NAS

Synology RackStation DS3617xs Review

Synology has been busy of late updating its high-end rack mount appliances but now it’s the turn of its desktop boxes. The new DS3617xs takes the same menacing cuboid 12-bay chassis of its predecessor and gives processing power and memory performance a big boost.

Out goes the elderly Core i3-4130 CPU of the DS3615xs and in comes a quad-core 2.2GHz Xeon D-1527. Memory starts at a generous 16GB of fast DDR4 which can be expanded to 48GB by adding two 16GB modules in the spare SO-DIMM slots.

Port permutations remains the same with the rear panel sporting quad Gigabit and dual USB 3. The rear PCI-Express expansion slot accepts standard Intel and Emulex single and dual-port 10GbE adapters as well as Synology’s own cards.

Storage expansion looks good as the DS3617xs offers dual high-speed Infiniband ports allowing it to support a pair of 12-bay DX1215 desktop expansion units. With 10TB drives now certified, two of these units can push the drive count to 36 and raw storage capacity to a very usable 360TB.

ds3617xs-rear

System design

The chassis is very well constructed and uses simple tool-free plastic carriers for the drives. These have a small screw in the release lever allowing them to be locked using the supplied key.

Cooling is handled by two large and very quiet 12cms diameter fans at the rear mounted in a single removable unit. Be careful if you do remove it as the power supply pins must be matched perfectly with chassis connector when reinstating it as they can be easily bent.

For 10GbE testing, we installed an Emulex dual-port OCE11102-NT adapter without any problems. The expansion slot can be accessed by removing only the lid which is secured by two screws.

Memory upgrades are just as easy as the side panel is also retained by two screws. Behind are the two free SO-DIMM slots but the inner pair are not accessible without removing the entire motherboard.

Easy installation

Click for a closer look

Click for a closer look

We loaded up a triplet of Seagate’s 10TB IronWolf NAS drives and used the web interface’s quick start wizard to install the latest DSM software. Synology’s Hybrid RAID option isn’t supported on its large-scale business appliances so we created a big 18.2TB RAID5 fault-tolerant array.

Synology’s DSM software has an app for every occasion

Synology’s DSM software has an app for every occasion

The DSM web interface is easy to use and packed with features. NAS shares and IP SANs are simple to create and the 64-bit Xeon CPU supports Synology’s BTRFS volumes and snapshots. These are a great data protection feature as they can be configured to run regularly at scheduled intervals.

Managed from the Snapshot Replication app, we could run snapshots on shares and iSCSI LUNs as often as every five minutes. Each schedule can have their own retention policy while restoration is simply a case of choosing a snapshot and recovering or cloning it.

Further data protection is provided by the excellent Hyper Backup app which manages local, remote, Rysnc and cloud backups from one console. You can choose from eighteen different backup types, schedule them to run as required and use the handy Backup Explorer app when you need to restore data.

The appliance offers a wealth of data protection features including snapshots and cloud backup

The appliance offers a wealth of data protection features including snapshots and cloud backup

Nippy NAS performance

The appliance may not be a member of Synology’s ‘+’ performance family but it delivered some excellent NAS speeds in our 10GbE tests. For these we used a Lenovo System x3550 M5 rack server with dual 2.2GHz E5-2650 v4 Xeons, 128GB of TruDDR4 memory and an Emulex 10Gbase-T card.

With a share mapped over a 10GbE connection, Iometer recorded top raw read and write speeds of 9.2Gbits/sec and 7.3Gbits/sec. Real world speeds are equally good with drag and drop copies of a 25GB test file delivering sustained read and write rates of 3.4Gbits/sec and 3.3Gbits/sec.

It swiftly dispatched our backup test with a 22.4GB folder containing 10,500 small files secured to a share over 10GbE at 2.4Gbits/sec. These speeds are in the same ball park as Synology’s high-end RS3617xs+ which has a 6-core Xeon D-1531 CPU.

Only our encryption test returned lower speeds as copying a 25GB file to an encrypted share averaged a slightly slower 1.8Gbits/sec. We also noted CPU utilisation peaking at 22 percent whereas the same test on the RS3617xs+ generated around 12 percent.

Video vault

The Surveillance Station app offers a superb range of video recording and monitoring features

The Surveillance Station app offers a superb range of video recording and monitoring features

With its huge capacity, the DS3617xs makes a great video vault for storing and managing IP camera recordings. Synology’s Surveillance Station app makes this argument even more compelling as it’s easily the best of its kind.

It had no problems working with our Hikvision Darkfighter bullet IP camera and allowed us to edit all its settings. From the app, we could choose H.264 or MPEG feeds, create continuous or scheduled recordings for specific hours on each day and link them up with the camera’s motion detection triggers.

The app includes a handy e-map where we could upload our building layout and position our cameras for quick access. Action Rules link events such as motion and tampering with actions including recordings, snapshots and even playing audio clips on cameras equipped with a speaker.

There is one issue as the Surveillance Station Live View relies on the NPAPI plug-in which is not supported by Microsoft Edge or Chrome. This is an ongoing problem and for the foreseeable future we recommend Windows 10 users access this using IE 11 which works fine.

Conclusion

Businesses that want lots of storage but don’t have a rack cabinet will find Synology’s DS3617xs the next best thing. This big desktop NAS appliance delivers a top performance and offers plenty of room to expand along with optional 10-Gigabit upgrades.

Synology’s app-rich DSM makes it very versatile and it won’t be faulted for data protection features. The slick Surveillance Station app makes it a great choice as a video recording vault and it’s competitively priced as well.

Where to buy
Synology DS3617xs

Synology DS3615xs diskless 12-bay NAS Server, Intel Core i3-4130 Dual Core 3.4 GHz, 4 GB DDR3 ECC (Expandable, up to 32GB).

$2999.99

Review Score
8.5 Total Score
Generous 16GB of fast DDR4

Businesses that want lots of storage but don’t have a rack cabinet will find Synology’s DS3617xs the next best thing. This big desktop NAS appliance delivers a top performance and offers plenty of room to expand along with optional 10-Gigabit upgrades.

Performance
8
Features
9
Build quality
8
Usability
9
Value
8.5
PROS
  • DSM has plenty of storage features
  • Very good NAS performance
  • DDR4 memory
  • Supports 10GbE upgrades
  • Big expansion
CONS
  • Surveillance Station not supported properly by Edge or Chrome
User Rating: 3.75 (1 votes)