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NAS Reviews

5-Bay DiskStation
At a glanceRAID5-10GbE NAS Performance
May 2017
ProductSynology 5-Bay DiskStation (DS1517+)   [Website]
Summary5 bay RAID 5 class NAS running on quad-core Intel Atom platform. Supports eSATA connected expansion cabinet & optional 10 GbE or M.2 SSD cache
Pros• PCIe slot for 10GbE or M.2 SSD cache adapter
• Easy RAM expansion
• Compatible with Synology Expansion cabinets
• Supports SSD caching
Cons• Pricey

Introduction

Updated 18 May 2017 - Miscellaneous corrections

After my recent look at QNAP's 10 GbE-capable TS-431X, I decided to continue the 10GbE theme. This time it's Synology's DS1517+ DiskStation, targeted at the Workgroup/Small & Medium business market.

Part of Synology's "Plus" series, the DS1517+ replaces the DS1515+. It features five drive bays, four Gigabit Ethernet ports, four USB 3.0 ports and two eSATA ports. It's a step-up alternative to the DS1515, which is the five-bay member of Synology's "Value" series. The DS1515 also has a quad-core CPU (Annapurna Labs Alpine AL-314 @ 1.4 GHz), but a fixed 2 GB complement of RAM and no ability to add M.2 cache or 10 GbE. Check Synology's full comparison for more details.

The main difference between the DS1515+ and DS1517+ is the latter's PCIe expansion slot that enables installing a single or dual port 10 GbE card or dual M.2 card. The latter adds the capability of SSD (Solid State Drive) caching for improved performance without using up drive bay slots, where 2.5" SSD drives can also be configured for caching. Synology has an interesting white paper that describes the benefits of SSD caching that's well worth reading if you're trying to eke out the maximum performance from your NAS. You can buy the DS1517+ with 2 or 8 GB of DDR3 RAM installed at MSRPs of $699.99 and $799.99, respectively. Synology sent the 8 GB configuration for review.

For this review, I'll be comparing the DS1517+ with QNAP's TS-563-8G. Like the DS1517+, the TS-563-8G is targeted to the SMB-middle range market. Both NASes have five bays, are 10 GbE capable with the addition of an optional PCIe 10GbE NIC and support capacity expansion by using additional storage cabinets.

The chart below, generated from our NAS Finder, shows a top level comparison between the two NASes. Both of the units were tested with 8 GB of RAM, and both can be increased to 16 GB. The DS1517+ has four Gigabit Ethernet ports, compared to two on the TS-563-8G and has four USB 3.0 ports, compared the to QNAP's five. You can look at a complete features comparison here.

Synology DS1517+ feature comparison

Synology DS1517+ comparison

The callouts below show the front and rear panel of the DS1517+. There's a single USB 3.0 port on the front panel. The port is easy to miss; you need to get down to table level to see it. The rear panel has four Gigabit Ethernet ports, PCIe Expansion slot, three additional USB 3.0 ports and two eSATA ports for connecting Synology expansion cabinets. You can also attach a single eSATA external drive for backup.

Synology DS1517+ front and rear panel callouts

Synology DS1517+ front and rear panel callouts

Inside

Synology's specs clearly state a 2.4 GHz quad-core Intel Atom C2538 runs the show. Since the DS1517+ proved to be too difficult to disassemble to get a good main board photo, we know little else about its innards. So the data in the key component summary table is pretty sparse.

Updated 18 May 2017

We were able to identify the board supplying the 10GbE SFP+ port as Synology's E10G17-F2. This is a Mellanox ConnectX-3 Pro EN MCX312B-XCCS, which is the same as a Mellanox ConnectX-3 Pro EN MCX312B-XCCT with the short bracket factory-mounted. Amazon was showing $280 for Synology's card and $251 for Mellanox'. Either way your total cost for an 8 GB DS1517+ with 10GbE will be over $1000.

According to the hardware installation guide, memory expansion via a removable panel on the bottom cover is fairly simple as described below. Accessing the PCIe slot is relatively easy, too, but requires removing the main cabinet cover. Memory configurations are 2 GB (1 x 2 GB) and 8 GB (2 x 4 GB). So you'll end up with spare RAM if you move up to maximum RAM.

Synology DS1517+ easy RAM expansion

Synology DS1517+ easy RAM expansion

The table below summarizes the key components for the two NASes that we'll be using for our comparisons in the performance section of this review.

  Synology DS1517+ QNAP TS-563-8G
CPU Intel Atom C2538 @ 2.4 GHz AMD x86 G-Series Quad-core 2.0 GHz processor (GX-420CA)
RAM 8 GB DDR3 Transcend SoDIMM (expandable to 16 GB) 8 GB DDR3 SoDIMM(upgradeable to 16 GB total)
Flash USB DoM - unknown size 512 MB USB DoM
Ethernet ? Intel WG1210AT (x2)
USB 3.0 ? Asmedia 1074 4 port USB 3.0 controller
Table 1: Key component summary and comparison

Power consumption with four WD Red 1TB (WD10EFRX) drives we provided was 38W with drives spun up and 26W with drives spun down. Fan and drive noise was rated as Medium (mostly fan noise). RAID 5 rebuild for a 4X1TB volume was ~ 2hour and 45 minutes.

Features

As with all current Synology products, the DS1517+ runs Synology's DiskStation Manager DSM Version 6.1. You can download the comprehensive DSM 6.1 user's guide here. The data sheet for the DS1517+ will give you a good overview of its features and how it differs from some of the other Synology NASes. If you want to take the user interface for a spin, Synology's online demo will let you check out many, but not all of the features. The screenshot below shows the DSM 6.1 landing page with the Control Panel opened and several desktop widgets active.

Synology DSM 6.1 desktop

Synology DSM 6.1 desktop

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