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Synology DS1512+ Disk Station Reviewed

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Disk Station
At a glance
ProductSynology DS1512+ Disk Station   [Website]
SummaryExpandable five bay, high-performance BYOD SATA NAS with many features based on a dual-core Intel Atom D2700 processor.
Pros• Expandable to fifteen bays total with two DX510 cabinets
Cons• Expansion option isn't cheap

Typical Price: $1999  Compare Prices  Check Amazon

Overview

Updated 7 June 2012: Added fan failover feature info

Synology must be having good success with its expandable-NAS concept, because they keep on introducing new ones. The model I'm looking at today is the five-bay-expandable-to-fifteen DS1512+.

Capacity-wise, the DS1512+ is the next step up from the two bay DS712+ I looked at last fall. But hardware-wise, you should think of it as a step down from the eight-bay DS1812+ announced earlier this year. Both the 1512+ and 1812+ run on dual-core 2.13 GHz Intel "Cedar Trail" Atom D2700 CPUs with 1 GB of DDR3 RAM, expandable to 3 GB, while the older DS712+ has a single-core D425 Atom.

The DS1512+ has a no-nonsense look with the same styling as the DS1511+ it replaces. The chassis and cover are metal, with a plastic front bezel. Drive trays and the internal slides that accept them are also plastic, to dampen drive vibration noise.

The hot-swappable design has the drives loading from the front with individually-lockable (via hex-key) trays that accept both 2.5 and 3.5" SATA drives. The callout view below provides the rundown on ports, indicators and switches.

Synology DS1512+ Front and Rear Panels

Figure 1: Synology DS1512+ Front and Rear Panels

Note that there is no VGA port to support an attached console, nor is there an LCD status panel. You'll have to get any information you want via the front panel LEDs or logging into the web-based admin. The two 10/100/1000 Ethernet ports on the rear do not have built-in link/status LEDs, either.

In addition to DX510 expansion cabinets, the two rear eSATA ports support one eSATA drive each. The new hardware platform now includes two USB 3.0 ports and four USB 2.0 ports. So you can attach USB printers and drives to your heart's content.

Inside

Synology made the DS1512+ easy to service. The two fans are mounted on plates so that they can be swapped out without having to open the cabinet. Once you get inside, the power supply and main board are easily removable. Expanding memory to a total of 3 GB is easy, too, via an empty SoDIMM socket that you don't have to remove the board to get at.

Updated 7 June 2012

Synology wrote to point out its new "fan failover" feature. If one fan fails, the other will speed up to compensate until the failed fan is replaced.

Speaking of the board, a shot of its top is below. A dual-core Intel D2700 Atom is under one of those heatsinks and an unnamed Southbridge / companion chip is under the other. I didn't remove the heatsinks and couldn't find any references to the companion part in the system boot messages. That's a 1 GB flash Disk-on-Memory (DOM) module at the upper right. There is another small flash device on the other side of the board, I'm guessing maybe 128 MB.

Synology DS1512+ DiskStation board

Figure 2: Synology DS1512+ DiskStation board

The two Gigabit Ethernet ports are supplied by a pair of Intel WG82574L controllers that can be set to aggregation, failover and separate LAN modes. A Silicon Image SiI3132 PCI Express to 2-Port Serial ATA II Host Controller services the two eSATA ports. The internal SATA ports come from the Intel Southbridge, as do USB 2.0 ports. Two USB 3.0 ports are provided via an NEC D720200AF USB 3.0 controller

Table 1 puts all of this info in one place, along with a few other parts I haven't mentioned.

CPU Intel Atom D2700 @ 2.13 GHz
Ethernet Intel WG82574L (x2)
RAM 1 GB DDR3 SoDIMM (expandable to 3 GB)
Flash 1 GB DOM
Southbridge ?
eSATA

Silicon Image SiI3132

I/O ITE IT8728F
uC Microchip PIC16F883
Table 1: DS1512+ key components

Power consumption measured 71 W with five WD RE4 2 TB 7200 RPM (WD2003FYYS) drives that Synology supplied spun up and 34 W when the programmable drive spindown kicked in. Fan noise, in the default "Quiet" mode (the other two modes are "Cool" and "Low-Power") was audible along with some drive noise in my home office environment. So I rated the 1512+' noise as medium.




