Synology RackStation RS1221+ Review

Synology set a new standard when it launched the RS1219+ a couple of years ago as this was the first short-depth 8-bay rack NAS appliance on the market. Stepping up at a timely replacement, the RS1221+ goes one step further as it offers the same compact, high-density storage solution but is Synology’s first rack NAS to employ an AMD Ryzen CPU.

It’s a welcome move as the RS1219+ was fitted with an ancient Intel Atom C2538 CPU which was already five years old when this appliance was launched. Combining this with a meagre 2GB of slow DDR3 memory resulted in some uninspiring performance results when we reviewed it. 

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The RS1221+ is powered by a modern quad-core 2.2GHz Ryzen V1500B CPU with base systems coming with a more generous 4GB of faster DDR4 memory expandable to 32GB – twice that of the RS1219+. A number of features remain the same as the RS1221+ also has four embedded Gigabit network ports and a spare PCI-e 3 expansion slot for 10GbE upgrades or Synology’s dual-slot M.2 SATA SSD adapter card.

Along with dual USB 3.2 ports, the RS1221+ offers a single eSATA port which can be used to expand capacity outside the box with Synology’s equally short 4-bay RX418 disk shelf. The RS1221+ is also available as an RP+ model which includes a pair of 350W hot-plug PSUs

RS1221+ Build quality and design

Measuring a mere 12in. deep, the RS1221+ can be fitted in a small wall box, a standard 2-post rack cabinet or even placed on a desk. Under the lid you’ll find a tidy interior with the small motherboard mounted on top of the drive cage and an internal 250W power supply located underneath.

The power supply is mounted sideways behind the drive cage and its recessed plug socket requires a cable with an L-shaped C13 connector. Usefully, the appliance kit includes a C13-C14 power cable with a right-angled connector and a standard C13 kettle lead as well.

The dual SO-DIMM memory slots are easily accessed for upgrades but the motherboard doesn’t offer any embedded M.2 SSD slots. Cooling is handled by 8cms diameter fan modules on each side of the chassis and we found the appliance to be pleasingly quiet. 

If you choose the RP+ model bear in mind its chassis is nearly 4in. deeper and the extra weight of the dual PSUs at the rear requires it to be fitted in a 4-post rack cabinet. For office deployment, you’ll also need a sound-proofed cabinet as the dual PSU fans are incredibly noisy with them emitting an annoying 58.7dB at 3 feet in front of the appliance.

RS1221+ Compatibility and performance

For performance testing, we fitted a quartet of 14TB WD Red NAS Plus hard disks and used Synology’s Finder app to discover the appliance and install the latest DSM 6.2 software. On completion, we used the Storage Manager app to configure the drives as an SHR (Synology Hybrid RAID) array. 

The RS1221+ can use SFF SSDs for caching and it delivers an impressive IP SAN performance

For upgrades using the PCI-e slot, we strongly recommend checking the network adapter compatibility list as Synology is now focusing more on its own 10GbE cards and has removed support for a lot of third-party vendors. The RS1221+ refused to boot when we fitted an Emulex dual-port 10GbE card and would only work with an Intel X520 model.

With the appliance connected over 10GbE to a Dell T640 Xeon Scalable server running Windows Server 2019, we recorded good results that were significantly faster than the RS1219+. For NAS shares, Iometer reported sequential read and write speeds of 9.3Gbits/sec and 6.2Gbits/sec – the RS1219+ returned 7.9Gbits/sec and 3.2Gbits/sec.

We saw significant improvements in our real world tests with copies of a large 25GB file returning much faster read and write speeds of 5.1Gbits/sec and 4.9Gbits/sec. Copying the file to an encrypted folder saw a doubling in performance to 2.7Gbits/sec while our backup test was also 17% faster.

IP SANs also saw big improvements with a 500GB iSCSI target returning Iometer sequential read and write speeds of 9.2Gbits/sec and 6.7Gbits/sec which increased to 17.7Gbits/sec and 7Gbits/sec over a dual 10GbE MPIO link. The RS1219+ was measured at only 4.8Gbits/sec and 4.1Gbits/sec for a single 10GbE link while an MPIO connection proved too much for its Atom CPU and actually dropped read and write speeds to 4.2Gbits/sec and 4Gbits/sec.

DSM features

The Storage Analyzer keeps you updated on capacity usage while the Security Advisor makes sure your data is safe

With its high capacity, the RS1221+ makes a great backup vault and Synology’s DSM software is packed with plenty of data protection features and apps. The Snapshot Replication app handles manual and scheduled snapshots of NAS shares and iSCSI LUNs on BTRFS volumes which can also be replicated to remote Synology appliances.

Hyper Backup looks after all local, remote, Rsync, cloud and iSCSI LUN backups from a single console while the Drive app allows you to create your own private backup cloud with Dropbox-like synchronization services for collaboration and file sharing. Synology gets top marks for its free Active Backup Suite which provides a complete on-appliance solution for protecting Windows servers and workstations along with Hyper-V, VMware vCentre and ESXi hypervisors.

Synology’s DSM software is packed with features including the versatile Virtual Machine Manager

A DSM app that adds extra versatility is Synology’s Surveillance Station which offers a superb range of video monitoring features, supports over 8,000 IP camera models and provides an excellent range of video management and recording tools. The Security Advisor app keeps your data safe by scanning the appliance for security weaknesses while the Storage Analyzer app provides regular updates on storage usage by running scheduled reports to show NAS share utilisation, duplicate files and file types.


The RS1221+ is virtually unchallenged as no other vendor offers 8 drive bays in such a small rackmount form factor. Costing $1,325 for a diskless unit, it’s very good value, Synology’s DSM feature-heavy software makes it very versatile and it’s a lot faster than the RS1219+ it’s replacing.

Synology RackStation RS1221+
Diskless 8 bay NAS, AMD Ryzen™ V1500B quad-core 2.2 GHz CPU, 4 GB ECC DDR4 Up to 32 GB. Boasting over 100K 4K random read IOPS and 2,315 MB/s sequential read.
Synology RackStation RS1221+ Review

8.8Expert Score
Very Good Value

The RS1221+ is virtually unchallenged as no other vendor offers 8 drive bays in such a small rack mount form factor. Costing $1,325 for a diskless unit, it’s very good value, Synology’s DSM feature-heavy software makes it very versatile and it’s a lot faster than the RS1219+ it’s replacing.

Build quality
  • Good value
  • AMD Ryzen CPU
  • Low profile chassis
  • High storage capacity
  • Much faster than the RS1219+
  • Feature-rich DSM software
  • Reduced 10GbE adapter compatibility
  • Dual PSU RP+ model is very noisy

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