuration. I would typically implement a RAID 5 array when using a 4-drive device like this, but since it showed up pre-configured in SHR, I decided to give it a shot. More details on what SHR offers can be found on Synology's Wiki page on the subject
. RAID 5 is my preferred configuration as it provides for redundancy and improved read performance over a single drive / JBOD configuration, but now that I have read up on SHR I understand that it offers similar benefits.
The Synology DS414j was connected to a network where all wired devices feature Gigabit network adapters, and all cabling is done with CAT6 grade cables. The Synology provided CAT5e cable was put aside in order to use a three foot CAT6 cable connecting the DS414j directly to a D-Link branded Gigabit switch. The computer used to access the NAS for the tests in this review was also connected directly to this switch with a ten foot CAT6 cable. With the DS414j's built-in Gigabit port, and all other hardware used for testing fully supporting Gigabit speeds, we should get a good approximation of just how fast this device can go in our various tests!