Synology RackStation RS819 Review

Heading up Synology’s family of ‘Value’ rack NAS appliances, the RS819 delivers an overdue upgrade to the elderly RS816. Costing only $599 for a diskless unit, the RS819 hits the mark for value and it offers a significant performance boost over its predecessor.

Out goes the sluggish 32-bit dual-core 1.8GHz Armada CPU to be replaced by a superior 64-bit 1.4GHz quad-core Realtek RTD1296. Memory sees big improvements as the RS819 comes with 2GB of faster DDR4 although this is embedded on its motherboard and can’t be upgraded.

Small offices with limited space will approve of the 12in. deep chassis which is designed to fit in small two-post wall or floor standing cabinets. The appliance is solidly constructed and it’s quiet too, with the SPLnFFT app on our iPad recording only 37dB at one meter in front.

Along with four front hot-swap drive bays, its rear eSATA port can be used to expand outside the box with Synology’s RX418 disk shelf which is also the same depth. The RS819 retains the same port count with dual Gigabit and USB 3 at the rear but, unlike the equally short RS1219+, there isn’t room inside for an expansion slot so it can’t be upgraded to 10GbE.

Discover and deploy

The RS819 and its 64-bit CPU supports NAS and IP SAN snapshots and replication

For testing, we installed a quartet of 10TB Seagate IronWolf NAS drives and used Synology’s Assistant utility to discover the appliance on the lab network. It provided direct access to the appliance’s web console which ran a quick start wizard to get the latest DSM software downloaded and installed.

 

From the DSM Storage Manager, we created a single 27TB RAID5 array, but DSM also offers RAID6 and Synology Hybrid RAID (SHR). The latter is designed to simplify your RAID decisions as arrays can be easily expanded into new drives on the fly.

 

A big advantage of the 64-bit CPU is it allows the RS819 to support BTRFS volumes which brings NAS and iSCSI LUN snapshots into play. Managed by the Snapshot Replication app, you can run manual and scheduled snapshots and replicate them to remote Synology appliances.

Backup compromises

Synology’s Security Advisor makes sure your appliance and data are safe

Synology has aimed the RS819 at workgroup backup duties but the ARM-based CPU introduces some annoying limitations. Most notable is the lack of support for Synology’s flagship Active Backup for Business (ABB) app which also loses the Active Backup for Servers app which is now integrated into ABB

Other backup apps not supported are the Active Backup for G Suite and Active Backup for Office 365. Although less of an issue, the RS819 also doesn’t support apps such as Synology’s Active Directory Server, Docker, Virtual Machine Manager or CMS (Central Management System).

For backup duties, you’ll have to make do with Synology’s Hyper Backup app which manages local, remote, Rsync, cloud and iSCSI LUN backups from a single console. It supports 11 cloud providers including Amazon Drive, Dropbox plus Google Drive and also integrates with Synology’s C2 Backup cloud service for off-site storage.

Synology’s Drive app takes over from the Cloud Station Server app and provides a range of Dropbox-like synchronization services for collaboration and file sharing. All management is carried out from the separate Drive Admin Console app while users download the Drive agent for two-way folder syncing on Windows workstations or iOS and Android mobiles.

Good performance

The RS819 supports a good range of apps but Synology’s Active Backup suite is not on the guest list

To test performance, we used a Dell EMC PowerEdge T640 Xeon Scalable tower server running Windows Server 2016. With a share mapped over Gigabit, we saw Iometer record top raw sequential read and write rates of 113MB/sec and 112MB/sec.

Large file copy speeds were good with drag and drop copies of a 25GB test file from and to a share delivering sustained read and write rates of 112MB/sec and 111MB/sec. It handled our backup test well as our 22.4GB folder with 10,500 small files was secured at 83MB/sec – the RS816 mustered only 64MB/sec.

Encryption performance is another winner. Copying our 25GB file to an encrypted share averaged 77MB/sec with CPU utilization hovering around the 62% mark – the RS816 averaged only 48MB/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 190MB/sec.

IP SAN speeds are nothing to sniff at either with a 500GB target returning Iometer read and write rates of 111MB/sec and 100MB/sec. We ramped up the pressure with a dual-Gigabit MPIO link to the target and saw read and write speeds increase to 222MB/sec and 171MB/sec.

Other apps of distinction

Business data needs to be kept secure and the Security Advisor app aims to do just that as it scans the appliance, checks for malware and offers advice on closing any potential weaknesses. Security gets even tighter as you can decide which network ports services are enabled on, set application privileges and enforce 2-step verification for users.

Support for high-capacity 14TB SATA drives makes the RS819 a great video recording vault and Synology’s smart Surveillance Station app seals the deal as it’s the best of its kind on the market.  It supports a huge range of IP cameras, offers an impressive range of recording facilities and can even receive live video feeds from iOS and Android mobile devices.

Conclusion

Costing only $599 for a diskless model, the RS819 is an affordable 1U rack NAS appliance and its short-depth chassis makes it ideal for space constrained offices. The main drawbacks are its ARM-based CPU doesn’t support Synology’s classy Active Backup suite of apps, memory can’t be expanded and no expansion slot is provided. Even so, its scores well as a file sharing repository, its supports NAS and IP SAN snapshots and it’s a lot faster that the old RS816.

7.1 Total Score

Costing only $599 for a diskless model, the RS819 is an affordable 1U rack NAS appliance and its short-depth chassis makes it ideal for space constrained offices. The main drawbacks are its ARM-based CPU doesn’t support Synology’s classy Active Backup suite of apps, memory can’t be expanded and no expansion slot is provided. Even so, its scores well as a file sharing repository, its supports NAS and IP SAN snapshots and it’s a lot faster that the old RS816.

Performance
7.5
Features
5
Build quality
8
Usability
7
Value
8
PROS
  • Great value
  • Compact short-depth chassis
  • Good Gigabit performance
  • Quiet
CONS
  • No expansion slot
  • Non-upgradeable memory
  • Active Backup apps not supported
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