Top 10

Synology DiskStation DS1515+ and DS1815+ Review

synology-new-topSynology’s five and eight bay desktop NAS appliances have been class acts for many years but their elderly Intel Atom D2700 CPUs are starting to show their age. This little 2.13GHz dual-core chip is a reasonable performer and does keep costs down but the fact that Intel discontinued it two years ago means it’s time for a change.

The new DS1515+ and DS1815+ appliances do just that as they both sport a more advanced quad-core C2538 Atom. Processing power steps up to 2.4GHz and at the heart of these Atoms lurks an AES-NI hardware encryption engine that’s designed to provide a big speed boost for encrypted shares.

Base memory starts at 2GB and this can now be increased to 6GB – an extra 2GB over the older DS1513+ and DS1813+ models. The metal lids are easy enough to remove and you can upgrade to the max by adding a 4GB SO-DIMM module in the spare slot on the side of the motherboard.

Hardware changes

From the front, both appliances look identical to their older stable-mates with a sturdy metal chassis and a row of status LEDs for power and network along the top panel. The same plastic disk carriers are employed and these have small Allen-key style locks to stop them being accidentally popped out.

Four Gigabit ports are still provided but the USB 2 ports from the older models have been replaced with a quartet of faster USB 3 ports. No expansion slots are available so neither can be upgraded to 10GbE.

synology-new-rear

The eSATA ports on each side near the outer edges are primarily for expansion and you have two choices. Both the DS1513+ and DS1813+ support the 2-bay DX213 and 5-bay DX513 expansion units and you can expand storage volumes on the main appliances into them on the fly.

DSM 5.1

As both appliances have identical hardware specs, we tested using the DS1815+. Loading a triplet of 4TB WD Enterprise SATA hard disks was speeded up with the tool-less drive carriers and we created a single RAID5 array from them.

Synology DSM 5.1

The new DSM 5.1 offers plenty of help in accessing its huge range of storage features

Synology’s DSM 5.1 software had just been released to the world as we began testing so we upgraded the DS1815+ to this latest version. The main interface hasn’t changed but it doesn’t need to as it’s already very user friendly with easy access to the myriad features.

Synology Security Advisor

The new Security Advisor scans the appliance and advises on any weaknesses if finds

Synology clearly has a sharp focus on security with a Security Advisor scanning the appliance and highlighting any leaks. After running a malware scan, it told us that two of our accounts had weak passwords, pointed out that some packages needed updating and suggested some changes to our network settings.

The new AppArmor feature runs at the kernel level and uses security profiles to determine what system resources an app is allowed to use. You can now assign services to specific network ports using firewall rules, enforce IP-based access rules, use local or domain authentication to decide what apps a user may access and apply 2-step authentication using third-party services such as Google Authenticator.

Cloud features

Synology’s Cloud backup tools just keep getting better as along with support for Amazon S3, you can now back up to Microsoft Azure. A separate app is provided for Amazon Glacier and we had no problems running test backups to our Amazon Web Services account.

The Cloud Sync app is even more versatile as along with support for Google Drive, Dropbox and Baidu Cloud, Synology now has options for syncing with OneDrive, box and hubiC. The Cloud Station can also now synchronize folders between two Synology appliances

Both the DS1515+ and DS1815+ can run Synology’s Central Management System (CMS) app and we used it to remotely monitor the lab’s DS1813+. It’s easy to configure as we paired it with the DS1815+ just by entering its QuickConnect ID.

Synology scores over Qnap for IP SAN features as it still supports file-based iSCSI targets so LUN backup and snapshots are on the menu. LUN backup speeds have been improved and you get a snapshot scheduler for running them at regular intervals.

Accelerated encryption and more

To test encryption speeds we called up a dual Xeon E5-2683 v3 rack server with 64GB of DDR4 and running Windows Server 2012 R2. We mapped an unencrypted share to the server where a copy of a 50GB test file to the DS1815+ returned a sustained write speed of 112MB/sec.

We then mapped an encrypted share and saw the same test copy average 82MB/sec. This is actually a big performance improvement as running the same test to an encrypted share on our DS1813+ took nearly 40 minutes and only mustered an average 22MB/sec write speed.

Synology makes some bold claims about improved performance for general file sharing operations with it quoting maximum 450MB/sec read and 420MB/sec write rates. Easy enough to test as we added three more Xeon E5-2600 v2 servers to the mix with each receiving a mapped share over a dedicated network port on the appliance.

synology DS1815+

Synology delivers on its performance promises with our four server test maxing the CPU out on the DS1815+

Iometer recorded 113MB/sec and 112MB/sec raw read and write speeds for one server and we could see from the DSM performance monitor that this was taking around 25 percent of the appliance’s CPU resources. Simultaneously running Iometer on all four servers returned cumulative read and write rates of 452MB/sec and 430MB/sec with the appliance maxed out to 97 percent CPU utilisation.

PROS:
  • Big performance improvements
  • Excellent value
  • Good expansion
  • Superb cloud features
  • Enhanced system security

CONS:
  • No 10GbE upgrade options

Conclusion

The new DS1515+ and DS1815+ benefit hugely from the new Atom CPU as performance for general file sharing operations and encrypted folders is much faster than their predecessors. Both appliances are superb value and the new DSM 5.1 delivers even more features making them excellent choices as central storage solutions for small businesses.

9.3 Total Score
Superb Value

The new DS1515+ and DS1815+ benefit hugely from the new Atom CPU as performance for general file sharing operations and encrypted folders is much faster than their predecessors. Both appliances are superb value and the new DSM 5.1 delivers even more features making them excellent choices as central storage solutions for small businesses.

Performance
9.5
Features
9.5
Build Quality
9.5
Usability
9
Value
9
User Rating: Be the first one!