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Review: Synology DS1515

by Parm Mann on 14 April 2015, 16:00

Tags: Synology

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Synology is fleshing out its range of SMB NAS solutions with the launch of the DS1515. Priced at £498, this five-bay unit is the latest addition to the company's Value Series range and touts a quad-core CPU, hardware encryption engine and four Gigabit Ethernet ports.

Designed as a "cost-effective storage solution for growing businesses," the DS1515 undercuts the existing DS1515+ (£640) by juggling its internal hardware. Whereas the + model is outfitted with an Intel Atom processor and expandable memory, the streamlined DS1515 carries an ARM-based processor from little-known Israeli chip manufacturer, Annapurna Labs.

Intel has long held a performance monopoly in the SMB NAS market, but ARM-based models are quickly closing the gap while lowering cost of ownership, and the DS1515 looks set to continue that trend.

The Annapurna Labs chip in question is a quad-core Alpine AL-314 clocked at 1.4GHz and touting hardware encryption engine and floating-point unit. Said CPU is paired with 2GB of DDR3 memory, and with the aid of link aggregation, Synology reckons the DS1515 can deliver read and write speeds of up to 404MB/s and 422MB/s, respectively.

Healthy numbers, and the box itself looks suitably smart. Maintaining a familiar Synology aesthetic, the all-black chassis features five lockable, hot-swappable and tool-free drive trays up front, along with a row of status LEDs and a solitary power button. Around back, you'll find two quiet-running 80mm fans, dual USB 3.0 ports, four Gigabit Ethernet ports, dual eSATA and a power connector for the integrated PSU.

Opening up the case reveals a 250W Delta Electronics 1U PSU that's easily serviceable, and not a lot else of note - the CPU and RAM are located on the inner-side of the motherboard, and neither is user-upgradeable.

Four Gigabit LAN ports with support for failover and link aggregation are chief among the DS1515's selling points, as is the promise of future expandability. Using the available eSATA ports, the NAS can be connected to two dedicated DX513 expansion units, paving the way for up to 15 bays and, with the latest 6TB drives, a potential 90TB of storage.

Synology is ticking a lot of the right boxes for any business looking to centralise a large amount of data, and yet it's the accompanying software that makes the DS1515 stand out from the crowd.

The onboard operating system, dubbed DiskStation Manager, has long been considered one of the very best (if not the best) NAS solutions and acts as Synology's best retort against those who argue it would be cheaper to build a server of their own.

Now at version 5.1, or 5.2 beta for those willing to try new things, DiskStation Manager continues to feel more refined than most of the competition and offers a feature set that's about as comprehensive as they come. For business users, some of the highlights include support for a myriad of network protocols and file systems, a wide range of backup solutions (including local, network and cloud), Windows AD integration, iSCSI target and, for the first time on a Value Series NAS, Synology High Availability cluster and SSD caching are both included as standard.

A live demo of DiskStation Manager is available at Synology.com and it's worth checking out if you're new to the world of network-attached storage.