Synology takes its highly popular DS716+ II and DS916+ desktop NAS appliances, skips a seventh generation and delivers major upgrades all round. We review the new DS718+ and DS918+ models and put them through their paces in the lab to help you make the right buying decision.
The older sixth generation models have slightly different processors with the DS716+ II sporting a quad-core Intel Celeron N3160 while the DS916+ has an N3710 model. They have the same cores and speeds and the only differences are the N3710 has a faster embedded GPU plus a slightly higher burst speed.
Synology ends this confusion by standardizing on the CPU with both new models using a quad-core 1.5GHz Intel Celeron J3455. The DS718+ comes with 2GB of DDR3L memory upgradeable to 6GB.
The DS918+ starts at 4GB and can be expanded to 8GB which is the maximum supported by the J3455 CPU. You don’t need to remove the lid either as Synology has cunningly concealed the SO-DIMM slots inside where they can be easily accessed by removing the drive carriers.
NVMe support and installation
Port-wise, both appliances have nearly the same count with dual Gigabit and a single eSATA port at the rear. The DS718+ has three USB 3 ports while the DS918+ has two and in both cases, their eSATA port can be used to expand capacity into a single 5-bay DX517 expansion unit (neither support the older DX513 model).
One major difference with the DS918+ is the pair of M.2 NVMe SSD slots lurking underneath its chassis behind removable hatches. These are only really worth considering if you’re running very demanding apps and the slots don’t support cheaper M.2 SATA SSDs.
For testing, we loaded up a pair of Seagate 10TB IronWolf NAS drives in the DS718+ and a quartet of 8TB Seagate NAS HDD drives in the DS918+. Both use the same tool-free carriers and we had no problems fitting our hard disks.
Installation is a breeze as Synology’s discovery web portal found both appliances and offered to install the latest DSM software on them. For the DS718+, it created a mirrored SHR (Synology Hybrid RAID) array while on the DS918+ it presented us with a four-drive SHR array.
To test NAS performance, we used HPE ProLiant DL380 Gen9 rack servers running Windows Server 2012 R2 with shares mapped from both appliances. No surprises in the speed stakes as Iometer reported fast raw sequential read and write rates over Gigabit of 113MB/sec and 112MB/sec for both appliances.
Real world speeds were nearly identical too, with our 25GB test file copies returning average read and write speeds of 113MB/sec and 112MB/sec. Our backup test posed few problems as we secured our 22.4GB test folder and its 10,500 small files to both appliances at averages of 84MB/sec.
The J3455 has an integral AES-NI encryption engine which also delivers impressive results. Copying our 25GB file to an encrypted share averaged a speedy 112MB/sec with CPU utilization never going above 50 per cent.
We upped the pressure by mapping another share to a second server over a dedicated Gigabit link. With Iometer running on both servers, we recorded cumulative read rates of 224MB/sec while for write rates, the DS918+ mustered 197MB/sec with the DS718+ trailing slightly behind at 191MB/sec.
Super backup features
The J3455 CPU is the 64-bit variety so there’s nothing on the DSM menu these appliances can’t run. Data backup tools are in abundance with BTRFS volumes supporting NAS and IP SAN snapshots which can be run manually and scheduled at regular intervals using the Snapshot Replication app.
Workstation backup is handled by the Cloud Station Server app with the Backup Windows workstation client providing one-way synchronization. Using the Cloud Station Drive agent on workstations allows two-way synchronizations to be performed.
For those that don’t want to install an agent there’s the Active Backup for Servers app which can secure Windows and Linux systems just using network shares. Synology has also released new Active Backup apps for G Suite and Office 365.
The Hyper Backup app looks after all your backup tasks and now integrates with Synology’s new C2 Backup cloud service. Perfect for essential off-site backups and ransomware protection, we had no problems running Hyper Backup jobs that secured selected folders on the appliances to cloud storage.
Linked up with our Synology account, the C2 Backup web browser portal provided direct access to our data. We could select backup jobs, browse their contents, view all versions and download selected files from our cloud repository.
DSM 6.2 beta
During our review we upgraded the DS918+ to Synology’s DSM 6.2 beta to see what’s in store. Storage options are streamlined as the confusing Disk Groups and RAID Groups are replaced with Storage Pools.
A standout app is the Virtual Machine Manager which allows the appliances to host VMs running your choice of OS. It’s a great feature but we recommend upgrading memory as even with 4GB onboard, the app would only allow us to create VMs with a maximum of 1GB of virtual memory assigned.
IP SANs get a much needed boost with the slick new iSCSI Manager app. Target management is now much easier, performance has been improved and the new advanced LUN option delivers faster snapshot and recovery processes.
Both the DS918+ and DS718+ are excellent value and deliver great performance across the board. Synology’s DSM software offers an unbeatable range of features with even more on the way making both appliances great choices for home and SMB use – all you have to do is pick the one that meets your budget and capacity requirements.
- Great value
- Top performance
- Superb data protection features
- Easy memory upgrades
- Dual M.2 NVMe SSD slots on DS918+
- VM Manager app will need memory upgrade