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Synology DiskStation DS1618+ Review

Synology’s 5- and 8-bay desktop NAS appliances have proved to be very popular as they offer a good storage density and feature set at a great price. The latest DS1618+ aims to give small businesses even more choice as it uses a similarly compact chassis packed with 6 hot-swap drive bays.

This isn’t Synology’s first 6-bay appliance as it launched the DS3018xs around six months ago. However, being a member of the Plus family, the DS1618+ offers a more affordable alternative with prices for a diskless unit starting at only $799.

There are very few compromises in Synology’s search for value as the DS1618+ is powered by the latest quad-core 2.1GHz Atom C3538 CPU. Its base 4GB of DDR4 memory can also be upgraded to a very usable 32GB.

The appliance has quad Gigabit ports at the rear and offers a good expansion potential. Its PCI-Express slot accepts a wide range of industry standard 10GbE network adapters or Synology’s dual M.2 SATA SSD M2D17 expansion card

Good build quality

The DS1618+ exhibits the same sturdy build quality as its 5- and 8-bay brethren with the appliance clothed in a solid metal shell. It uses the same tool-free hot-swap drive carriers and we quickly inserted four 10TB IronWolf SATA hard disks.

Cooling is handled by pair of 9cms diameter cooling fans and noise levels are commendably low with the SPLnFFT iOS app on our iPad recording only 40.5dB at one meter in front. The USB 3 port count is the same as the DS1517+ with two at the rear and a third located at the bottom of the front panel.

The PCI-Express slot sits to one side at the back and we had no problems fitting an Emulex dual-port 10GBase-T network card. Memory upgrades are a cinch too, as the two SO-DIMM slots are behind an access panel in the base so you don’t need to remove the lid.

10GbE performance

With our pack of IronWolfs configured as a 27.3TB SHR-1 array, the DS1618+ delivered a 10GbE performance that agreed with Synology’s quoted speeds. With a NAS share mapped to an E5-2600 v4 Xeon Windows Server 2016 host, we saw Iometer report sequential reads of 9.2Gbits/sec but a lower write rate of 4.3Gbits/sec.

For real world performance, we saw drag and drop copies of a 25GB test file averaging read and write rates of 4.8Gbits/sec and 3.4Gbits/sec. It made a good job of our backup test with a 22.4GB folder and its 10,500 small files secured at a speedy 2.3Gbits/sec.

Encryption performance isn’t great as copying our 25GB test file to an encrypted share averaged only 1.5Gbits/sec. To put this in perspective, Qnap’s Ryzen-powered TS-877 desktop appliance delivered a much faster 2.7Gbits/sec during this test.

IP SAN performance was average at best with a 500GB iSCSI target returning Iometer sequential reads and writes of 6.8Gbits/sec and 5.8Gbits/sec. We ramped up the pressure with a dual 10GbE MPIO link and watched read speeds increase to 11.9Gbits/sec but write rates drop to 5.5Gbits/sec.

DSM 6.2 features

The official DSM 6.2 release offers a revamped Storage Manager app and storage analysis tools

The DS1618+ targets SMEs that want applications such as data backup, file serving plus application hosting and the now officially released DSM 6.2 software has these in abundance. A key feature is support for manual and scheduled NAS and IP SAN point-in-time snapshots on BTRFS volumes.

Workstation backup is handled by the Cloud Station Server app which works with the Backup Windows client to provide one-way synchronization or the Drive agent for two-way folder synchronization. The Hyper Backup app manages all your local, remote, Rsync, cloud and iSCSI LUN backups from a single console and integrates with Synology’s C2 Backup cloud service for essential off-site storage.

If you don’t want to install an agent on your systems, you can use the Active Backup for Servers app. This secures Windows and Linux systems to the appliance using network shares and Synology also offers Active Backup apps for G Suite and Office 365.

The Cloud Sync app supports 22 public providers including Dropbox, Google Drive, OneDrive and Azure. The Snapshot Replication app also lets you replicate NAS and IP SAN snapshots to remote Synology NAS appliances while the Cloud Station ShareSync app provides real-time two-way syncing between them for protecting selected shared folders.

Virtualization

The DS1618+ offers a huge range of data protection features including snapshots and replication

Synology’s Package Center app gets a revamped interface making it easier to browse the app store and install new ones. The Virtual Machine Manager (VMM) app is a winner as it allows the appliance to host VMs running any OS you choose although the appliance’s base 4GB of memory will need upgrading to get the best out of it.

We found the app easy to use and had a Windows Server 2016 VM loaded and ready to go inside 20 minutes. The app dashboard provides good access to VMs with options to power them on and off, link them to a specific vSwitch to isolate their network traffic and set up user access permissions.

Its big memory capacity makes the DS1618+ a good candidate for running the Virtual Machine Manager app

VMs are secured using protection plans and we created a schedule to run snapshots at regular intervals and apply a retention policy for a specific RPO (recovery point objective). We used the VM cloning feature to create multiple identical copies of our Windows VM and could also migrate them to another appliance running the VMM app.

Conclusion

The DS1618+ is a great value 6-bay appliance and a significant step forward as it offers a big DDR4 memory capacity and replaces the troublesome Atom C2538 in the DS1517+ and DS1817+ with a new C3538. Overall performance is a mixed bag but the appliance does deliver on Synology’s quoted speeds and the latest official DSM 6.2 software is packed to the gills with data protection features and a wealth of business-class apps.

8.8 Total Score

The DS1618+ is a great value 6-bay appliance and a significant step forward as it offers a big DDR4 memory capacity and replaces the troublesome Atom C2538 in the DS1517+ and DS1817+ with a new C3538. Overall performance is a mixed bag but the appliance does deliver on Synology’s quoted speeds and the latest official DSM 6.2 software is packed to the gills with data protection features and a wealth of business-class apps.

Performance
8
Features
9
Build quality
9
Usability
9
Value
9
PROS
  • Top value
  • Up to 32GB of DDR4 memory
  • Expansion slot
  • Good 10GbE NAS performance
  • Rich data protection features
  • Virtual Machine Manager app
CONS
  • Below par write speeds
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