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Synology RackStation RS2818RP+ review

Mixed performance but this feature-rich NAS appliance offers SMEs a huge storage capacity at a great price

Price
£2,308
  • Heaps of storage and backup features; Great value; High capacity
  • Encryption performance lags behind rivals; Overall performance could be better

As Synology's first 3U rack NAS appliance in its 'Plus' series, the RS2818RP+ aims to offer cost-conscious SMEs a more affordable but equally capacious alternative to its large-scale RS4018xs+. With 16 hot-swap SATA drive bays, it has the same impressive storage capacity but cuts costs by losing the dual embedded 10GBase-T ports offered by its big brother and dropping to one Infiniband disk shelf expansion port.

Processing power is also scaled back as the RS2818RP+ has a simpler quad-core 2.1GHz Atom C3538. Even so, this is small price to pay for the near-2,000 reduction, and this CPU also allows the resident 4GB of non-ECC DDR4 memory to be expanded to 64GB.

High-speed 10GbE connections are still possible thanks to the RS2818RP+'s single PCI-Express expansion slot. For performance testing, we fitted an Emulex dual-port 10GBase-T card which was accepted without any complaints.

We had no problems loading a quartet of 10TB Seagate IronWolf SATA NAS drives although the carriers are not the tool-free variety. We then dropped into Synology's discovery web portal and left it to initialize the system and load the latest production DSM 6.1 software.

The RS2818RP+ is designed to be a high-capacity storage repository for data backup and file services. Along with RAID5 and 6 protection, it offers Synology Hybrid RAID (SHR) arrays which simplifies RAID choices and also supports an SHR-2 dual-drive redundancy option.

The Atom CPU is the 64-bit variety so the appliance can run all DSM apps. Data backup tools are in abundance with BTRFS volumes supporting NAS and IP SAN snapshots, which we ran manually and scheduled at regular intervals using the Snapshot Replication app.

The Cloud Station Server app teams up with the Backup Windows workstation client to provide one-way synchronization. Use the Cloud Station Drive agent on your workstations and you can run two-way synchronizations.

The Active Backup for Servers app secures data on Windows and Linux systems just using network shares, and Synology also offers free Active Backup apps for G Suite and Office 365. Clouds are on Synology's horizon as the Cloud Station Server app provides excellent private backup and file sharing services while the Cloud Sync app supports 22 public providers.

With our IronWolf drives configured as a big 27.3TB RAID5 array, the RS2818RP+ delivered a variable 10GbE performance. A NAS share mapped to a Dell PowerEdge R540 with dual Xeon Gold 6130 CPUs and running Windows Server 2016 returned excellent Iometer sequential reads of 9.2Gbit/sec but write rates fell markedly to 4.2Gbit/sec.

Our real world tests bore these out with drag and drop copies of a 25GB test file returning average read and write rates of 4.2Gbit/sec and 3.3Gbit/sec. Our backup test was better handled; securing a 22.4GB folder with 10,500 small files averaged a respectable 2.2Gbit/sec.

Encryption performance is reasonable with our 25GB file copied to an encrypted folder at 1.4Gbit/sec. However, this is far short of Qnap's spectacular TS-1277 desktop appliance as its Ryzen CPU returned a more impressive 2.7Gbit/sec for this test.

Synology's DSM 6.2 beta looks full of promise and includes the new Virtual Machine Manager which allows the appliance to host VMs running your choice of OS. You'll need to upgrade the resident 4GB of memory to get the best out of it but it provides a vSwitch feature to isolate VM traffic on selected network interfaces and Protection Plans for regularly snapshotting your VMs.

The new iSCSI Manager app adds more IP SAN features including simplified target management and faster snapshot and recovery processes. The Storage Manager app also gets a makeover and replaces the confusing Disk Groups and RAID Groups with Storage Pools.

General write speeds for NAS operations could be better but the RS2818RP+ offers an impressive network storage package for the price. It has a very high capacity backed up by dual-redundant PSUs while Synology's DSM software delivers a superb range of backup and cloud features.

Verdict

General write speeds for NAS operations could be better but the RS2818RP+ offers an impressive network storage package for the price. It has a very high capacity backed up by dual-redundant PSUs while Synology’s DSM software delivers a superb range of backup and cloud features.

3U rackmount chassis
2.1GHz Intel Atom C3538
4GB DDR4 (max 64GB)
16 x LFF/SFF hot-swap SATA drive bays
Supports RAID0, 1, 10, 5, 6, SHR, hot-spare, JBOD
4 x Gigabit, 2 x USB 3
1 x Expansion port, PCI-Express slot
2 x 500W hot-plug PSUs
3 year hardware warranty

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