Performance & Verdict

Gordon Kelly

By Gordon Kelly



  • Recommended by TR


Our Score:


Software setup is similarly straightforward. Like all modern Synology NAS, the DS712 uses the DiskStaton Manager (DSM) user interface. Unlike the menu driven systems of most NAS, DSM (currently at v3.2) runs a Mac OS X-style desktop with clickable icons, pop up windows and a drag and drop interface. It also supports multitasking so you can set one command in motion, leave its window open, and move onto another task. Setting up a NAS is never child's play, but this is certainly the easiest and most intuitive system we have seen to date. A live demo of DSM can be tried here.


Once up and running the first thing to do was examine Synology's performance claims. Test the DS712 without Link Aggregation (we suspect the most common arrangement) and results are similar to many NAS we have tested with large file (4GB) read/write times averaging 57.2MB/s and 43.2MB/s. FTP speeds, as always, were better hitting 106.1MB/s download and 93.2MB/s upload which push the boundaries of the one gigabit (128MB/s) port. Naturally this drops off substantially copying small files to the NAS, which averaged 27.1MB/s read and 23MB/s write, but this is more the limitation of an HDD than that of the NAS itself. With Link Aggregation the picture changes again, the NAS is noticeably more responsive, and while this has little impact on the maximum speed of small file transfers, FTP transfers briefly hit 171MB/s before settling at 122MB/s which indicates we are enjoying the burst speed of our drives before being restricted by their maximum sustained performance.

All of which indicates that a) the DS712 is very fast, but not excessively faster than other NAS in everyday usage and b) with Link Aggregation enabled you are limited primarily by your hard drives. The consequence of this is you are future proofed, but unless you require extreme performance in niche situations and are prepared to splash out for high end hard drives or even SSDs you won't see a significant benefit.


Then again with a £399 RRP (backed up by a three year warranty) Synology isn't charging the earth for this added functionality and a Link Aggregation compatible network switch such as the ProCurve 1700-8 doesn't cost much more than £50. The DS712 also provides you with a super fast core system which can add another five drives in time using Synology's DX510 five bay expansion unit (RRP £389). This gives you a potential 21TB setup with blazing performance for around £800. Given Netgear's (still excellent) midrange, four bay ReadyNAS NVX retailed for £960 just two years ago it shows the leaps and bounds the industry has come on.

Furthermore all Synology drives enjoy extensive software support with Apple Time Machine, iTunes and WMWare compatibility and smartphone apps. There is even remote monitoring capability through a compatible camera" IP camera connected to the network. The flexibility is tremendous.


Few will take advantage of the Link Aggregation technology which gives the Synology DS712 its primary advantage. Despite this the speed benefits for those who do are extremely impressive while the build quality, DiskStation Manager user interface and wide ranging software support are first class. Ultimately casual users should stick to the company's budget friendly DS211j, but speed freaks looking to future proof their NAS without spending a small fortune will be well rewarded.

Overall Score


Scores In Detail

  • Design 8
  • Features 9
  • Usability 9
  • Value 8


October 26, 2011, 7:06 pm

>> which can add another five drives

I wondered why it had support of Raid 5/6, not really much use for a 2 drive setup.


October 26, 2011, 10:20 pm

The ProCurve 1700-8 only has one 1Gbps port and seven 100Mbps ports?!


October 27, 2011, 2:29 am

I recommend that anyone thinking of buying an NAS googles for the HP Proliant N36L.

You can find these for around £230 but there's a £100 cashback from HP if you buy before the end of October. Also advisable to add at least 4GB RAM (around £25).

I have one of these and a Synology DS410. The 410 is great as everything's set up and it can do a hell of a lot out of the box. However the CPU is too slow to do justice to the RAID array and Gigabit network. Also it's not a full OS so you're limited in what you can do on it.

The HP comes with no OS. However there's FreeNAS, which is almost a free version of the Synology software (it's unrelated but does much of the same stuff via a web interface). Or you can install Ubuntu, or Windows Server 2008 R2, or all of them using the free VMWare server software.

By the way FreeNAS can format the drives as ZFS, which in many ways is better than RAID5.

Also the CPU is far more powerful and can saturate my Gigabit network; I get double the read/write speeds I get from the 410. Well I do when FreeNAS runs directly on the machine; when running it as a VM I get half that. More tweaking may yet solve that though.

Given the price unless you really don't want to do any work yourself then I recommend getting the HP. Installing FreeNAS is pretty easy; you install it to a USB key and run it from there. There's even a USB slot inside the HP that's ideal for secreting a USB key. Setting FreeNAS up is less easy but still not rocket science.


October 27, 2011, 10:35 am

Thx Bugblatter for that information. Will look into the HP !


October 27, 2011, 3:02 pm

Because it can be expanded with the DX510 to make a 7-bay NAS server....

Carl Abudephane

October 28, 2011, 2:03 am

This gives you a potential 21TB setup with blazing performance for around £800

Isn't the key word here 'potential'?
£800 buys you the empty units, NOT a 21TB set-up. How much would an ACTUAL 21TB set-up cost, after filling these with seven 3TB drives?

Just wondrin' is all - if £800 bought me an actual 21TB set-up then I'm there in minutes handing over the cash. I can afford the potential set-up, not so sure about the actual one. 3TB drives(quality ones certainly)aren't exactly cheap are they?


October 28, 2011, 1:33 pm

I found that the HP ProCurve 1810-8G has eight 1Gbps and supports "four trunks of four links each" and costs about £112 incl. VAT.


October 28, 2011, 1:43 pm

@Stexo9990: Did you actually read my reply :), especially the bit were I do the quoting.


October 28, 2011, 11:47 pm

If you look around, especially on ebay, you can get a 3TB drive for around £100.

Your best bang for the buck is currently 2TB drives.

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