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Synology DiskStation DS3018xs Review

Synology’s DS3018xs breaks with tradition as this is its first 6-bay desktop appliance. Targeting high demand business environments, it aims to stand out from its 5- and 8-bay stable mates on a number of counts.

When the DS1517+ and DS1817+ appliances were introduced this year, Synology didn’t upgrade their processors so they both use an elderly 2.4GHz Atom C2538. Not so with the DS3018xs as it sports a much newer dual-core 2.2GHz Celeron D1508 CPU.

Memory is more enticing as it comes with 8GB of ECC DDR4 which can be upgraded to 32GB using two 16GB SO-DIMMs. It also has a faster PCI-Express Gen3 expansion slot which accepts a wide range of industry standard 10GbE network adapters or Synology’s dual M.2 SATA SSD M2D17 expansion card.

Expansion potential is also superior as the DS3018xs has two rear Infiniband ports which each accept a 12-bay DX1215 disk unit. This allows it to scale to 30 bays and a maximum capacity of 360TB using the latest 12TB drives.

Migrate and install

For testing, we wanted to see how well Synology’s migration feature works so we swapped over the four Seagate 8TB NAS HDDs we’d used when testing its DS918+ appliance. The only thing we noted was the disk carriers in the DS918+ don’t fit in the DS3018xs as they use a slightly different release lever without the spring mechanism.

No a problem though, as with the drives moved into the DS3018xs carriers, we used Synology’s discovery web portal to find the appliance. Sure enough, it spotted they were from a DS918+ and offered to migrate all our settings and files across.

All we had to do was change the network name of the DS3018xs, reregister it with the Synology cloud portal and we were ready to go. Prior to testing, we also upgraded the DS3018xs to Synology’s DSM 6.2 beta and ran all our tests using this version.

New DSM 6.2 features

The DSM 6.2 beta offers improved Package Center and Storage Manager apps

The main DSM web interface stays mainly the same but there’s more going on behind the scenes. The Storage Manager app sees RAID Groups and Disk Groups amalgamated into less confusing Storage Pools while a new dashboard provides more information about hard disks, pools and volumes.

The storage theme continues with the new iSCSI Manager app which provides a dedicated dashboard with greater detail on targets, initiator connections and LUNs. We found it easier to create and manage our IP SANs and as you’ll see in our tests, they receive a welcome speed boost.

The Package Center app gets a slight facelift making it easier to browse the app store and install new ones. The Security Advisor app has been enhanced as along with malware scans, it highlights weak spots such as simple passwords while its geolocation service shows precisely where remote users have logged in from.

The DS3018xs has the power and memory to handle the new Virtual Machine Manager app

The Virtual Machine Manager app puts Synology up with Qnap as it allows the appliance to host VMs running any OS you choose. It offers a heap of virtualization features plus VM snapshots although you should consider upgrading the base 8GB of memory if you plan on running multiple VMs.

Standard DSM 6.1 features

DSM data protection services are exceptional with the Hyper Backup app managing all your local, remote, Rsync, cloud and iSCSI LUN backups from a single console. Data recovery is effortless and the app also links directly to Synology’s new C2 Backup cloud storage for easy off-site backups.

The Snapshot Replication app handles all manual and scheduled snapshots and can replicate encrypted shared folders. It also allows you to keep a spare local copy as selected shares can be replicated to other local volumes.

The Cloud Sync app supports no less than 21 public providers including Dropbox, Google Drive and OneDrive while the Cloud Station Server app handles workstation backup using locally installed synchronization agents. The Active Backup for Servers app can secure data from Windows and Linux systems without an agent and Synology now offers free Active Backup apps for G Suite and Office 365.

Synology’s Surveillance Station is easily the best of its kind on the market and the price includes two IP camera licenses. New features in v8.0 include support for the latest H.265 codec, better storage usage by only recording events in high resolution and enhanced rules that can trigger multiple actions for an event.

Superb 10GbE performance

The DSM Security Advisor makes sure your NAS appliance is safe

For 10GbE testing, we installed an Emulex dual-port fiber 10GbE adapter in the DS3018xs which was accepted without any problems. For our test host, we called up a Dell PowerEdge R640 rack server equipped with dual 2.1GHz Xeon Gold 6130 CPUs, 192GB of DDR4 memory and Windows Server 2012 R2 at the helm.

NAS performance was very good with a mapped share returning Iometer raw sequential read and write rates of 9.2Gbits/sec and 6.8Gbits/sec. Real world speeds were equally good with our 25GB file copy test returning read and write speeds of 4.9Gbits/sec and 3.1Gbits/sec while our small file backup test mustered 2.1Gbits/sec.

IP SAN performance was also impressive with Iometer reporting read and write rates of 9.1Gbits/sec and 9Gbits/sec for a 500GB target. We upped the pressure with a dual 10GbE MPIO link and saw read speeds ramp up nicely to 17.4Gbits/sec while write rates increased slightly to 9.3Gbits/sec with the appliance’s CPU utilization settling at around 80 percent.

Conclusion

Synology’s first 6-bay desktop appliance sets a high standard for performance as it delivered excellent results in our 10GbE NAS and IP SAN speed tests. A diskless DS3018xs does cost around $350 more than Synology’s 8-bay DS1817+ but it uses a more modern processor, is substantially faster, offers a superior expansion potential and has the memory capacity to handle Synology’s virtualization app.

8.4 Total Score

Synology’s first 6-bay desktop appliance sets a high standard for performance as it delivered excellent results in our 10GbE NAS and IP SAN speed tests. A diskless DS3018xs does cost around $350 more than Synology’s 8-bay DS1817+ but it uses a more modern processor, is substantially faster, offers a superior expansion potential and has the memory capacity to handle Synology’s virtualization app.

Performance
9
Features
9.5
Build Quality
8.5
Usability
8
Value
7
PROS
  • High storage potential
  • Up to 32GB of DDR4 memory
  • 10GbE or M.2 SSD upgrade option
  • Great NAS and IP SAN performance
  • DSM 6.2 delivers plenty of new features
CONS
  • Comparatively expensive
  • No embedded M.2 SSD slots
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