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Synology RackStation RS815+ Review

Synology RS815+ NAS

Intel’s little D2700 Atom CPU has been a popular choice for powering entry-level NAS appliances but as businesses demand ever more from network storage, its performance shortcomings are becoming all too apparent. With its latest RackStation RS815+, Synology has seen the light and replaced the dual-core 2.13GHz Atom in the RS814+ with a quad-core Atom C2538.

As our performance tests show, this 2.4GHz SoC (system on chip) is vastly superior to the D2700. The RS815+ will also appeal to businesses that want the extra security of encrypted volumes as the Atom has an integral AES-NI hardware encryption engine.

The RS815+ offers a bit more in the hardware department as although it has the same base 2GB of DDR3 memory as the RS814+, this can now be upgraded to 6GB. It’s easily done by pulling out the removable motherboard and popping in a 4GB module in the spare SO-DIMM slot on its upper surface.

The Gigabit port count remains the same at four and the rear eSATA port can also be used to expand capacity into an optional 4-bay RX415 1U disk shelf. For greater redundancy, there’s also the RS815RP+ model which has dual hot-plug 250W PSUs.

Synology RS815+ Rackstation

A speedy performer

For performance testing we called up the lab’s HP ProLiant DL380 Gen9 rack server equipped with dual 14-core E5-2695 v3 Xeons, 64GB of DDR4 memory and Windows Server 2012 R2. On the RS815+, we loaded a triplet of 4TB WD Red hard disks and created a RAID-5 array. With a share mapped to the HP server, we saw Iometer report steady raw read and write rates of 113MB/sec and 110MB/sec.

To test Synology’s maximum speed claims we fired up three more E5-2600 v2 servers and gave each one a mapped share over a dedicated Gigabit connection to the appliance, With Iometer running on all four servers, we saw each one deliver a steady 112MB/sec read rate for a cumulative 448MB/sec – actually 59MB/sec faster than Synology’s best figures.

During the test we watched the appliance’s CPU usage from the DSM resource monitor and saw a single server draw around 25%. With Iometer hammering away on all four servers, CPU utilisation rose to 97%.

Encryption performance is nothing to sniff at either with copies of our 50GB Iometer test file to an encrypted share returning sustained write speeds of 80MB/sec. To highlight the benefits of the AES-NI engine, we ran the same copy to an encrypted volume on an Atom D2700 equipped DS1813+ which only mustered 22MB/sec

Workstation backup

Synology’s Cloud Station provide simple and effective workstation backup and restore tools.

Synology’s DSM 5.1 software is stuffed with business-class features making it ideal for data backup duties. Even better, we found the RS815+ extremely quiet making it a good choice as a backup appliance for SOHOs.

For workstation backup, Synology’s venerable Data Protector Windows utility has been replaced by the Cloud Station app. This provides a simple folder syncing service between a user’s local folder and a predefined folder on the appliance in the user’s home directory.

After assigning a QuickConnect ID to the appliance, we created new users and allowed them to access the Cloud Station. From the local Windows Cloud Station utility, we entered the appliance’s QuickConnect ID plus user credentials and selected the folders we wanted synced.

We found it worked well and as we added files to our source folder or modified existing ones, they were immediately synced to the appliance. To restore files, we remotely accessed the appliance’s File Station app with the relevant user account, selected the ones we wanted and chose a download location.

This ship is syncing

Amazon’s S3 cloud service is easy to use and provides an ideal off-site backup solution for critical data.

Along with workstation and mobile backup, the Cloud Station can sync folders with other Synology appliances. This is just as easy to use where we loaded the Cloud Station client app on the lab’s DS1813+, paired it with the RS815+ using its QuickConnect ID and chose the folders we wanted synced.

There’s more as the Cloud Sync app works happily with Dropbox, Google Drive, OneDrive and Box. We tested it with our Dropbox account and found it remarkably easy to set up and use.

If you want that all important off-site storage for critical data, the RS815+ works with a fine range of cloud storage providers. Accessed from the Backup and Replication app, we could link up with our Amazon Web Services account and backup folders to the S3 service or use the separate app for Amazon’s slower but cheaper Glacier service.

Apps aplenty

Synology offers a remarkable range of free business apps for all its NAS appliances.

Synology offers a remarkable range of free business apps for all its NAS appliances.

The number and quality of apps for DSM just keeps on getting better. You can have an office party with Synology’s myriad multimedia apps or view and share your prized pictures from the Photo Station. On appliance anti-virus scanning comes courtesy of Synology’s free app and you can make the RS815+ a mail, Directory, VPN or web server.

Thin and thick provisioned IP SANs, LUN snapshots and clones are fully supported and as the appliance has an Intel CPU, it supports Windows ODX data offloading. Although not so practical on a 4-bay box, you can use SSD read and write caches for increasing performance of IOPS intensive workloads.

We use the CMS (central management system) app to manage all the lab’s Synology appliances from one console where we can remotely view their hardware, status and installed apps. And then there’s the excellent Surveillance Station v7.0 app which took a closer look at in our review of Synology’s RS3615xs.

PROS:
  • Remarkable performance
  • Quad Gigabit ports
  • Integral AES-NI encryption engine
  • Superb backup features

CONS:
  • Nothing to complain about here

Conclusion

Synology says the RS815+ is the most powerful 1U rack NAS appliance it’s built so far and our test results show this is no idle claim. The RS815+ and its Atom SoC delivers a big leap in performance over its predecessor and combining this with its excellent value makes it a good choice for small but very busy businesses.

9.3 Total Score
Excellent Value

Synology says the RS815+ is the most powerful 1U rack NAS appliance it’s built so far and our test results show this is no idle claim. The RS815+ and its Atom SoC delivers a big leap in performance over its predecessor and combining this with its excellent value makes it a good choice for small but very busy businesses.

Performance
10
Features
9.5
Build Quality
9
Usability
9
Value
9
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