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NAS Reviews

Disk Station
At a glance
ProductSynology DS712+ Disk Station   [Website]
SummaryTwo bay, high-performance BYOD SATA NAS with many features based on Intel Atom D425 processor. Can be expanded to 7 bays with optional DX510.
Pros• Expandable to seven bays total
Cons• Expansion option isn't cheap
• Pretty expensive for a two bay NAS

Typical Price: $748  Shop Amazon

Overview

The DS712+ is a two bay single-core Atom (D425) for buyers looking to start small, but still have the ability to easily expand storage in a single NAS. Its concept is similar to Synology's DS710+, but with a step up in processing power and some cost-reducing design changes. And if you're just looking for Synology's speediest dual-bay NAS, the 712+ will fill that need, too.

The two bays, which are lockable via modified hex-head bolts, accept both 2.5" and 3.5" SATA drives. Expansion to a total of seven drives comes via the DX510 expansion unit, which also works with the DS710+ and DS1010+.

The DS712+ is nice-looking and compact; about the same size as the DS710+ that it seems to be replacing. The chassis and cover are metal, with plastic front and rear panels. Drive trays and the internal slides that accept them are also plastic, I imagine to dampen drive vibration noise.

Synology's new hot-swappable dual-bay design now has the drives loading from the front vs. the 710+' rear entry. The callout view below shows all the essentials about ports and indicators. You might note that the VGA port that the DS710+ had is now gone.

Synology DS712+ Front and Rear Panels

Figure 1: Synology DS712+ Front and Rear Panels

In addition to the DX510 expansion cabinet, the rear eSATA port supports a single eSATA drive for faster backups than you'll get from the USB drives you can plug into the three USB 2.0 ports. Sorry, but USB 3.0 ports didn't make the cut into the 712+' feature list.

Inside

Getting inside the 712+ involved removing three screws, lifting off the rear panel, disconnecting the fan plug and slipping off the outer metal cover. With that done, I was able to snap the photo below of the main board with the drives removed.

Synology DS712+ DiskStation board

Figure 2: Synology DS712+ DiskStation board

The Intel D425 Atom CPU is under one of the the two heatsinks and I'm guessing that the same Intel 82801IR (ICH9R) Southbridge used in the DS2411+ is under the other. The single SoDIMM of 1 GB DDR3-1066 RAM has Synology's usual "Warranty Void if Removed" label slapped over it. 128 MB of flash sits on a USB-connected Disk-On-Memory (DOM) module that you can see part of to the right of the RAM.

The two Gigabit Ethernet ports are supplied by two Intel WG82574L controllers that can be set to aggregation, failover and separate LAN modes. A Silicon Image SiI3531 PCI Express to 1 Port SATA300 device services the single eSATA port. The two internal SATA ports come from the Intel Southbridge, as do the three USB 2.0 ports. Table 1 puts all of this info in one place, along with a few other minor parts I haven't mentioned.

CPU Intel Atom D425 @ 1.8 GHz
Ethernet Intel WG82574L (x2)
RAM 1 GB DDR3-1066 SoDIMM
Flash 128 MB DOM
Southbridge Intel 82801IR (ICH9R) [guess]
eSATA

Silicon Image SiI3531

I/O ITE IT8720F
uC Microchip PIC16F883
Table 1: DS712+ key components

Power consumption measured 35 W with the two WD RE4 2 TB 7200 RPM (WD2003FYYS) drives that Synology installed spun up and 20 W when the programmable drive spindown kicked in. Fan noise, even in the default "Quiet" mode (the other two modes are "Cool" and "Low-Power") was negligible in my home office environment. But I could hear the two drives quietly spinning away and, of course, some head noise during heavy use.

Features

The 712+ supports all the features in Synology's DiskStation Manager (DSM) 3.2 OS. The DSM 3.2-1944 build I used for testing didn't have any new features past those I highlighted in the recent DS2411+ review.

For more details on 3.2's features, check out the live demo or hit its page.

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