Synology DiskStation DS1511+ review
A frighteningly fast desktop NAS appliance with huge expansion potential and storage features to match
Not only does Synology’s latest NAS appliance claim impressive performance, but it also looks to have the highest expansion potential we’ve yet seen for a desktop box. The DS1511+ borrows the sleek five-bay chassis of the DS1010+, and doubles the number of eSATA expansion ports to two.
These service Synology’s matching DX510 five-bay expansion units, so if you can afford a round of 3TB SATA drives, this solution can be pushed to a capacity of 45TB. Synology has also been talking up the appliance’s dual Gigabit Ethernet ports and their support for link aggregation.
Placing the ports in a load-balanced link gives a top bandwidth of 2Gbits/sec, but there are some provisos – you need a managed switch that supports link aggregation control protocol (LACP), and your client systems each need two LACP-compliant Gigabit Ethernet ports.
The PC Pro Enterprise lab’s ProCurve 2848 supports LACP, so once the appliances’ ports were teamed together, it dynamically created an LACP link.
Using two Xeon 5500 rack servers running Windows Server 2008 R2 64-bit, we mapped separate shares to them from a quad-drive RAID0 stripe on the appliance, and ran Iometer on each one. We measured cumulative raw read speeds of 205MB/sec and write speeds of 169MB/sec, slightly better than Synology’s quoted speeds.
Moving over to one of the test servers, we ran drag-and-drop copies of a 2.52GB video clip and measured impressive read and write speeds of 99MB/sec and 96MB/sec. Using the same test file with the FileZilla FTP client, we saw speeds increase to 108MB/sec and 103MB/sec respectively.
The DS1511+ offers the storage features that impressed us in the DS1010+, but also introduces Synology’s new DiskStation Manager 3.1. This is an update to the version included in Synology’s RS810RP+, which launched a redesigned web browser interface that can be customised using drag and drop manoeuvres.
It features Disk Groups, which are RAID arrays supporting multiple volumes instead of only one. Synology’s hybrid RAID also lets you create arrays using different sized disks, and now offers dual-drive redundancy for these.
Backup features have been improved, as shared folders can be synchronised between two Synology appliances. We had no problem enabling the Network Backup service using an RS411 as a destination appliance, selecting source and destination folders and leaving them to keep in step in real-time.
Although still in beta testing, the Time Backup feature automates snapshots of one volume to another and allows you to retain different file versions over time. It’s easy to use, and DiskStation Manager’s Disk Groups and multiple volumes make it even more flexible.
The DS1511+ impresses on many levels. It’s one of the fastest NAS appliances currently available, and it looks an ideal network storage choice for small businesses.