As I've noted in the recent previous Synology product reviews, all of Synology's NASes operate using DiskStation Manager 6. DSM 6.1 provides a common set of features and a consistent user interface across all of Synology's products. Of course, some higher-end products support enhanced features, such as the BTRFS filesystem that isn't supported on the Value Series products.
If you want to take the user interface for a test drive, Synology has an online emulator for the beta version of DSM 6.2. This link will give you a 30-minute session to explore the user interface. Of course, some admin features and well as cloud storage and file synchronization are disabled in the demo.
The screenshot below shows the DSM 6 control panel along with the performance widget running on the desktop. This was created from the online DSM 6.2 beta.
Synology DSM 6 Control Panel
DSM 6.1.5-15254 2 firmware was loaded onto the DS118 and performance tests were run using the Revision 5 NAS test process. All tests were run using a Western Digital Red 1 TB ST1000VN001 (x1 SNB supplied).
As noted earlier, most of our previously tested single bay NASes have been discontinued, so have been moved to the Charts archives. You can still view the test results by selecting Show Archived Products in the Charts, but archived products are removed from the NAS Ranker. There is currently only one other single bay (NoRAID class) NAS in the charts, but comparing against Seagate's Personal Cloud isn't a fair fight. It's not really a general purpose NAS and it's almost three years old.
So to have something to compare against, I chose the DS218play. This is not an apples-to-apples comparison since the DS218play results reflect performance with two drives in RAID 0. But in reality, the performance limitation for these tests is the single Gigabit Ethernet connection between each NAS and the NAS benchmark system. I removed all of the RAID 1 test results for the DS218play from the Benchmark Summary below to make it easier to do a line-by-line comparison of the test results.
Sometimes, the best surprise is no surprise at all and that's the case with the DS118 results. Both NASes had throughput well above 100 MBps for the File Copy Read and File Copy Write tests. That is the maximum that you can expect based on a single client test with a Gigabit connection. Many of the test results were within a couple of percentage points of each other with the DS118 slightly outperforming the DS218play on the USB 3.0 backup tests, the Network Backup tests and iSCSI.
Synology DS218play and DS218j Benchmark summary comparison
At around $180, the DS118 is not an inexpensive NAS. But it stands toe-to-toe with our #1 ranked two-bay NAS, Synology's DS218play. With the exception of RAID capabilities, the DS118 shares the same features as the DS218play including a hardware encryption engine, a 4K Multimedia Server that supports 10-bit H.265 online transcoding, Public Cloud Integration and low noise and power consumption.
While you could save yourself $50 by purchasing the single-bay DS118 compared to purchasing the DS218play, I'd recommend against doing so. Even if you don't populate the DS218play with a second drive to add RAID1 fault tolerance now, and least you'll have the option of doing so in the future.