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Synology Adds Another Expandable NAS
Synology DS712+ DiskStation Reviewed

User reviews

Average user rating from: 2 user(s)

NOTE! Please post product reviews from actual experience only.
Questions, review comments and opinions about products not based on actual use will not be published.

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Overall: 
 
4.3 Features :
 
3.5 Performance :
 
4.5 Reliability :
 
5.0
 
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What Bob (the reviewer before me) didn't cover

Overall rating: 
 
4.7
Features:
 
4.0
Performance:
 
5.0
Reliability:
 
5.0
Reviewed by kly
July 02, 2012
Report this review
 

What Bob didn't cover in his comments:

- The Surveillance Station is extremely advanced in it's capabilities and support from Synology is really great. Indeed, if you want to connect more than one camera, you have to buy additional licences. If you choose not to pay for this amazing software and support, you can always install open source packages (since it's a linux based device) like you have to on most devices of other brands.

- I haven't noticed any CPU or RAM increases on my unit. However, if it would occur, you can easily monitor CPU and memory usage through the UI. Go up to the resource monitor. This utility will give you a nice graph showing the usage of both. If you click on one of those graphs, you get a nice overview of all processes and their percentages of the selected resource they use.

- Indeed, there were some problems with the upload of photographs in the past. However, they only occured in previous firmwares. With the new DSM4 (installed on the 1512 by default!) this isn't the case anymore.
Also, this problem only occured when you uploaded photo's through Photo Station (a nice package by Synology to showcase your photos). Uploading them the regular way (Samba, NFS, SFTP, FTP, HTTP, ...) didn't cause any problems.
In fact, we shouldn't be spending so much comments on this because it has been fixed months ago.

The only minor for me is the price. There are some (I admit: B-brands) that are cheaper. However, I have never ever regretted my purchase.
Support is absolutely great and their constant firmware-updates and release of packages is great.

 

What the review doesn't cover

Overall rating: 
 
4.0
Features:
 
3.0
Performance:
 
4.0
Reliability:
 
5.0
Reviewed by Bob
June 28, 2012
Report this review
 

It has become clear in the all the reviews I have read that very little time is actually spent with the units because some interesting, and potentially decision impacting, features and functions are not mentioned.

I have a DS1512+ and can comment on a few of the items which go unmentioned in other reviews.

1.) IP cameras. Synology used to allow several IP camera's with the purchase of the unit. They have changed their policy with later firmware/software releases so now only one IP camera is supported in the purchase of the unit. Additional IP camera licenses cost about $60 each. This change of policy, regardless of their explanations, makes me wonder if future upgrades of firmware/software will remove the single remaining license from the unit and force users to pay.

2.) When your Synology unit begins running the disks a lot of the CPU or RAM increases, you have no way to determine what process on the machine is causing the higher use through the user interface. All you know is that it's busy/slow.

3.) Uploading a large number of photographs to the machine is extremely slow. This is because the NAS creates thumbnails for it's DSPhoto application. If you do not upload the images via the Synology Assistant software, the NAS CPU will attempt to thumbnail the images, which makes the CPU run at about 50% on that one task until it is completed. 1000 images would convert on the NAS in about 3 weeks. If you upload via the Synology Assistant, your computer CPU is used instead and each photo thumbnail can be converted in 5-15 seconds, depending on your hardware. For 1000 images, this could take 4 hours. Photographers, who have tens of thousands of images are looking at days or weeks to upload. When a new version of the Synology firmware/software is released, it apparently tries to re-create the thumbnails. I have not experienced this myself, but mention is made in their user forums.

Good luck and read the manufacturer forums before you make a purchase decision.