[REVIEW] Synology DiskStation DS1513+

[REVIEW] Synology DiskStation DS1513+ - AkihabaraNews.com

Contributor Ike Leus is a long-time AkihabaraNews.com reviewer.

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Introduction
It’s been a while since we last got to test a new Synology unit. No need for despair, today we got our hand on their latest iteration of their 5-bay series a.k.a the DS1513+ . We honestly never tested its precedessors (being the DS1512 and DS1511) so we’ll start with a clean slate on this DS1513 and tell you what we liked and didn’t quite fancy about their new black box.

The DS1513+ is placed between the Synology DS412+ (4-bay) and DS1813 (8-bay) units. This 5-bay is a purebred SMB unit in about every way you could look at it, featuring all the bells and whitles a modern-day small to medium sized enterprise could ask for. Assembled with 4 Gigabit LAN connections, 2 SuperSpeed USB3.0 ports, 4 regular USB2.0 ports, 2 Esata ports and capable of holding 20TB of data (5x 4TB).. …well make that “up to 60TB” in case you use the 2 Esata ports to plug in the optionally available 5-bay expansion units (DX513), it sure isn’t a little kitty.

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Synology’s DS1513+ key features:

  • 202.34 MB/sec Writing, 350.94MB/sec Reading
  • Four LAN Ports with Link Aggregation Support
  • Scale Up to 60TB with Synology DX513
  • Expandable RAM Module (Up to 4GB)
  • CPU Passive Cooling Technology & System Fan Redundancy
  • VMware®, Citrix®, Microsoft® Hyper-V® Ready
  • High Availability and Automatic Failover by SHA
  • Running on Synology DiskStation Manager (DSM)

Synology is aiming for the budget minded SMB users who put cost-efficiency and high performance on top of their requirements list. That said, on paper it cranks up both read & write speeds, comes in the faster USB flavor, and doesn’t back down on expandability. With up to 20 surveillance cameras connectable, 5 extra disks (via DX513 unit) and all the high-end business compliancy you either love or hate (Citrix, VAAI, Hyper-V…) it looks a cracking device. Very promising!

System specs

  • CPU Frequency : Dual Core 2.13 GHz (Floating Point)
  • Memory : 1x DDR3 2GB 1066Mhz (up to 4Gb, 2x 2Gb)
  • Internal HDD/SSD : 3.5" or 2.5" SATA(II) X 2
  • Max Internal Capacity : 20TB (5X 4TB Hot Swappable HDD)
  • External: USB 3.0 Port X 2, USB 2.0 Port X 4, eSATA Port X 2
  • Internal Drive system: EXT4
  • External Drives support for EXT4, EXT3, FAT, NTFS & HFS+
  • Size (HxWxD) : 157 mm X 248 mm X 233 mm • Weight : 4.25 kg
  • LAN : 4 ports Gigabit with support for Link Aggregation
  • Wake on LAN/WAN • System Fan : 80 x 80 mm x2
     
  • Wireless Support (dongle)
  • Noise Level : 22.1 dB(A)
  • Power Recovery
  • AC Input Power Voltage : 100V to 240V AC 200W
  • Power Frequency : 50/60 Hz, Single Phase
  • Power Consumption : 51 W (Access); 25.88W (HDD Hibernation);
     
  • Operating Temperature : 5°C to 35°C (40°F to 95°F)
  • Storage Temperature : -10°C to 70°C (15°F to 155°F)
  • Relative Humidity : 5% to 95% RH
  • Maximum Operating Altitude : 6,500 feet
  • Certification : FCC Class B, CE Class B, BSMI Class B
  • Warranty : 3 Years

On the software side the most notable features are:

  • Max File System Size : 108TB
  • Max iSCSI Target # : 32
  • Max iSCSI LUN # : 256
  • iSCSI LUN Clone/Snapshot
  • Supported RAID Types : Synology Hybrid RAID (SHR), Basic, JBOD, RAID 0, RAID 1
  • RAID Migration : Basic to RAID 1
  • Volume Expansion with Larger HDDs : Synology Hybrid RAID, RAID 1
  • Synology Expansion Unit Support : DX513/DX213 (supports RAID-5, 6 and 10 with hot spares)
     
  • Max User Accounts : 2048
  • Max Groups : 256
  • Max Shared Folder : 256 • Max Shared Folder Sync Tasks : 8
  • Max Concurrent CIFS/AFP/FTP Connections : 512
  • Windows Access Control List (ACL) Integration
  • VMware vSphere 4 and 5 with VAAI
  • Windows Server 2008 and 2012
  • Citrix Ready

The full specifications sheet is available here.

