Best Performance

Synology RackStation RS3617xs+ Review

Synology likes to keep us on our toes here at Simply.Reviews as its NAS naming convention is getting complicated. On review we have the new top-of-the range RS3617xs+ which may look remarkably similar to the RS3617xs but the ‘+’ in the model name indicates it’s the high-performance version.

The RS3617xs+ is the most powerful Synology model to date as this 2U rack NAS has a 6-core 2.2GHz Intel D-1531 Xeon. Just to confuse things even further, Synology has also launched the

Click for a closer look

Click for a closer look

RS3617RPxs which has a 4-core 2.4GHz D-1521 Xeon (the single PSU RS3617xs has an older E3-1230 v2 Xeon).

The RS3617xs+ comes with 8GB of fast DDR4 memory which can be upgraded to 64GB. This is simple to achieve as the lid is easily removed but it will require the existing 8GB SO-DIMM module to be replaced.

Another bonus is the RS3617xs+ has quad Gigabit ports and is 10-Gigabit (10GbE) ready out of the box. This is Synology’s first appliance to come with dual embedded 10GBase-T copper ports and if that’s not enough, it also has two spare PCI-Express expansion slots to add even more.

System design and noise

The appliance has 12 hot-swap drive bays supporting SATA HDDs and SSDs and capacity can boosted externally via the pair of high-performance expansion ports at the rear. Using the 12-bay RX1217 or RX1217RP disk shelves means capacity using 10TB drives can be pushed to an impressive 360TB.

Four hot-plug fan modules provide system cooling and a plastic shroud is used to push air directly through the CPU heatsink. A small hatch in the lid means they can be accessed without powering the system down but during testing, we found they were incredibly noisy.

Synology’s DSM software defaults to a ‘quiet’ mode but the SPLnFFT iOS app on our iPad recorded an unpleasant 60dB at one metre in front of the appliance. Selecting the ‘cool’ mode increased noise levels to 66.5dB while ‘full-speed’ mode set them screaming at 74dB.

Deployment and snapshots

Seagate IronWolf drives

For performance testing we created a RAID5 array from our three 10TB Seagate IronWolf drives

For testing, we fitted a triplet of Seagate’s latest 10TB IronWolf NAS drives and used the web interface’s quick start wizard to install the latest DSM 6.2 software.  The SHR (Synology Hybrid Array) feature isn’t supported on all the top-end rack appliances so we created a big 18.2TB RAID5 array from our drives.

Even a quick glance at the DSM web interface shows how well featured and intuitive it is. NAS shares are easy to create from the Control Panel app and support good access security plus per user quotas. IP SANs are equally pain-free to use and thin provisioning is available on file-level iSCSI targets.

BTRFS snapshots

Great data protection with Synology’s free anti-virus scanner and BTRFS snapshots

When creating volumes make sure you select the BTRFS option as this brings share and IP SAN snapshots into play. These are a great data protection feature as they can be configured to run regularly at scheduled intervals.

They’re managed from the Snapshot Replication app which provides a detailed overview of all snapshot activity. They can run as often as every five minutes and have individual snapshot retention policies while restoration is a simple point and click process.

NAS performance

For 10GbE NAS speed testing, 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 via one of the appliance’s 10GbE ports, we saw Iometer report excellent raw read and write speeds of 9.2Gbits/sec and 7.3Gbits/sec.

We upped the pressure by adding a second E5-2600 v4 server and mapping a dedicated share to it over the appliance’s second 10GbE port. With Iometer running on both servers, we can report impressive cumulative read and write speeds of 18.4Gbits/sec and 10.7Gbits/sec.

Real world speeds are reasonable with drag and drop copies of a 25GB test file returning sustained read and write rates of 3.8Gbits/sec and 3.5Gbits/sec. Our backup test was also handled well as a 22.4GB folder with 10,500 small files was secured to a share at 2.5Gbits/sec.

To test encryption performance we copied our 25GB test file to an encrypted share over 10GbE which averaged 2.4Gbits/sec. This is the same speed delivered by an RS3617xs appliance but a notable difference is this generated CPU utilisation of 20 percent whereas the D-1531 Xeon in the RS3617xs+ was only pushed to 12 percent.

Synology’s Cloud Station Server

Synology’s Cloud Station Server provides excellent workstation backup facilities

DSM features galore

Synology’s DSM software is well endowed in the feature department with some of the best cloud support on the market. The Cloud Sync app works with twenty public providers while the Cloud Station Server app lets you create a private backup cloud for workstations running Synology’s Windows, Mac or Linux clients.

The Hyper Backup app manages all your local, remote, Rysnc and cloud backups from one console and teams up with the Backup Explorer app for swift data restoration. Load the Hyper Backup Vault app on remote appliances being used as backup or synchronisation targets, and you can view and restore data directly.

Mail hosting is possible with the new MailPlus Server app which includes anti-spam and anti-virus protection along with web clients plus iOS and Android apps. Antivirus Essentials provides free on-appliance scanning but, contrary to Synology’s web site specifications, the RS3617xs+ does not currently support the PetaSpace app which creates massive shared folders by combining multiple volumes into one group.

Conclusion

Our main compliant with the RS3617xs+ is its excessive noise levels relegate it to the server room. That aside, it delivers very good NAS performance and its D-1531 Xeon CPU looks capable of handling heavy workloads.

For a 12-bay dual-10GbE enabled rack NAS, the price is competitive. The RS3617xs+ has even more room for capacity and network expansion and the feature list for Synology’s DSM software just keeps getting better.

8.1 Total Score
Most Powerful

Our main compliant with the RS3617xs+ is its excessive noise levels relegate it to the server room. That aside, it delivers very good NAS performance and its D-1531 Xeon CPU looks capable of handling heavy workloads. For a 12-bay dual-10GbE enabled rack NAS, the price is competitive. The RS3617xs+ has even more room for capacity and network expansion and the feature list for Synology’s DSM software just keeps getting better.

Performance
8.5
Features
8.5
Build quality
7
Usability
9
Value
7.5
PROS
  • Dual 10GbE copper ports
  • DDR4 memory
  • Good 10GbE NAS performance
  • Redundant PSUs
  • Feature-inch DSM software
CONS
  • Excessively noisy cooling fans
  • PetaSpace app not supported
User Rating: 4.85 (1 votes)