Synology RS217 Two-Bay RackStation Review

Synology's RS217 two-bay RackStation rack mount storage device is one to consider for home users.

Published Fri, Jan 5 2018 9:10 AM CST   |   Updated Tue, Nov 3 2020 6:58 PM CST
Rating: 90%Manufacturer: Synology


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A lot of the focus over the years has been on desktop NAS appliances. Now with home labs becoming more popular many of you and even myself have shown interest in rackmount solutions as they have the capability to save space.

The RS217 is Synology's two-bay entry-level appliance for the rackmount market. This solution features a 1U form factor built on the Marvell Armada platform offering dual-Gbe NICs capable of 221 MB/s read and 171 MB/s write utilizing link aggregation while being eco-friendly at 12.9W in hibernation and 21 watts full access.

Taking things further, Synology has taken the 1U form factor and compacted it down to 12 inches deep allowing this unit to be mounted in two-post or wall mount racks where space is at a premium. The icing on the cake comes in the form of DSM or DiskStation Manager which offers a premium desktop platform for managing your NAS with File Station, Cloud Station, and Surveillance Station to name a few.

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Hardware specifications start with the Marvell Armada 385 dual-core SoC operating at 1.33GHz paired with 512MB of DDR3. This is connected to two SATA 6Gb/s bays compatible with both 2.5" and 3.5" hard drives and SSDs. Further, we have a maximum appliance capacity at 24TB using 12TB drives, and a single volume capacity of 16TB all while being hot swappable.

On the LAN side, we have two Gbe NICs supporting link aggregation and failover while additional connectivity comes in the form of a single USB 2.0 port, dual USB 3.0 ports, and a single eSATA port.

File System support includes EXT4 for internal drives while externally you can use EXT3 and 4, FAT and NTFS. exFAT is supported by purchasing the package in-app center and HFS+ is only supported up to 2TB read only.

The MSRP for the Synology RackStation RS217 comes in at $469.99 with a three-year warranty.

The Synology RS217

Packaging and a Closer Look

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Following Synology trends, the packaging is still the brown box and a sticker to the right. This sticker houses all the necessary information along the bottom including the model and submodel at the top left.

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In the box, we have the power cable, rack mount hardware, and power cord.

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The top left houses the status LEDs and power button, below we have locking drive trays with model identification centered to the Synology logo on the right.

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The backside is a little busy with power input on the left followed by three cooling fans spaced for each bank internally. In between fans, we have eSATA, dual LAN and USB 3.0.

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Drive trays are metal with this unit without any of the tool-less features.

Test System Setup and Management

Test System Setup

Tyler's NAS Test System Specifications

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The Synology Assistant aides in setting up our appliance. Once installed, this application will search your Network for any Synology NAS and start the setup process.

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DSM setup takes around 5-10 minutes. It will ask a few questions about location and what packages you want to be installed and then commences those changes.

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The package center has a solid number of offerings including Synology's own apps seen above to the right.

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Control Panel includes options for managing users and groups and even shared folders. You get connectivity options with network manager and wireless options if you happen to be using a WLAN adapter. Hardware and power along with indexing and external device manager are available near the bottom and all NAS updates can be managed via the update and restore links.

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Storage Manager gives you volume and disk group access. iSCSI is also made available to this menu as is SSD cache and Hot Spare.

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One new feature of Synology appliances is IronWolf Health Manager. If you are using Synology drives, you should see the logo show up next to your drives as seen above.

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With IronWolf drives, you can schedule drive tests within DSM storage manager keeping you up to date on your drives health.

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Further, you can purchase a recovery plan from Seagate should any of your drives ever fail.

Benchmarks – Single Client Throughput


HD Video Play - 720p HD stream from Windows Media Player, 256kB reads

2HD Video Play - 2x playback

4HD Video Play - 4x playback

HD Video Record - 720p HD stream, 256kB writes

File Copy From NAS - 4GB file copy, 64kB reads

File Copy To NAS - 64kB writes

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I tested the RS217 with 10TB IronWolf HDDs and 120GB BP5e SSDs. The SSDs show what the NAS is capable of while the hard drives give you an idea of the performance you will get in a normal use case.