Design
The DS1513+ has a lot in familiar with its 2 predecessor (DS1512 & DS1511). Synology already had an established and very respected unit with the very first generation of their 5-bay NAS. A strong sales number worldwide based on a proven design made the company decide they shouldn’t change a winning team. Thus, the new DS1513 looks pretty much identical to its predecessors (leaving aside the few cosmetic changes).

The all-matte black-colored outer shell still consists of thin rolled steel; the front bezel is made of PVC. Everything looks well built and lives up to the business appeal. The 5 drive bays are the exact same push-tray system used for most devices from the SMB series, all very durable and of “no-nonsense” approach. A nice feature is the twist-locking mechanism, avoiding the trays to snap out in case somebody would push them. In previous models the push-trays required using the little bolts to make sure the hard drives stuck in place. With this new tray version Synology incorporated a snap (tool free) system where technically speaking you don’t need to posses a screwdriver anymore :)

On the back of the unit the blue color on the USB ports reveal the upgrade to USB 3.0 ports. The fan is a dual 80mm model; equally kept intact are the dual ESATA connectors for the expansion unit(s).

The power unit for the DS1513 is integrated in the unit. Still it is very easy to replace this unit in case it should ever fail to function properly. The power unit was made by Delta Electronics (a very reputable name in the world of reliable business supplies) and rated up to 240W, so you have an excess of juice left even after you filled up your NAS with hard drives.

Another point to mention is that the DS1513 has the same replaceable fan mounts of the new DX513 expansion unit we featured in our DS713+ review. You do need to get your screwdriver out to get the fans out, but it’s an easy task to clean out or remove the fans in case you consider this necessary.

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Acoustics
In the acoustics department the DS1513 (for a business unit) is an example of good direction. It doesn’t rattle or resonate in standby/sleep mode, which is impressive knowing this unit has a dual 80mm fan (where Synology had the space to go for the super silent 120mm models, they still took the risk and stuck to 80mm versions).

You could shave off a few decibels (standard around 22Db) by replacing them with Noctua or similar sorts of ultra silent fans who can pull the acoustics below 12Db if must. However, after trying this, we have to say that the zoom made by 5 hard drives makes it pretty much useless to replace them to a lower decibel model when the 5 hard drives are nearing 22Db by default.

You could try to fill up the internal parts of the DS1513 with resonance suppressing foam used in recording studios, combined with special silicone feet and new silicone sliders for the drive brackets… but is it really worth it spending over a 100 bucks on all this when the 5 hard drives are still going to be slightly audible? No, or at least for us the juice wasn’t worth the squeeze.

It must be said the 22 Db is silent for this type of power tool. You must keep in mind this is a small-scale enterprise storage server able to do a lot more than just functioning as a big network drive. The +4kg standard weight (make that +-6Kg when filled with hard drives) gives it a solid feel, avoiding any unnecessary rattle caused in case they would have aimed to use PVC instead of solid steel.

A word on power efficiency
Comparing the new DS1513 with the first generation DS1511 we can definitely see proper changes in power consumption. The new device uses only 50w (Access) and 26w (Hibernation) where the first generation used 68w (Access) and 30w (Hibernation).

The new DS1513 features so many speed enhancements over the whole line (more potent CPU, double the number of gigabit lanes, more & faster DDRIII SODIMM, …) making it significantly better both in performance gain and getting the ECO power reduction features cranked up.

When looking at the DX513 expansion unit (which we featured in a previous review), it’s a totally different story. On the outside it might not have had an epic design makeover, but on the inside (logic board) the improvements are vast.

The DX513 gets away with 45w where the old DX510 required 30% more “juice” to get the same errands done. Another (and more impressive) fact is the support for deep sleep, which reduces the “sleep” power draw by a whopping 900%.

