Saturday, 20 February 2010

Synology DS710+ NAS Mini-Review

After owning a Synology CS407 4-bay NAS box for around 2 and a half years, i felt its performance was no longer quick enough for my needs, so i've upgraded to the new 2-bay Synology DS710+ model.

I had 4 x 320gb Samsung Spinpoints in the CS407 in a RAID-5 config giving me 876gb of usable storage. (after synology code and usual formatting losses)

The CS407's read speeds of 25MB/sec and its write speeds of 15MB/Sec just don't lend themselves to the "instant access" nature of the things i've got on there now. (Mac iPhoto database for one).

The CS407 speeds are great for streaming as even full Blu-Ray uses only around 5MB/sec bandwidth and 1080p mkv rips as low as 1.5MB/sec, but its starting to show its age.

Synology quote over 100MB/sec both read and write in a RAID 1 config for DS710+, so i was eager to see how close I could get to these right out of the box.

These speeds increases are due to the 1.67ghz Intel Atom CPU and 1GB ram in the DS710+.
By comparison, the CS407 had just a 500mhz Marvell CPU and 128MB ram.

Complete specs from the CS407 and DS710+ can be found here:

For more information on NAS Basics and Media Streaming Requirements, why not check out my "sticky" over at AVForums:

For info, my network infrastructure is full gig-ethernet (GigE) comprising of the following:

Custom Built 2.0ghz E4400 Core2Duo, 2gb ram PC with onboard Realtek RLT8168B GigE network card and 500gb Samsung Spinpoint F1 hard disk running Windows 7.
Mac Mini (CoreDuo 1.83ghz), 2gb ram with onboard Marvell Yukon 88E8053 GigE network Card running Snow Leopard
Netgear GS605 unmanaged GigE switch (used as the main connectivity hub)
Linksys WRT54GL router (for internet access and DHCP)
New Synology DS710+ NAS

Apple TV
Netgear GS605 unmanaged GigE switch

All connected using a combination of cat 5e and cat 6 cabling.

Opening the Box
Always a nice feeling when the shiny new kit arrives.

I had to order a 2nd Samsung F3 (xxxxx) as I already had one.

Inside the Box
Power Supply
Cat5e Ethernet cable
Pack of screws
Install CD

Pretty sparse really, but the norm these days.

What i really liked about the Power Supply is that it took a normal kettle lead into it, so i didn't have to get on my hands and knees under the desk as I had one spare.

Installing the disks

The drives just sit in the caddy and are screwed in place with the included screws.

The SATA power and data connectors on the drives lineup to the connectors in the DS710.

Round the Back

The drives then slide and clip into place.

Also on the back we have
2 x USB (for connecting printers, external drives, cameras etc)
1 x GigE
1 x Power
1 x eSATA (for connecting external drives)

Once powered up, the set-up was pretty painless using the Synology assistant from the CD. Although I did have problems with Zonealarm Firewall blocking the assistant from finding both old and new Synology units on my network.

Set-up allows you assign manual IP or DHCP settings, name the unit on the network and thats about it for staters. It installs the Synology OS onto the drives and sets itself up from the firmware you choose from the CD and asks you for an administrator password.

Once that stage is complete you can log into the familiair Disk Station Manager (DSM).

From here you can set everything up. I started by creating a Storage Volume using the 2 x 1tb Samsung F3 drives. You get the choice of either or both drives, and then the raid type you want.
I decided to choose RAID-1 (mirroring) using the full amount of space available to me, which was 931GB. Again, always some loss due to the Synology OS and usual formatting reduction.

Off the Synology went to format the drives and create the partition on them.

WARNING: This process then took 3hrs 19mins to complete.
I imagine the creation time depends on the size of the volume being created. Thankfully, this a one-off task for me.

Once this was complete, I created some Shared Folders. (instant creation and usage)


On the old NAS i just had one or two shared folders, but i've decided to split things up a bit more this time round.
Whether this turns out to be a good move, only time will tell. But its something I can change later if it doesn't work out.

Performance Tests

NOTE: I did these performance tests over 2 runs. The reasons for that was in the first run I ran everything straight out the box (Blue on the graphs). After posting the original blog, a representative from Synology contacted me offering to help me get the best of my new NAS, so subsequent tests were made after contact with them (Orange on the graphs)

One of the 1st things Synology asked me to do was to confirm that the NAS could read and write to the disks in the DS710+ at a decent rate.

They asked me to run the following to determine raw disk rates.

If you ssh or telnet onto the nas (you'll have to enable either in DSM) you can run the following commands.

This creates a 1gb file - makes sure you change /volume1/public to an area that exists. (and you've got 1gb free)
time dd if=/dev/zero of=/volume1/public/aaa bs=64k count=16384

When complete, divide 1024 by the "real" time figure, this will show you the MB/sec.

The same for the reads:
time dd if=/volume1/public/aaa of=/dev/null

note: just change the directory/file reference to match what you created above.
note2: the above commands can be run on ANY Synology NAS to check raw disk performance.

I'm getting around 100MB/sec reads and 75MB/sec writes from my 2 x Samsung F3's in RAID1.
Synology advised me that because my 1tb volume is around 90% full, 75MB/sec writes are to be expected. They proved this by sending back their figures for the same drives in a DS710+.

So that is one thing to bear in mind. Fuller volumes can perform slower than empty ones. I suppose my scenario is more real life than an empty NAS?

