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Wednesday, 29 May 2013 15:25

Synology DS1513+ Review Part I - Intro and Teardown Featured

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Storage is something that everyone needs. No matter if you are a single end user or a gigantic corporation you have to have a place to keep your data. This one little fact has never changed and probably never will. The difference is that home users are now higher on the scale when it comes to storage needs than many small and medium sized business. Home users are maintain more and more data in the form of movies, music pictures and even installation files while many small businesses are only storing simple documents and perhaps a few databases.  It has changed the dynamic in the way storage products are marketed in many ways and this is not truly a completely good thing. While a normal consumer might store more information than a small business they do not have the same need to never be offline or unavailable. The typical home user also does not have the same number of connections to their data as a medium or even small business. There needs to be a class of NAS that can handle these requirements without pushing the price tag over the top. Synology has a very solid answer for these questions and more all bundled up inside the new DS1513+; this is a five-bay NAS that includes four 1Gbps LAN and a ton of other features. Let’s dive in and take a look shall we?


The Box and Goodies -
Like other Synology products the box that the DS1513+ ships in is fairly plain. It looks like they print all of their boxes at one time and differentiate them through the use of product stickers. This is a good way to save money on the packaging without compromising on its quality. Inside the box the DS1513+ is secure for shipping. Synology have put it inside a thick bag and then inside two large dense foam pads.
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After you pull everything out will find almost everything you need to get your DS1513+ running. The exceptions are you only get two Cat 5 cables and there is no utilities disk. You will need to hard over to Synology’s website to grab the installation utility so you can identify and configure the DS1513+ on your network. The lack of this disk is not a big concern as many companies are moving away from install DVDs in products like this. By removing this it helps reduce overall costs and also ensures that customers are getting the latest version of any drivers or utilities. Synology included a welcome card that includes the URL to find and configure your DS1513+ (find.synology.com) what to do if you do not have outside internet connectivity.

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The Synology DS1513+ -
The Synology DS1513+ is a very similar product to the DS1512+ with some very nice upgrades and a bit more powerful engine inside. It is a five-bay network attached storage device and can handle SATA 3.0 drives up to 4TB in size. The DS1513+ can also work with the DX513 to dynamically expand its capacity. You can connect tow of these bringing the total number of bays up to 15 and the maximum raw capacity up to 60TB. The DS1513+ also runs on Synology’s Disk Station Manager OS which is a stable and solid product.
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The DS1513+ has some pretty big differences along with a few minor ones. These differences make the DS1513+ a very impressive product for the market and price point it is aimed at.
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One of the first things that we noticed is that Synology has moved away from the using glossy plastic for the front bezel. The DS1513+ has moved to a matte material that will help to resist fingerprints and should also help with dust build up. Synology also moved the power button to the middle of the unit which is an interesting choice, but not a bad one.

The drive bays still lock, unlock and open in the same manner that they did on the DS1512+, but now you can install 3.5-inch drives without the use of screws. Synology dropped in snap in mounts to make things easier for you to install and remove drives. You can still hard mount drives if you want though and will have to hard mount any 2.5-inch drives you use.

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The DS1513+ still uses plastic rails for the drives to slide into. This makes the drives easier to slide in and out and also offers reduced vibration in the unit (which means less noise and heat). The vertical orientation of the bays helps to keep things cool across all of your installed drives.
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Speaking of cooling Synology has a pretty stylish way of venting the system on the sides. They have cut out the company name on both sides and put a mesh behind it. This allows for pretty good airflow while keeping out a lot of the dust that can get in a system. Air flow is maintained by two Y.S. Tech fans on the back that pull air through the system. These are easy to remove for cleaning and replace if needed.

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Of course the fans on the back of the DS1513+ are the least interesting part of it. As you might have noticed there are four 1Gbe Network ports. This is an awesome feature that lets you balance performance and failover. You can break the ports up into groups and still maintain high-throughput. The DS1513+ also supports High Availability when combined with another DS1513+ which we will be looking into in the second half of our review. Other items on the back include four USB 2.0 ports, 2 USB 3.0 ports and two eSATA ports that are also used for expansion with Synology’s DX513. Using these you can expand the DS1513+ up to 15 bays or 60TB of raw storage space.
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After our walk around of the outside we decided to strip off the cover and dive into what makes the DS1513+ tick. We found a construction similar to the DS1512+ with some subtle differences. Synology has moved to a new motherboard due to some of the additional components like the four 1Gbe ports. This has moved some of the components around, but for the most part the quality of the system is still very good. We were not able to get the chipset heat sink off this time as it was glued on, but we did get a chance to look at the Atom CPU on the board, but could not identify which one it is by sight.  While we do not have confirmation from Synology yet we suspect that this is a CedarTrail Atom (D2500 or 2700) with an IHC10R chipset. We will update you once we have confirmation. We do have confirmtion on the CPU, it is a D2700 Atom running at 2.13GHz which is pretty much what we expected.

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The motherboard supports up to 4GB of memory although from what we are hearing the DSM (Disk Station Manager) OS will only address 3GB *** Correction Synology has said that the DSM software will address 4GB of RAM without issue, it was only a 3GB limitation on the DS1512+.***. Synology does say that they are looking into changing this to give better access to memory, but right now most Atom CPUs can only address 4GB of memory so there is no rush until the next generation Atom CPUs come out or if Synology make a big move and switches to AMD’s new Opteron X SoC.  

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The DS1513+’s motherboard has two PCIe slots; an x1 and x4. One runs the backplane for SATA connectivity and the other is for the USB 3.0 and eSATA ports. The part that keeps all of this together and running like a single unit is the DOM. Here is where the Firmware (OS) sits and is also what turns a “PC” into something that resembles traditional hardware RAID. The DOM that shipped with our DS1513+ shows that it is loaded with DSM 4.1, but Synology is likely to have upgraded the OS before shipping it out so that we will have access to the new features in DSM 4.2.
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Powering all of this is a Delta PSU, this is a departure from the Seasonic PSU we saw in the DS1512+, but it is still a solid PSU. You are getting 250 Watts of total output with 17 Amps on the 12Volt rail and 12Amps on the 5Volt. This should be enough to keep things going even under heavy read/write operations.
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Synology has done a good job in putting the DS1513+ together with what appears to be quality components and a solid design. You can check out our video coverage for a deeper look into the tear down of the DS1513+
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Conclusion –
Synology’s DS1513+ is a nicely designed and build piece of hardware. It brings a few very solid features to the table that are missing from this particular segment of the market. By including 4 Gigabit ports on the DS1513+ Synology is giving you the option to have both speed and redundancy. You do not have to make the choice between one or the other like you do on traditional two-port NAS devices. This is sure to fill in a need at the upper end of the business market where companies are looking to combine price, performance and uptime. By adding in the option for High Availability, Redundant network connections and exceptional expandability they are building a winning combination in the DS1513+. From a design and build standpoint the DS1513+ is one of the better products we have worked with. Now it we get to dive into the performance and see if the DS1513+ can keep up. In addition to our normal testing we also will be performing specific HA tests and including the second DS1513+ that Synology sent to us just for this purpose. It is going to be fun to try all of the features out to see what works and what does not. We can’t wait to get into this so we can bring our findings to you.

Check out how the DS1513+ performs here

What do you think about the Synology DS1513+? Tell us in our Forum

Read 39234 times Last modified on Sunday, 22 December 2013 14:46