Synology DiskStation DS715

DS715 Front

Aimed at home users and small workgroups, Synology’s new 2-bay DS715 is a step up from the DS713+ as it replaces the former’s aging Atom dual-core D2700 CPU with a quad-core 1.4GHz Alpine CPU from Annapurna Labs. Memory gets a boost as well as the DS715 comes with a more generous 2GB of DDR3 although this can’t be upgraded further.

Externally, there aren’t many changes as although the front USB port and Backup button have been removed, you still get two USB 3 ports at the rear. Dual Gigabit ports are also present as is the eSATA expansion port alongside.

The ‘7’ in the model name indicates the DS715 can be expanded with a DX513 eSATA desktop unit to seven drives. Costing around $500, this would bring your total spend to nearly $1,000 before factoring in any drives.

If you think two drive bays won’t be enough for your future needs, you may be better off going for a larger appliance such as the 5-bay DS1515+ which costs $769. Another option is Synology’s 2-bay DX213 expansion box although even this will set you back a further $166.
DS715 Rear

Build quality and installation

The DS715 and its matte black metal chassis shows off the classy built quality we’ve come to expect from Synology. It uses a single cooling fan at the rear and we found it to be extremely quiet during testing making the DS715 a good choice for home and small office use.

The two drive bays use Synology’s tool-less carriers making drive installation a simple affair. We quickly snapped in a pair of 4TB WD Red NAS drives and could lock the carrier levers using the supplied Allen key tool.

Installation is just as easy as Synology’s discovery web portal found the DS715 on our network, loaded the latest DSM software from its support site and had it ready for action in under 30 minutes. The DSM web interface is superbly designed making Synology’s appliances some of the easiest to use.

Using the Storage Manager app, we created a Synology Hybrid RAID (SHR) array with both drives. For our pair of 4TB drives, this is effectively a mirror but one advantage of SHR is you can create arrays with different sized drives without any hits on capacity.

DS715 is busting with features

The DS715 may be small but it’s bursting with features

Average performance

The DS715 is one of Synology’s Value series of appliances so performance won’t be as good as the ‘+’ models that have the updated Atom CPU. That said, it still put in a fair showing in our speed tests.

Large file transfers weren’t a problem as drag and drop copies of a 50GB test file to a mapped share over Gigabit returned sustained read and write speeds of 112MB/sec and 110MB/sec. General backup operations will be good as well, with copies of our 22.4GB folder and its 10,500 small files to the same mapped share averaging 80MB/sec write speeds.

Encryption performance is less impressive as although the Alpine CPU has an embedded AES-NI encryption engine, it struggled to deliver any decent speeds. Copying our 50GB test file to an encrypted share returned a meager average of 44MB/sec – the DS1815+ and its Atom C2538 CPU was nearly twice as fast for the this test.

Mobiles and multimedia

Synology Audio Station on the DS715

Synology’s Audio Station, Video Station and iOS apps provide useful multimedia services

If, like us, you’re somewhat peeved about Apple dropping Home Sharing support for music in the iOS 8.4 Music app, you’ll be pleased to know Synology has a handy alternative. We store all our iTunes music on a Synology NAS and installing the Audio Station allowed us to access it all from our iPad’s DS audio app.

It’s not as easy to use or feature rich as the Music app from iOS 8.3 but it gave us full access to our shared iTunes library. We could browse artists, albums, composers and genres, play all our tunes from the iPad and access a heap of radio stations using the SHOUTcast streaming feature.

The DS video iOS app also allowed us to play movies on our iPad but if you’re a Plex Media Server fan then we recommend avoiding the DS715 as its Alpine CPU isn’t currently supported for transcoding. If you want this feature then go for an Intel-based Synology appliance such as the DS1515+ as its Atom C2538 CPU is supported for transcoding.

Cloudy backup features

Cloud Station on the DS715

The Cloud Station Client is really useful for syncing folders between local and remote Synology appliances

The DS715 makes a great backup repository for workstation data using Synology’s Cloud Station app as it allows users to synchronise selected local folders over the Internet to the appliance in real-time. It’s really easy to set up as we installed the Cloud Station client on a Windows desktop, linked it to the DS715 using its QuickConnect ID and chose the folders we wanted synchronised.

Synology’s Cloud Sync app supports all popular cloud file syncing services such as Dropbox, OneDrive and Google Drive. You can also back up data at scheduled intervals to Amazon’s S3 and Glacier plus Microsoft Azure hosted cloud providers.

If you’re using the DS715 in a remote or home office, you can sync data between selected folders with a central Synology appliance using the Cloud Station client. We tested this with a DS1813+ appliance and set it to sync with a folder on the DS715 using its QuickConnect ID after which all new files or changes on either side were replicated across both appliances in real-time.

PROS:
  • Well built
  • Plenty of DSM features
  • Good cloud backup and syncing tools
  • Very quiet

CONS:
  • Poor performance for encrypted folders
  • Storage expansion units expensive

Summary

The DS715 isn’t much of a performance upgrade from the DS713+ as its Alpine CPU has some limitations which are most noticeable when handling encrypted folders. It’s not as good value as QNAP’s Celeron equipped TS-253 Pro either, but Synology’s DSM software delivers a fantastic range of features which includes classy cloud backup features.

8 Total Score
Not Stellar Performance

The DS715 isn’t much of a performance upgrade from the DS713+ as its Alpine CPU has some limitations which are most noticeable when handling encrypted folders. It’s not as good value as QNAP’s Celeron equipped TS-253 Pro either, but Synology’s DSM software delivers a fantastic range of features which includes classy cloud backup features.

Performance
7
Features
8.5
Build Quality
9
Usability
8.5
Value
7
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