Once upon a time, I used to have a lot of spare time g33king around building low powered networked attached storage (NAS) servers. My favourite combo was FreeNAS running on the HP Microserver. These days I prefer the plug’n’play approach that many of the mainstream NAS manufacturers provide. Up till now, I’ve had the opportunity to explore the various great products from QNAP but as any good reviewer knows, diversity is the key in being able to provide unbiased reviews.
Enter the DiskStation DS1515+, Synology’s 5-disk, quad-core answer to a high performing and low powered NAS for small/medium businesses. The DS1515+ has four gigabit LAN ports capable of link aggregation and can scale up to support 15 drives through the use of eSATA expansion enclosures. With support for the latest 6TB HDDs, that’s a lot of storage for even the heaviest of data users out there.
|CPU||Intel Atom Quad Core 2.4GHz|
|DRAM||DDR3 2 GB (Expandable up to 6 GB)|
|Hard Disk Drive||3.5” or 2.5” SATA(II) X 5 (6TB HDDs supported)|
|LAN Port||Gigabit X 4|
|External Ports||USB 3.0 ports X 4, eSATA X 2|
|Dimensions (HxWxD)||157 x 248 x 233 mm|
|Networking Protocols||CIFS, AFP, NFS, FTP, WebDAV, CalDAV, iSCSI, Telnet, SSH, SNMP, VPN (PPTP, OpenVPN™, L2TP)|
|File System||Internal: EXT4
External: EXT4, EXT3, FAT, NTFS, HFS+
|Directory Service||Windows AD Integration: Domain Users login via Samba (CIFS)/AFP/FTP/File Station, LDAP Integration|
|Virtualization||VMware vSphere 5, Microsoft Hyper-V, Citrix Ready|
|Supported Clients||Windows XP onward, Mac OS X 10.5 onward, Ubuntu 9.04 onward|
The DS1515+ packaging includes:
- DS1515+ Unit
- Power lead
- 2 x LAN cables (RJ45)
- Accessory Pack
The front feels professional and elegant with the subtle black curves in the design. There is easy access to the five hot swappable drives through the tool-less drive trays in the front. Each tray can be individually locked for additional security.
The rear of the unit features 4 x Gigabit NICs, 4 x USB 3 and 2 x eSATA ports. The airflow is aided through the use of 80mm x 80mm fans.
Soft feet are used under the unit, presumably to also aid with the noise levels. I did however, find that those feet were a little too soft and managed to tear it as I moved the unit on the table. There was also a console socket next to one of the rear feet.
What you would expect to see on the inside of the unit. The memory slot is easily accessible for DIY upgrades. I’m not upgrading the RAM as part of this review but if the system board is anything like the other new NAS units, you’ll need low voltage DDR3 modules in order for them to be recognised.
Hard Drive Installation
One of the features that will no doubt be a time saver for busy support staff is the use of caddy trays that do not require screws or any tools to install 3.5″ HDDs. 2.5″ HDDs are still fastened to the tray with screws.
To install a 3.5″ drive, remove the side fastening panels:
Insert the drive:
Finally, insert the fastening panels back in place to secure the drive:
Configuring the DS1515+ was a fairly straight forward task. The prompts guide you step by step in getting the DiskStation software installed.
Quad LAN Ports
The four high speed LAN ports have been included with intensive usage in mind:
- Redundancy – ability to configure 2×2 bonded links instead of just 2×1 resulting in a redundant link should one pair fail
- Speed – the DS1515+ supports link aggregation (subject to switch compatibility) which boosts the available bandwidth
- Flexibility – each of the LAN ports can be assigned to a different subnet
The DS1515+ can scale up to 15 drives through the use of the DX513 expansion unit which provides as range of benefits:
- Cost effective method of expanding storage capacity
- Seamless growth in capacity without the need for formatting the new drives
- Able to reach up to 90TB of raw storage capacity
Remote Folder Mounting
The ability to mount shares from an external server and have it appear as a local folder is a great feature to include and something I wish more manufacturers would provide. To test this feature, I mounted a folder on my FreeNAS server.
Now you can keep your NAS in sync with some of the popular cloud storage providers. A great feature when you are always consuming your data on the go. Whilst this app is provided by Synology, it’s not one of the default ones installed. You will need to manually install this via the software catalog.
Using the Video Station or Media Server you can share media files over the network making it a great way to share large collections of videos to multiple devices.
Support for Mobile Apps
NAS builders are spoilt with choice from Intel when it comes to selecting the appropriate platform to build on. As we saw with the TS-653 Pro, QNAP went down the Intel Bay Trail-D path as they chose to differentiate through virtualization capabilities. Synology, on the other hand, have focused their energy on Intel’s Rangely platform which is stated to offer better benefits around multiple client performance, encryption and power.
The DS1515+ has a solid build and elegant design. A front USB would have been handy given that in most cases, installation of the NAS would be set and forget. Trying to access the USB port if you use them regularly would be a bit of a pain in this situation. Similarly, I prefer my NAS to be maxed out on RAM options. It’s great to see this can be done by the end user but with the price of RAM so low, not reason why this couldn’t be done as a stock option?
The Synology DSM is an established and capable product that takes full advantage of all the new hardware features. The latest version of DSM coupled with the mobile apps makes it one of the easiest platforms to install, support and use. It’s media sharing capabilities are a must for anyone with a large media collection to share across multiple devices.
Using the Rangely SoC and having a competitive price has clearly helped position the DS1515+ as a leading device in its category. It was straightforward to install and setup and required limited to nil attention once provisioned.