  • The new DX513: 45w during operation, 2w in deep sleep mode
  • The old DX510: 59w during operation, 18w in sleep mode

Surveillance, download, and various apps
Synology has always been down with the pack when it comes to apps and availability. Actually there are already so many apps out there for your devices that its becoming increasingly hard to feature something new in every review made. We know for example that they have introduced streaming video features, however this SMB unit doesn’t have a dedicated HMDI out for that, so we’ll focus on that part for a future device.

What we can highlight for the SMB user is that the business features have been tuned up, please give this link a read

Particularly handy are the data backup & replication settings and integration with their native cloud services. Making it easier than ever to share your document in the cloud with yourself, your clients, or the people you value obtaining them in real-time.

Another great feature for Synology is the improved DSM. Installation right “out of the box” has never been this easy. With previous versions one had to download the latest DSM from their website, or use a potentially older version that came in the box (cd). Now the new system auto-detects a first-run and asks you if you’d like to install your own DSM, or use a version present by default on the NAS’s internal memory.

That’s a first for Synology. And its real easy, you just tell it to use the DSM present. After the installer has run you through the easy step-by-step configurator it will auto update to the latest DSM for you. Pretty convenient way to set everything up without losing too much time using the cd or manual DSM download.

Speed & performance
We are providing you with a simple table of file read/write actions we performed and which represents a more real world model of what users actually do with their NAS devices. These test are averages from Windows (SMB) and Apple (AFP) systems.

Description: 

1. A set of 100 HQ JPEG photos in folder
2. A bulk of 1000 itunes audio files
3. A 4GB folder containing mixed small files and folders
4. A 8GB single file archive
5. A 35GB folder with 10*3.5GB files inside
6. An 800MB single file archive
7. A 350MB episode

Test: RAID5 ( 3 disk mode)

This unit has only been tested in Raid5 as this is the most common setup for SMB usage making sure your data keeps its high availability combined with superior data protection of this RAID derivate.

Upgrading hardware
Just like most of the enterprise grade units from Synology, upgrading isn’t usually a 5 minute mission. If you just wish to add DDRIII SODIMM or replace the power unit, you can easily do this by removing the 5 little bolts on the back side of the unit and removing the outer shell. Fan replacements are easier, you don’t have to take off the shell but can just take the fan holders (4 bolts per fan) and snap them out (for cleaning or replacement) very easily.

This said, removing the logic board or power supply requires removing the back plate of the DS1513 to get proper access to the well routed cable management. In essence, if your unit is still covered by warranty and you don’t fancy the DIY approach, you’re better off just removing your hard drives and taking the unit to a Synology authorized dealer or service center.

Final verdict
Although it is hard to compare the new DS1513 with its predecessor, whom we never tested, it can be said that the new model is technically speaking a very welcome upgrade.

4 Gigabit lanes, 4 USB 2, 2 USB 3 and 2 ESATA ports are most noteworthy reasons to define the DS1513’s SMB horsepower. Expandability is king here, and it shows. You might think 4 gigabit lanes is overkill for most small enterprises, but in real life it isn’t. The extra ports just give them the possibility to get more value from their purchase. For example if you have 2 different departments, 1 PC/MAC server that needs a direct line and 1 lane to connect a network printer directly accessible via the NAS, all this is possible. Not to forget all the additional security features it brings by being able to split up multiple hubs over different lanes directly connected to the NAS, it just brings a feeling of more control, more possibilities and will definitely increase productivity.

With up to 20TB for the DS1513 (and expandable up to 60TB when adding 2 DX513 expansion units) there is plenty of headroom left for the expanding SMB. Various RAID configurations and external connectivity gives the serious admin the possibilities to define multiple virtualized servers and map them to a particular Ethernet output.

On the negative side we (for once) haven’t really found anything that particularly bugged us except for some quirks in the DSM, the units was silent, performed like clockwork, was fast in performance and returned very stable & predictable results. Which should be the definition of what most SMB users will be looking for. Although it’s a bit of an overkill to put this unit in your living room, we have to say it does make a blazing DLNA server and might be falling under your consideration if you require big data storage needs.

Synology’s DS1513 (at the time of writing) has an MSRP of 970 USD ( 726 EUR), the DX513 expansion unit comes at a MSRP of 570 USD ( 424 EUR).

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