Synology RackStation RS818+ Review

Synology has been busy expanding its ‘Plus’ series of NAS appliances and the latest RackStation RS818+ targets growing SMEs looking for a compact 1U rack NAS with future expansion in mind. Along with quad Gigabit ports, the RS818+ has a spare PCI-Express slot that accepts a wide range of industry-standard single and dual-port 10GbE adapters.

Two USB 3 are also located at the back for connecting external storage devices for fast local data transfers. Powered by a quad-core 2.4GHz Intel Atom C2538, the appliance comes as standard with 2GB of DDR3 memory that can be upgraded to 16GB using the two SO-DIMM slots on its motherboard.

Storage can be expanded outside the box using the single eSATA port at the back which supports Synology’s RX418 1U 4-bay disk shelf. For greater redundancy, there’s also the RS818RP+ model which has dual hot-plug PSUs.

RS818+ versus RS815+

There are quite a few updates over the RS815+ but the biggest disappointment is the RS818+ still uses the same Atom C2538 which is now five years old. However, more than doubling the memory capacity from 6GB to 16GB makes the RS818+ a far better candidate for running multiple apps and particularly Synology’s Virtual Machine Manager.

Power consumption has been reduced as the 250W PSU in the RS815+ have been replaced with a smaller 150W unit. Cooling is still handled by three small fans at the rear and we measured the appliance emitting only 45dB at one meter so it’s quiet enough for an office environment.

Hardware upgrades are carried out by removing the lid to access to the memory and PCI-Express slots. On the RS815+, the motherboard tray is pulled out from the back so the appliance doesn’t have to be removed from the rack for upgrades.

Installation and virtualization

The DSM software offers a wealth of data protection and backup services

For high-performance testing, we fitted four 8TB Seagate NAS SATA hard disks and installed an Emulex dual-port 10Gbase-T card. We loaded Synology’s browser-based discovery tool which located the appliance on the lab network and downloaded the latest production DSM 6.1 software.

We configured our hard disks as a 22TB RAID5 array, but DSM also offers RAID6 and Synology Hybrid RAID (SHR). The latter is designed to simplify your RAID decisions and it offers an SHR-2 option for dual-drive redundancy.

Synology’s Virtual Machine Manager (VMM) app has recently been made available for DSM 6.1 and this puts it alongside Qnap which has provided its slick Virtualization Station app for a number of years now. VMM offers an equally impressive range of features but to use it on the RS818+ you’ll need to upgrade memory as its base 2GB is nowhere near enough to runs VMs without impacting on general performance.

Synology’s Docker app also allows you to run a wide range of apps in lightweight containers. However, Qnap goes further as its Linux Station can run Ubuntu alongside the appliance OS.

Backup and surveillance

The Security Advisor and free AV scanner help keep your appliance data safe

Data backup features are plentiful with BTRFS volumes supporting manual and scheduled NAS and IP SAN point-in-time snapshots. The RS818+ makes a great workstation backup vault where the Cloud Station Server app works with the Backup Windows client to provide one-way synchronization or the Drive agent for two-way folder synchronizations.

The Hyper Backup app looks after all your local and remote backup tasks and integrates with Synology’s C2 Backup cloud service for essential off-site storage. The Active Backup for Servers app secures Windows and Linux systems to the appliance just using network shares and Synology also offers Active Backup apps for G Suite and Office 365.

DSM offers a wealth of useful apps including ones for Active Directory, DNS, RADIUS, email and multimedia services but the jewel in its crown is the Surveillance Station. With support for 12TB SATA drives, the RS818+ has plenty of capacity for small business video recording and the latest version offers a slick HTML5-based web interface.

The app provides enhanced rules that can trigger multiple actions for an event, better storage usage by only recording events in high resolution and support for the latest H.265 codec. We found the separate Surveillance Station client has all the same features as the web based version, worked without any problems on our Windows 10 desktops and delivered very good streaming performance.

Variable 10GbE performance

Synology delivers the best NAS-based video surveillance facilities

Overall, we found the RS818+ delivered a very variable 10GbE performance. We mapped a share to a Windows Server 2016 rack system equipped with dual Xeon Gold 6130 CPUs and watched Iometer record a good sequential read rate of 7.93Gbits/sec but a much lower write rate of 3.16Gbits/sec – both in line with Synology’s claims.

Drag and drop copies of a 25GB test file returned sustained real world read and write averages of 4.65Gbits/sec and 3.13Gbits/sec. Backup performance was reasonable with a 22.4GB folder containing 10,500 small files secured to the share at an average of 1.93Gbits/sec.

Encryption performance is mediocre as copying our 25GB test file to an encrypted folder returned an average of only 1.1Gbits/sec. To put this in perspective, Qnap’s Ryzen-powered TS-877 desktop appliance (a Simply.Reviews Top 10 award winner) returned a far more impressive 2.7Gbits/sec for this test.

IP SAN performance over 10GbE was also underwhelming. With our server logged in to a 500GB iSCSI target, we saw Iometer report raw sequential read and write speeds of only 6.1Gbits/sec and 3.52Gbits/sec.

Conclusion

Costing around $869 for a diskless model, the RS818+ is an affordable 1U rack NAS appliance with plenty of room to expand and a great range of software features. It’s better value than Qnap’s TS-453BU with both delivering a similar performance over 10GbE but we think Synology could have improved its prospects further by giving the RS818+ a newer CPU.

7.5 Total Score

Costing around $869 for a diskless model, the RS818+ is an affordable 1U rack NAS appliance with plenty of room to expand and a great range of software features. It’s better value than Qnap’s TS-453BU with both delivering a similar performance over 10GbE but we think Synology could have improved its prospects further by giving the RS818+ a newer CPU.

Performance
6.5
Features
7
Build quality
8
Usability
8
Value
8
PROS
  • Good 10GbE read speeds
  • Quiet
  • Plenty of data backup and cloud features
  • Slick Surveillance Station app
  • Upgradeable to 16GB of memory
CONS
  • 5-year old Atom CPU
  • 10GbE write speeds aren’t great
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