Best Value

Synology DiskStation DS1515

DS1515The demand for NAS appliances equipped with Annapurna Labs CPUs shows no signs of slowing down with Synology now launching its latest DS1515. With a nifty quad-core 1.4GHz Alpine AL-314 chip in the driving seat, the DS1515 is member of Synology’s new Value line and is designed to offer a cheaper alternative to Synology’s Atom-based DS1515+.

With a diskless model costing around $128 less, this compact 5-bay box hits the spot for value but this doesn’t come at the cost of performance with Synology quoting some impressive read and write speeds. There are few compromises in the hardware department as the DS1515 comes with a decent 2GB of DDR3 RAM although this can’t be upgraded.

DS1515The DS1515 has four Gigabit at the rear along with two USB 3 ports for external storage devices. Expansion is impressive as the appliance’s dual eSATA ports can be used to attach two of Synology’s DX513 5-bay expansion units.

Build and installation

You’ll be hard pushed to spot any physical variations with the DS1515+ as their chassis are virtually identical. The only significant differences are the DS1515+ has four USB 3 ports at the back and its 2GB of DDR3 can be boosted to 6GB.

The DS1515 is in ideal partner for SOHOs as its pair of cooling fans are extremely quiet. During most of our testing we had the unit on the desk next to us and could only hear a gentle humming from the fans.

Small businesses will also like its simple installation as Synology’s discovery web portal found the appliance on our network, loaded the DSM software and had it ready to go in less than 30 minutes. For testing, we loaded up a quartet of 4TB WD Red SATA drives and created a single SHR (Synology Hybrid RAID) storage pool from them all.

Synology SHR Arrays

Synology’s SHR arrays can be now configured for single- and dual-drive redundancy

The DS1515 supports all classic RAID arrays but SHR is more flexible as it allows drives of different sizes to be mixed together without taking a hit on capacity. Usefully, when creating the SHR array we could choose between single-drive and dual-drive redundancy as well.

Surprising performance

The Alpine CPU may be slower than the Atom C2538 in the DS1515+ but it’s no lightweight in the performance stakes. Running drag and drop copies of a 50GB test file using a share mapped to a Windows Server 2012 R2 system returned sustained read and write speeds of 112MB/sec.

It’s no slouch for backup either with our 22.4GB test folder and its 10,500 small files copied down at a rate of 83MB/sec. Synology’s big 12-bay DS2415+ and its C2538 Atom mustered a slightly higher 87MB/sec for this test.

To test maximum performance we hooked up three more Xeon E5-2600 servers each with a dedicated Gigabit link and network share. With Iometer running on all four servers, we recorded cumulative raw read and write speeds of 432MB/sec and 366MB/sec with the Alpine CPU maxed out at 99% utilization.

The CPU has an integral AES-NI encryption engine and another thing we like about DSM is we could create encrypted shares – QNAP only allows you to create entire encrypted volumes. Performance isn’t as good as the Atom based appliances with our 50GB file copy returning 63MB/sec write speeds.

Backup features galore

Synology’s DSM software offers a wealth of backup features making the the DS1515 very versatile. Small offices looking for a simple workstation backup solution will like the Cloud Station app as it allows them to synchronise selected local folders to the appliance in real-time.

It’s easy to use as we installed the utility on a Windows 8.1 workstation, gave it our appliance’s QuickConnect ID and chose the local folders we wanted backed up. From this point on any files updated or added were instantly synced with the appliance.

The Cloud Station can sync folders with other Synology appliances and support for cloud storage providers includes Amazon’s S3 and Glacier plus Microsoft Azure. We use iDrive for cloud backup and also point it at a share on a Synology NAS appliance so we have a local copy of all our data for fast retrieval.

The Cloud Sync app supports popular file syncing services such as Dropbox, OneDrive and Google Drive making it easy to use the DS1515 as a file sharing repository. It’s also one the easiest to set up as well with the DS1515 linked to our Dropbox account in a couple of minutes.

DSM versatility

Synology DS1515 offers good performance

The DS1515 delivered a good performance under maximum load from four servers

Synology’s DSM software offers a lot more features and the DS1515 can happily run most of them. Multimedia apps are in abundance with options to stream music to iTunes clients or a Logitech SqueezeBox while the Media Server supports streaming music and videos to DLNA UPnP home devices.

Synology DS Note on the DS1515

Synology provides plenty of iOS apps including the handy DS Note

We also have most of Synology’s iOS mobile apps loaded on our iPad 4. DS Finder locates and displays all our Synology NAS boxes on the network with status information about disks and network usage along with facilities to enable or disable specific services.

Synology provides plenty of iOS apps including the handy DS Note

We can show off our stored photos on the iPad using the DS Photo app slideshow feature and link up with the Notes Station app, takes notes on the move and synchronize them with the appliance. Synology’s Surveillance Station provide some the best IP camera monitoring facilities in town and the DS Cam app also allows us to remotely access its video feeds from our iPad.

PROS:
  • Top overall performance
  • Very good value
  • High expansion potential
  • Masses of backup features

CONS:
  • Alpine CPU hits encryption performance

Summary

The DS1515 can’t equal performance of the DS1515+ but if this isn’t a high priority, then save some cash and go for this cheaper model. You can’t upgrade its memory, but the DS1515 is just as well built, has the same high expansion potential and delivers an impressive range of storage features.

8.7 Total Score
Well Built With High Expansion Potential

The DS1515 can’t equal performance of the DS1515+ but if this isn’t a high priority, then save some cash and go for this cheaper model. You can’t upgrade its memory, but the DS1515 is just as well built, has the same high expansion potential and delivers an impressive range of storage features.

Performance
7
Features
8.5
Build Quality
9.5
Usability
9
Value
9.5
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