Synology RackStation RS816 Review

Synology Rackstation RS816 front view

Synology’s Value range of NAS appliances are designed for users that want a balanced combination of price, performance and features. The RS816 is the latest the join this burgeoning family and offers an equally good value proposition but with a significant boost in performance over its predecessor.

Space constrained offices will like the RS816’s compact chassis which measures a mere 12in. deep. It has four hot-swap drive bays across the front which can all be secured using the small locking mechanism on the carrier handles.

Synology sticks with the Marvell range of 32-bit dual-core CPUs and the RS816 gets a faster 1.8GHz Armada 385 88F6820 model which also incorporates a hardware encryption engine. This is a good step up from the 1.33GHz version in the RS815 but memory doesn’t get the same treatment as the RS816 still has only 1GB of embedded DDR3 which can’t be upgraded.

Port permutations haven’t changed either as the RS816 has dual Gigabit and USB 3 ports at the rear. There’s an eSATA port alongside that can be used to attach external storage devices or to expand capacity with a matching RX415 4-bay 1U expansion unit. However, we think a price tag of around $529 for what is essentially a dumb disk shelf is excessive.

Synology Rackstation RS816 rear view

Voyage of discovery

Seagate 8TB HDD

We tested the RS816 with Seagate’s latest high-capacity 8TB NAS HDD drives

To test the RS816 we loaded up a triplet of Seagate’s monster 8TB NAS HDD drives in the sturdy metal carriers and used Synology’s slick discovery web portal. This found the appliance on our network, offered to apply the latest DSM software for us and create an SHR (Synology Hybrid RAID) array using the three drives.

You can choose classic RAID arrays but the SHR variety are more flexible. They let you mix drives of different makes and capacities in one array without taking a hit on capacity and allow it to be expanded into new drives on the fly.

We also registered the RS816 with our Synology cloud account which provides remote access to all our appliances. More importantly, it assigns it a unique QuickConnect ID of our choosing allowing mobile users and systems running the Cloud Station backup client to access it without having to enter the full web address.

Mixed performance

RS816 great for private clouds

Synology provides plenty of tools for private clouds and workstation backup

For performance testing, we used a Dell PowerEdge R230 rack server equipped with a 3GHz E3-1220 v5 Xeon plus 16GB of DDR4 memory and running Windows Server 2012 R2. With a share mapped to the server, we saw Iometer record very good raw read and write rates of 113MB/sec and 112MB/sec.

Large file copy speeds were good as well with drag and drop copies of a 25GB test file to a share delivering sustained read and write rates of 113MB/sec and 109MB/sec. Our backup test was more demanding as a 22.4GB folder with 10,500 small files was copied over at only 64MB/sec.

The Armada CPU does have a hardware encryption engine but performance isn’t great. Copying our 25GB test file to an encrypted folder on the appliance averaged only 48MB/sec – Synology’s RS815+ and its 2.4GHz Atom C2538 returned a superior 80MB/sec for this test.

To test maximum NAS performance we connected another rack server to the appliance’s second Gigabit port and gave it a dedicated share. With Iometer running on both servers, we recorded cumulative read and write speeds of 224MB/sec and 196MB/sec – well above Synology’s quoted speeds.

DSM data protection

RS816 has the Armada CPU

Our NAS performance tests pushed the appliance’s Armada CPU to the limit

Synology’s DSM offers a remarkable range of storage features but there are a few that aren’t available on the RS816. As its Armada CPU is only 32-bit, it doesn’t support BTRFS or the Snapshot Replication app plus a number of others including the Docker DSM and Virtual DSM virtualization apps.

However, even without the snapshot feature, the RS816 still delivers plenty of data protection capabilities. The Hyper Backup app is a real winner as brings all your local, remote, Rsync, cloud and iSCSI LUN backups into one console for easier management.

Creating any backup task is really easy as the app provides wizards for 18 different types of destinations and we could schedule them to run at regular intervals. For backups run to our remote Synology appliances, we loaded the Hyper Backup Vault app on them, viewed their contents and restored files directly using its Backup Explorer.

Clouds and security

The RS816 has additional security

Synology’s Antivirus Essentials app provides an additional layer of data security

The RS816 can be a real all-rounder as Synology’s extra apps allow it to run business services such as web, LDAP, DNS, DHCP and VPN servers. There are so many even Synology gets confused as it states the RS816 can run MailPlus when, in fact, this new webmail app is only supported by 64-bit CPUs.

Synology’s Cloud Station Server app makes light work of workstation backup. We installed the client on a Windows 10 desktop, connected it remotely to the RS816 via its QuickConnect ID and selected local and remote folder pairs for real-time one-way synchronization.

If you want private Dropbox-style file syncing across multiple clients then use Cloud Station Drive. This is just as easy to use as the Backup app and allows you to securely permit file sharing between users.

Data security gets a big boost with the Antivirus Essentials app which can be set to run manual or scheduled full, custom or system scans. Infected files are placed in a quarantine area and a sensible feature is prior to each scan, the app automatically checks for new signature files and downloads them.

Conclusion

The RS816 will suit undemanding small businesses that want a compact central repository for shared storage and data backup. The 32-bit CPU does limit the number of supported apps and encryption performance isn’t great but it can’t be faulted for the superb range of backup apps and cloud provider support.

8 Total Score
Suited for Small Business

The RS816 will suit undemanding small businesses that want a compact central repository for shared storage and data backup. The 32-bit CPU does limit the number of supported apps and encryption performance isn’t great but it can’t be faulted for the superb range of backup apps and cloud provider support.

Performance
7.5
Features
7.5
Build Quality
8.5
Usability
9
Value
8.5
PROS
  • Good value
  • Hyper Backup app
  • General NAS performance
  • Classy private cloud features
CONS
  • 32-bit CPU doesn’t support BTRFS and snapshots
  • Poor encryption performance
  • RX415 expansion unit expensive
User Rating: 4.25 (1 votes)