My PC's limitations

My Main PC is a 2.0ghz Dual Core box with 2gb RAM running Windows 7. The hard disk is a 500gb Samsung F1 with an average/read write speed of around 75MB/sec (thanks to Toms Hardware lists for this).

Obviously, any file or FTP copies to or from the Samsung drive would be limited to the speed of this drive. So with that in mind I set up a RAMDisk on the PC to try and gauge max performance.

I used a free version of Datagram RamDisk (free under 4gb) and set up a 1gb ram disk under Windows 7.

FTP (Windows 7 and Mac Mini (Snow Leopard))

Straight from command line on the PC and Mac to the Synology, results from the FTP summary once completed. I also used FileZilla on the PC with the same results.

As you can see, the local hard disk on the PC limited the speed onto the NAS box, although the larger file seemed to fair better. Best performance came from the RAMDisk as we nearly reached 100MB/sec.

I was only able to copy the smaller iso file (656mb) as I only created a 1gb RAMDisk due to lack of memory in my machine.

Initial tests (highlighted in blue), we undertaken with the NAS straight out of the box with everything at default. This meant jumbo frames were disabled on both the PC, Mac and the DS710+.

For secondary tests (highlighted in orange), i set jumbo frames at 7k on all devices. (7k was the highest I could choose on the Realtek network card, so this dictated the maximum across the other two devices)

As you can see, pulling files from the DS710+ to the PC jumped from 62MB/sec to 96MB/sec after switching on Jumbo Frames. (READS)

And coming back the other way jumped from 96MB/sec to 107MB/sec. (WRITES)

Windows Copy (PC to DS710+)

Less scientific this one, stopwatch at the ready and started the copy. Hit stop when it was done.

Windows to DS710+ were unaffected by the Jumbo frames change. The 75MB/sec bottleneck seen is obviously the local drives limite as copying from the RAMDisk smashed 100MB/sec.

Windows Copy (DS710+ to PC)

As you can see here with the blue lines, we had big problems with the READ rates from the DS710+ to the Windows Box with standard 1.5k frames. We only managed to get 47MB/sec until we changed th 7k Jumbo Frames when things sprang into life and we reached 96MB/sec.

Mac File Copy

Again, not very scientific as I got the stop-watch out again.

The copy to the DS710+ was worse on the Mac than the PC reaching only 61MB/sec and 71MB/sec even after Jumbo frames were introdcued.

I'm wondering if the lower spec of the Mac Mini or maybe Apple's implemtation of Samba (SMB) file sharing is to blame? Definitely one to look at there.

481MB ISO Extraction to same device

What I wanted to try here was see how the NAS performed as a "live drive". Normally we keep NAS drives solely for storage and streaming the performance doesn't allow anything else. But surely with 100MB/sec read and write we could now use it as a general drive?

Sadly, i was most disappointed with this test.

7 seconds on the RAMDisk, 22 seconds on the local hard disk, but 65 seconds to extract the ISO from the DS710+ and onto it.

Note: A no point did my CPU go above 70% during this test, so no real bottleneck.
NOTE2: Hope to revist these with Jumbo Frames.

481MB ISO Extraction (different source/destination)

Again though, writes are quicker than reads on the DS710+???

But the with the NAS apparently capable of 100MB/sec both ways, why does the extraction take double the amount of time that it does on the local hard disk?

Note: Hope to revisit these with Jumbo Frames

Conclusion and Questions to be answered?

Can it do 100MB/sec with a regular PC?
Yes, granted you need a good hard disk on the PC, but a Samsung F3 for example should do the trick.

Can it be used as "live drive"?
So far, yes, sort of. My iPhoto database on the Mac is far quicker than it used to be on the CS407.
And if you think about it, the Mac Mini's only have 2.5" drives in, so around 35MB/Sec max read/write, which the DS710+ can easily beat. But i'm yet to be convinced that a NAS drive, no matter how quick, can ever replace local disk for instant access. Theres got to be added network latency etc??? Not sure how to test this though?

Jumbo Frames required?
Certainly. Without them, there is a problem with transfer speeds.

Why does the ISO Extraction take so long when its sat on the DS710+?
Another puzzler. At the time, the CPU, Memory and Network stats on the DS710+ where really low, so no problems there. Is it that the DS710+ can't read/write quickly to the same volume?

Right, that's my little review over with.
If anyone has any questions, please leave a comment and i'll see what I can do.
Do you have any specifc tests that you think might be useful? Especially "real-life" tests.

Caveat: During my testing I have found some slightly inconsistent results as I've gone along. But I'm putting these down to the fact that in between tests I've been copying data over the new NAS, so its been filling up, (not whilst tests are running), but as we've gone along we've gone from a virtually empty NAS to 90% full NAS.

Hope you found this useful.

Cheers, Zarch


  1. I returned my DS710+ as it ran very hot, the drives ran very hot, and within a week 1 drive failed.

    I run a CS407e and a DS1010+.

  2. Just bought one too.
    Performance out of the box:
    Write to DS710+ 49MB/S
    Read from DS710+ 11 MB/S.

    With Jumbo frames and RAM disk on PC:
    Write to DS710+ 70 MB/s
    Read from DS710+ 49MB/s

    Between 2 PCs in the network with RAM drives on both machines: 49MB/s...

    The PCs are a 4GB and an 8GB 4 core machines running Vista 64bit connected with a Gb switch.

    So guess the DS710 might not be the bottleneck in my case.

    Thanks for the very helpful review.

  3. I got a DS710+, but I'm having real problems getting it to spin down the disks when idle.
    They seem to spin up again about every 10 mins....

    Any help, anyone?