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The main reason I wanted to test the DX510 was to see if the single eSATA connection and use of SATA port multiplier would have any significant impact on performance. I ran tests with the DX510 connected to a DS1010+ and also a DS710+.

Both NASes were first upgraded to DSM 2.3-1161 and Samsung HE103UJ SpinPoint F1 1 TB drives were used in both main NASes and DX510. Test runs were made using our standard NAS test process with the following volume configurations:

  • DS1010+: Five internal drives in RAID 5
  • DS1010+ / DX510: Five drives in DX510 in RAID 5
  • DS1010+ / DX510: One drive in DS1010+ and four in DX510 in RAID 5

Figure 9 shows a comparison of the iozone-based tests for the RAID 5 volumes. There is some larger difference in cached behavior, with the DX510-based volume showing speeds higher than the other configurations. But for when cached behavior drops out at file sizes of 1 GB and higher, the internal volume has the highest performance, followed by the volume spread across the two boxes and finally the DX510-based volume.

DS1010+ / DX510 RAID 5 write performance comparison
Click to enlarge image

Figure 9: DS1010+ / DX510 RAID 5 write performance comparison

Read results seem to show a similar pattern. But the high variation in the mixed volume run make it more difficult to really call the results.

DS1010+ / DX510 RAID 5 read performance comparison
Click to enlarge image

Figure 10: DS1010+ / DX510 RAID 5 read performance comparison

Switching over to using the DS710+, I ran only two tests, skipping the "mixed" volume.

  • DS710+: Two internal drives in RAID 1
  • DS710+ / DX510: Two drives in DX510 in RAID 1

In Figure 11, write cache is still in effect at 1 GB file size. But it seems like the RAID 1 volume in the DX510 has the edge over the internal DS710+ volume.

DS710+ / DX510 RAID 1 write performance comparison
Click to enlarge image

Figure 11: DS710+ / DX510 RAID 5 write performance comparison

Read results in Figure 12 show a similar pattern, but the difference is too close to say that there really is a difference (note the expanded scale in Figure 12).

DS710+ / DX510 RAID 1 read performance comparison
Click to enlarge image

Figure 12: DS710+ / DX510 RAID 5 read performance comparison

For a simpler performance comparison, I gathered the Vista SP1 filecopy test results into Table 1 for the RAID 5 tests and Table 2 for the RAID 1 tests. Each value shown is the average of three filecopy runs and I've calculated the percentage change for the other volume configurations using the internal drive volume as the reference.

This time, both the all-DX510 and mixed volumes show a write performance degradation between 8 and 10%. Read results are a mixed bag, though, with the all-DX510 volume showing no change and the mixed volume change cut in half to 4%.

DS1010+ RAID5 DS1010+ RAID5 in DX510 DS1010+ / DX510 RAID5 1/4
85.7 77.6 79.0
% Change -9.4% -7.7%
97.3 98.0 93.2
% Change 0.8% -4.1%
Table 1: File copy comparison - RAID 5

The DS710+ based RAID 1 results in Table 2 are a surprise, showing the speed of an all-DX510 RAID 1 volume about 7% higher for write, but only 2% for read.

DS710+ RAID1 DS710+ RAID1 in DX510
87.5 94.0
% Change 7.4%
97.1 99.4
% Change 2.3%
Table 2: File copy comparison - RAID 1

I wouldn't read too much into the differences these results show, however. Test accuracy is probably somewhere in the +/- 3% range due to the techniques and limited test runs. And, in the end, the likelihood of detecting a 5% or so difference in performance in real-world use is pretty slim.

Closing Thoughts

I've seen some complaints about the $500 cost of the DX510. And based on manufacturing cost, I agree that it seems that Synology must be making a good profit on this product. But when you have a captive audience and have to suffer constantly diminishing profits on most of the products you make, what manufacturer doesn't grab any chance it can get for putting more money in their pocket?

That aside, Synology has produced a nice trio of products in the DS710+, DS1010+ and DX510. You can start small with the DS710+ and add storage and RAID levels later or start big using the DS1010+ and go even bigger. Either way, you won't get away cheap. But you won't sacrifice performance by taking a pay-as-you-grow approach.

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