As you can see with single client testing, video playback peaks at 102 MB/s with SSDs while the IronWolf drives aren't far behind at 96 MB/s. Moving through the results, we see all drives perform the same with content creation and backup workloads while file copy doesn't see much benefit from SSDs at all.

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Since this is a two-bay unit and the first we have had on this new test system, it stands alone in the chart for now. Testing SSD vs. HDD on the RS217 we see a peak of 120 MB/s for both RAID 0 and 1 with the SSDs while RAID 0 HDDs hit 100 MB/s and RAID 1 only 37 MB/s.

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Looking at write performance, SSDs performed around 110 MB/s for RAID 0 and 100 MB/s RAID 1. HDDs, on the other hand, topped 118 MB/s RAID 0 and 50 MB/s RAID 1.

Benchmarks – Mixed Workloads

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SSDs stretch their legs with mixed workloads. In Database and the RS217, we see a peak of 3500 IOPS with SSDs in RAID 0 and 2000 IOPS RAID 1. With HDDs, we reach 350 IOPS RAID 0 and 200 IOPS RAID 1.

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File Server showed better results with RAID 1 SSDs at 2600 IOPs while the HDDs peaked at 250 IOPs RAID 0.

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Again, we touched nearly 2800 IOPs with RAID 0 SSDs and 2300 IOPS RAID 1. HDDs closer to 400-450 IOPS in RAID 0 and 200 IOPS RAID 1.

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Web Server had both RAID 0 and 1 reaching near 2500 IOPS with our SSDs while the IronWolf 10TB drives chugged away at 250 IOPS in RAID 0 and 300 IOPS in RAID 1.

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Last, we have workstation typically our highest performing workload. As you can see, the SSD reached 4000 IOPS in RAID 0 and 3700 IOPS in RAID 1. The HDDs, however, are still at 350 IOPS in RAID 0 and 300IOPS in RAID 1.

Final Thoughts

I've rather enjoyed the last six or seven years reviewing NAS products watching the market and trends change. As hot as desktop NAS products are for home users, with their ability to double as PCs with some vendors, I enjoy that the entry-level market hasn't disappeared. Synology has kept true to that in their value lineup and moving into the rack station market with the two-bay RS217 is a solid step forward.

With the need for storage growing and space at a premium home, users and media enthusiast can benefit from the small form factor of a 1U rack mount solution that in today's market can provide solid performance and top-notch capacity.

Performance of the RS217 was on par with expectations and on that note, we saw solid performance from SSDs in this unit along with hard drives. For users that have a largely sequential workload like device backups, hard drives in RAID 0 are more than adequate for the RS217 to handle at full performance. RAID 1 with hard drives seemed to take a large performance hit in both sequential and mixed workloads. That said, in testing, we found our RAID 0 HDD array to reach 100- 120 MB/s read and write while mixed workloads offered between 250- 500 IOPS.

Users working with mixed workloads even in this two-bay entry-level solution can benefit significantly by using SSDs. Of course, you will want to make sure any drives you use in this system are supported by Synology, but in testing, we saw a near 10x performance increase using a single Gbe ethernet connection.

Of course, as with all Synology appliances, you get DiskStation Manager which really completes the package and while it's not perfect and does have the occasional bug, the blend of features you get along with package access and steady updates make this my favorite platform at this point.

TweakTown award

The Bottom Line: Synology's RS217 isn't the best performing two-bay rack mount, but it does offer a solid amount of features and performance for its given price point.

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Growing up in a small farm town, tech wasn't around, unless it was in a tractor. At an early age, Tyler's parents brought home their first PC. Tyler was hooked and learned what it meant to format a HDD, spending many nights reinstalling Windows 95. Tyler's love and enthusiast nature always kept his PC nearby. Eager to get deeper into tech, he started reviewing.

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