Last month we took a look at the Synology DiskStation DS211j, a superb two bay NAS which brought networked storage to the masses. Now Synology is trying to overhaul the performance sector too…
Like the DS211j, the 'Synology DiskStation DS712 ' is a two bay NAS server, but it is a radically different beast. The key feature is speed. Synology claims files can be transferred at over 180 megabytes per second and written at over 105Mbit. As sharp eyed readers will note, this is faster than a gigabit LAN connection so Link Aggregation (aka bonding two gigabit LAN connections together} is required to hit full speed. Needless to say, for the vast majority, this will mean NAS performance far in excess of anything they have seen to date.
To make such mighty claims the DS712 is kitted out with an Intel Atom 1.8GHz CPU and a full gigabyte of RAM (specs which seem closer to a netbook than a NAS). It also supports 3TB drives, sports USB 2.0 and eSATA ports for connecting external HDDs and – needless to say – is equipped with x2 gigabit ports with Link Aggregation. Note you will still need Link Aggregation at your router, typically provided by a separate network switch (such as the D-Link DGS-1224T), but compliance with the 802.3ad industry standard is all that is required to ensure compatibility. In place Link Aggregation doubles gigabit performance to 2Gbps (256MB/s).
Despite this horsepower, the DS712 isn't much bigger than the budget friendly DS211j measuring just 157 x 103.5 x 232 mm and weighing 1.69Kg. Power draw is higher though at 27.5W when active and 17.6W in standby compared to 23W and 11W for its baby brother making for an immediate trade off. On the plus side operation is living room quiet at 19.2dB, but unless you install whisper quiet drives (or for the extremely well heeled, SSDs) cumulative noise levels mean the DS712 is best kept out of sight. This isn't to say the NAS would look out of place on display, however, the tasteful matt black finish is combined with excellent build quality and looks better than most AV equipment. Kept in a convenient location, the front loading drive bays also allow for easy HDD access and each bay can be locked to secure it against prying hands.
So what about setup? The DS712 has options galore. Drives attach to rails which slide in, locking into place and once inside JBOD, RAID 0, RAID 1, RAID 5, RAID 5 Spare, RAID 6 and RAID 10 compatibility mean there are a virtually limitless array of storage configurations. That said the majority will use Synology's Hybrid RAID, which allows drives to be hot swapped with the array automatically rebuilt to support a larger capacity. D-Link has been providing a similar feature for years courtesy of its X-RAID proprietary technology, but seeing it here is no less welcome.