Best value

Synology RackStation RS3617xs Review

SMBs looking for a high-capacity NAS appliance with a tempting price tag could find Synology’s RS3617xs just what they want. The latest member of Synology’s large-scale business boxes, this 2U rack mount model certainly looks good value with a diskless model checking in at an affordable $2,599.

The RS3617xs steps up as a replacement to the RS3614xs and brings a big boost to processing power. Out goes the aging dual-core i3-4130 of its predecessor and in comes a speedy quad-core 3.3GHz E3-1230 v2 Xeon.

No changes for memory as the RS3617xs starts with the same base 4GB of DDR3 which can be upgraded to a very usable 32GB. You also get quad embedded Gigabit ports and two free PCI-Express slots for upgrading to 10-Gigabit (10GbE) speeds when the time is right.

Expansion potential looks good as the appliance has a pair of 6Gbps SAS ports at the rear. These support two 12-bay RX1217 or RX1217RP disk shelves taking the maximum drive count to 36.

Synology’s DSM

Synology’s DSM provides a useful range of virtualization apps

Easy installation

Deployment was a simple process as the appliance’s web console ran through a quick start wizard which loaded the latest DSM software for us. As we had received an early shipment of Seagate’s mighty 10TB IronWolf NAS drives, we opted to test with these.

Synology hadn’t certified them at the time of testing but we had no problems loading a triplet and creating a big 18.2TB RAID5 array from them using the DSM Storage Manager app. Synology has dropped support for SHRs (Synology Hybrid Arrays) on its high-end appliances but does offer all the traditional array types including RAID6.

We found the DSM web interface very well designed and easy to use. NAS shares are simple to create from the Control Panel app where we selected a volume, entered a shared folder name, chose the level of access security and, where required, applied per–user volume quotas.

IP SANs are just as easy to create from the Storage Manager as a wizard helps create a LUN and assign a target to it. Choose file-based LUNs if you want advanced features such as thin provisioning plus support for Windows ODX data offloading and LUN snapshots.

10GbE NAS performance

We moved straight to 10GbE NAS testing and called up a Lenovo System x3550 M5 server equipped with dual 2.2GHz E5-2650 v4 Xeons, 128GB of TruDDR4 memory and an Emulex dual-port 10Gbase-T card. We fitted another Emulex 10GbE card in the RS3617xs which was accepted without any issues.

Running Iometer on a share mapped to the server saw very impressive raw read and write speeds of 9.2Gbits/sec and 7.3Gbits/sec. Drag and drop copies of a 25GB test file were markedly slower but still returned good read and write speeds of 3.6Gbits/sec and 3.4Gbits/sec.

The Xeon E3 CPU has an embedded encryption engine and to test its efficacy, we created an encrypted folder and copied our 25GB test file to it. The test averaged an impressive 2.4Gbits/sec during which we saw CPU utilisation only rise to 20 percent. The RS3617xs also makes a great backup server as our 22.4GB test folder and its 10,500 small files was copied over from the server also at 2.4Gbits/sec.

PetaSpace

The PetaSpace app creates massive shared folders from volume groups

Snapshots and PetaSpace

The RS3617xs and its 64-bit CPU support BTRFS volumes which brings Synology’s NAS share and iSCSI LUN snapshots into play. Managed from the Snapshot Replication app, these can be run manually or scheduled as often as every five minutes.

Recovery options are good as you can restore or clone an share or LUN from the selected snapshot or for the former, browse its files using the File Station app and restore them wherever you want. You can also use the Snapshot Replication app to run NAS share and iSCSI LUN replications to remote Synology appliances but only those that also support BTRFS.

The PetaSpace app allows you to create massive shared folders by combining multiple volumes into one group. We tested this by placing four 1TB volumes in a group and presenting a single 4TB share which we could also expand on the fly by adding more volumes to the group.

PetaSpace shares have a small performance penalty over standard shares with our 25GB test file copy over 10GbE averaging 3.1Gbits/sec and 2.6Gbits/sec. Note also that share snapshots are not supported for those created in a PetaSpace group.

Apps and backup

Look no further for the best choice of cloud support and backup apps

Apps in abundance

The sheer range of apps available with DSM 6.2 makes the RS3617xs supremely versatile. Workstation backup is handled by the Cloud Station Server app with the Backup workstation client providing one-way synchronization and the Cloud Station Drive app and client offering two-way Dropbox-style file syncing.

Hyper Backup brings all your appliance backup tasks under one roof and has wizards for eighteen different jobs including local, remote, Rysnc and cloud backups. And then there’s the Cloud Sync app which currently works with twenty public cloud providers.

Teaming up the RS3617xs with the Surveillance Station app provides a sophisticated IP camera video storage vault and it comes with two free licenses included. It worked fine with our D-Link camera but the Live Feed uses the old NPAPI plug-in and only currently supports Internet Explorer and Firefox.

The Antivirus Essentials app provides on-appliance scanning and can run manual or scheduled full, custom or system scans. Virtualization features aren’t a patch on those offered by Qnap but Docker runs lightweight containerized apps while the Virtual DSM Manager beta app allows multiple instances of DSM to run on the same appliance.

Conclusion

The RS3617xs is a great choice for storage hungry SMBs as it teams up good NAS performance over 10GbE with a big expansion capacity. Synology’s app-heavy DSM software makes it extremely versatile, value looks good and the icing on the cake is the generous 5-year warranty.

8.7 Total Score
High-capacity

The RS3617xs is a great choice for storage hungry SMBs as it teams up good NAS performance over 10GbE with a big expansion capacity. Synology’s app-heavy DSM software makes it extremely versatile, value looks good and the icing on the cake is the generous 5-year warranty.

Performance
8
Features
9
Build quality
9
Usability
8.5
Value
9
PROS
  • Very good value
  • App laden DSM software
  • Good 10GbE NAS performance
  • Top notch cloud and backup features
  • High expansion potential
CONS
  • PetaSpace folders dont support snapshots
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