I used IOzone to check out the file system performance on the 209+ (the full testing setup and methodology are described on this page). I first upgraded to the latest DSM 2.0-0728 firmware and reset to factory defaults. As mentioned earlier, Synology installed two ST3500320AS 500 GB Seagate Barracuda 7200.11 drives (SATA 3Gb/s, 7200RPM, 32MB). I tested it in RAID 0 and 1 modes with 100 Mbps, 1000 Mbps and 1000 Mbps w/ 4k jumbo frame LAN connections.
Figure 4 summarizes the performance benchmarks, with write benchmarks plotted for the 1000 Mbps and 1000 Mbps, 4K jumbo frame LAN connections. RAID 1 does extract a performance penalty, but jumbo frames gives some of it back.
Figure 4: DS209+ Benchmark summary - 1000 Mbps LAN Write plotted
Figure 5 shows the read benchmarks for 1000 Mbps and 1000 Mbps, 4K jumbo LAN connections. Results here are more tightly clustered and you can see the performance drop when the file size hits the 209+ 512 MB file size and higher. But note the plot Y-axis; even without cache boost, read speed is still around 34 MB/s!
Figure 5: DS209+ Read Benchmarks - 1000 Mbps LAN
Moving along to the competitive comparison, Figure 6 shows the average large file size (32 MB to 1 GB) performance with a 1000 Mbps LAN connection for all two drive NASes we have tested and it nicely sums up the 209+'s performance story.
Figure 6: 1000 Mbps LAN Average Write Performance - all dual drive NASes
I'm not going to bother showing the other plots, because no matter which one you look at, the 209+ comes up with about 2X the performance of all other dual-drive NASes!
So that we can see if the high performance is driven by cache effects at smaller filesizes, I plotted throughput vs. filesize in RAID 1 with a 1000 Mbps LAN connection for the 209+ and its nearest neighbors on the NAS Chart, the QNAP TS-209 Pro, Netgear ReadyNAS Duo, ZyXEL NSA-220 and D-Link DNS-321.
Figure 7: RAID 1 Write performance comparison - 1000 Mbps LAN connection
Figure 7 shows that the 209+ earns its high ranking without help from cache boost, with almost flat throughput from 32 MB to 1 GB file sizes.
Figure 8 shows the read results for the same test conditions, where you can see some help from caching. This time, the ReadyNAS Duo breaks out of the pack. But with its 256 MB of RAM, it falls away sooner and, more notably, more drastically than the 209+.
Figure 8: RAID 1 Read performance comparison - 1000 Mbps LAN connection
Of course, you can run your own comparisons using the interactive NAS charts.
Synology has never attempted to be the NAS low-price leader and that strategy continues with the 209+. The 209+ is the fastest dual-drive NAS that I've seen yet. But you'll pay almost $500—without drives—to be a member of the club.
For that price, however, you get a powerful little black box that blurs the line between server and NAS. If that's what you're looking for and you have the cash, go for it.