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NAS Reviews

DiskStation
At a glance
ProductSynology DiskStation (DS1817)   [Website]
Summary8 bay RAID 5 class 10 GbE NAS running on quad-core Annapurna Labs platform. Supports eSATA connected expansion cabinets
Pros• Two 10GbE copper ports built in
• Easy RAM expansion
• Compatible with Synology Expansion cabinets
Cons• Does not support SSD cache

Introduction

Synology's DS1817 DiskStation is an 8-bay Annapurna Labs-powered NAS with 4 GB of memory (expandable to 8 GB) with two Gigabit Ethernet ports and two built-in copper 10 GbE LAN ports. The same hardware platform is available in the five-bay DS1517. But it does not have 10 GbE ports or the ability to add them.

As a member of Synology's Value series, the DS1817 is one step below the recently reviewed Plus series DS1517+. There are quite a few important differences between the two products:

  • As noted in our review, the five-bay DS1517+ has a PCIe slot that can be used to add two 10 GbE ports to its included complement of 4 Gigabit LAN ports. Alternatively, the PCIe slot can be used to install a dual M.2 card that adds the capability of SSD (Solid State Drive) caching 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. The Value series, including the DS1817, does not have a PCIe slot.
  • The DS1817 ships with 4 GB of RAM and can be upgraded to 8GB. The DS1517+ is available with 2 GB or 8 GB and can be upgraded to 16 GB.
  • The DS1817 is powered by a 32 bit quad-core Annapurna Labs Alpine AL314 running at 1.7 GHz. The DS1517+ uses a 64 bit quad-core Intel Atom C2538 @ 2.4 GHz.

The chart below, generated from our NAS Finder, shows a top level comparison between the two NASes that we'll be using for comparison in this review. The DS1817 was tested with 4 GB of RAM; the DS1517+ was tested with 8 GB. You can also check our feature comparison and Synology's comparison of these two products.

Synology DS1817 feature comparison

Synology DS1817 feature comparison

The callouts below show the front and rear panel of the DS1817. The disk trays feature locks - a feature missing on many "value" oriented NASes. There are no USB 3.0 ports on the front panel, nor does the DS1817 have a One Touch copy button. The rear panel has two Gigabit Ethernet ports, two 10G BASE-T LAN ports, two additional USB 3.0 ports and two eSATA ports.

Synology DS1817 front and rear panel callouts

Synology DS1817 front and rear panel callouts

Unlike many QNAP products, neither the DS1817 nor the DS1517+ have display panels. All device status is provided by LEDs. The table below shows "Appendix B" referenced in the callout description table above. It's worth noting that each of the four LAN ports has two status LEDs - one for reporting link speed and one for activity.

Synology DS1817 LED status

Synology DS1817 LED status

Inside

We didn't open the product to take a board photo. However, according to the hardware installation guide, memory expansion is fairly simple, as is the replacement of the system fans. Installation of 3.5" drives into the drive trays does not require any tools. Installation of 2.5" drives requires screws.

Synology DS1817 RAM upgrade

Synology DS1817 RAM upgrade

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 DS1817 Synology DS1517+
CPU AnnaPurna Labs quad-core Alpine AL314 @ 1.7 GHz Intel Atom C2538 @ 2.4 GHz
RAM 4 GB DDR3 SoDIMM (expandable to 8 GB) 8 GB DDR3 SoDIMM (expandable to 16 GB)
Flash
?
? 512 MB Macronix MX30UF4G18AB
Ethernet
?
? Atheros AR8035A Gigabit Ethernet PHY (x2)
USB 3.0
?
Etron Tech EJ188H USB 3.0 host controller
Table 1: Key component summary and comparison

Power consumption with four SmallNetBuilder-provided WD Red 1TB (WD10EFRX) drives was 48 W (active) and 24 W power save. Fan and drive noise was rated as medium (mostly fan noise). RAID 5 rebuild for a 4 X 1 TB volume was ~ 3 hours and 20 minutes.

Features

The DS1817 runs Synology's DiskStation Manager DSM Version 6.1. You can download the comprehensive DSM 6.1 user's guide. The data sheet for the DS1817 provides 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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