Is the Synology RS820+ the Affordable RackMount Solution You Need in 2020?
When it comes to business storage, one company that has really turned things around in the last two years is Synology NAS. With their award-winning software platform and an impressive range of NAS hardware, it is strange to think that not so long ago they were having difficulty holding on tight to the business market. A lot of this difficulty stemmed from the brand producing hardware that lacked the power and ability of their rivals QNAP. Synology has always been a brand with a priority on software, producing many, many first-party applications that compare very well with well established third-party apps. But the problem was that most users wanted to use their own software and this left a NAS as little more than a basic file server – and in that realm, power is important! Fast forward to the end of 2019 and two things have really changed. The Synology software has become both acceptable and very desirable to business users, and we have seen some genuine hardware innovation from the brand in the last 12-18 months – however the RS820+ seems to tread water a little and when I first saw the specifications, left me a tad underwhelmed. Today I want to review the Synology RS820+, as this device serves as a fantastic middle ground for those who need a great NAS server on a modest budget. Arriving at around £800+ and with 4 bays of storage, this NAS sits comfortably for buyers in hardware vs software, but is it any good? Let’s find out.
4-Bay Rackmount NAS, Intel C3538 2.1Ghz 4-Core CPU, 2/18GB DDR4 Memory, 4 1Gbe LAN, Expandable to 8-Bays with RX818, 1x PCIe Gen x8 Slot – £799 ex.VAT
The Synology RS820+ NAS really does give you a whole host of options for your home and business needs when it comes to how you store your data, where you store your data and how safe your data is. With security measures such as RAID protection, AES-NI 256bit encryption, the BTRFS file platform for easy storage snapshots and background file integrity checks on all Read/Write operations and user account control with two-step verification for all of your hundreds of connected users, this NAS gives you so much for just over £800. That said, Synology has been using this hardware architecture for a long enough time now that there isn’t a vast amount available here that is not available in multiple of the current generation of Synology NAS at this price point. It serves as a minor increase of the RS818+ and in many ways only serves to highlight that though Synology are the top of the pack at NAS software, they are still flexing their muscles in the middle of business sectors. The RS820+ is certainly reliable and does what it promises – it jsut isn’t a hugely exciting NAS in the grand scheme of things and there are better solutions out there for jsut a few hundred pounds more.
The Synology RS820+ RackStation NAS – Design
Once we unboxed this rackmount NAS, we found that the accessories were few but important.
Inside the (remarkably small – for a rackmount) retail box we find a UK mains lead, screws for hard drives and SSD, keys for the hard drive trays and a first-time instruction manual. This also includes details regarding the 3 years manufacturer’s warranty that the RS820+ arrives with. Additionally, there is an angled power cable extension for if you want to install this rackstation NAS in a regular depth rack cabinet and are worried about the distance from a power source or UPS.
Once we have the unit unboxed, we took a good look at the front of the device and those 4 hard drive bays.
Each bay supports both hard drives and SSD, supporting the very latest 14TB WD Red and 16TB Seagate Ironwolf hard drives (as well as the new WD Red SA500 and Seagate Ironwolf 110 SSDs). The internal hardware (that we will talk about later) also support multiple raid configurations from RAID 0 to Raid 5 and RAID 6 (and more), as well as Synology Hybrid RAID. Additionally, this device does not need to be fully populated in order to function and in fact can run on a single hard drive leaving you to add drives as and when you need them.
Each hard drive tray is metal in design, requiring each drive to be screwed in with four supplied screws.
Additionally, each tray has an LED light to denote drive health and can be locked individually to ensure it is not removed in error.
One corner of the front of the Synology RS820+ NAS shows us both the power button and I expected to see the familiar mute button, for when the system has alerts and more audio output, but it is not featured on this device.
The other corner is a touch more underwhelming and merely shows the model ID and no further USB ports. As this is a rackmount device, it is not designed to be pretty. In previous Synology RackStation NAS (such as the RS1619xs+ or RS3618xs+) we would find a button located on either side of the full-length chassis that lets us lift a small internal compartment that contained removable internal fans. These supply valuable active cooling to the hard drives to bolster productivity and speed, as well as mean they are removable for cleaning. In order to maintain the half depth nature of the RS820+, they have removed this functionality (as it is both unneeded and space consuming). We will take a good look inside this NAS in a bit, don’t worry.
The Synology RS820+ RackStation NAS – Ports and Connections
At the rear of the device, we find both a large amount of ventilation and a large variety of connections and ports, to take advantage of all of that RAID ready storage.
The PSU on this device is a single 150W power supplier, that is located in a discreet corner of the RS820+ NAS. Additionally, there is a redundant PSU version of this NAS known as the RS820RP+.
Regarding ports, we find a com port (not VGA – I made that mistake before!) that let us integrate the Synology RS820+ NAS with existing hardware systems in your storage environment (security or older storage systems).
Next, we find four 1GB LAN ports (RJ45 based) for network and internet connectivity, that can be linked aggregated (port trunked) in order to effectively quadruple the upload and download speeds to this NAS device. Do remember that you will need computer connected devices to have multiple LAN ports in order to also enjoy this speed.
Alternatively, connect the NAS via 4 LAN to a switch to ensure that more 1Gbe connected devices get the best possible speed from their connection at the same time.
We find additional USB ports that let us add external storage to the RS820+ NAS device. These can be used to connect portable storage and back them up to the Synology, or to back up the contents of a file, folder or volume on the NAS to an external drive, or just to make a standard USB drive network access to your users. All this can be actioned in an ad hoc fashion or set up default actions for when a drive is connected.
Continuing with the theme of adding space, additionally around the impressive amount of ventilation on this device, we find an expansion port that allows us to connect an official Synology expansion rackmount chassis and add a further 4-Bays of storage to our existing 8 bays. Once this storage is connected, you have the option of adding it to your existing RAID array on the RS820+ (Also letting you change your RAID to adapt to this storage increase), alternatively you can set it as a completely new RAID enabled Volume for network access or (commonly) use it as a backup for the primary storage volume.
Finally, on the rear, we find an available PCIe expansion slot. With this slot, we are able to introduce a plethora of supported first and third-party PCIe cards such as the newly available M2D18 NVMe/SATA SSD Cache card or the brand new 10Gbe E10G18-T1 and E10G18-T2 upgrade cards from Synology available in 1 and 2 Ports. Until recently, if you wanted to take advantage of BOTH 10Gbe and NVMe SSD caching, you were unable to do this, as there were only available as separate cards. However, later in 2020 we will see the release of the E10M20-T1 Combination card that arrives with a 10GBASE-T port and twin NVMe SSD bays, on a single PCIE Gen 3 card.
The Synology RS820+ RackStation NAS – Internal Hardware
If we remove the screw located on the rear of this Synology RS820+ NAS, as we are able to remove the top panel and get a better look at the internal hardware of this NAS.
Inside we find a motherboard, not dissimilar to that of a desktop computer. However, in order to keep space available for all components, we find that numerous unique components available that you would not find in larger rackstation NAS.
The CPU in this device is an Intel Atom-based C3538, that features a 2.1Ghz clock speed in each of its 4 cores. Which means it can handle everything from multimedia (Synology Apps and Plex), Virtual Machines, Fast and intuitive file management, large scale backups and network surveillance. It is worth noting however that 4K transcoding is not supported and playback of 4K, in general, will push this CPU pretty hard, so if you are considering using the RS820+ largely for media, then you would be recommended to look at the Synology DS918+ Desktop NAS or MUCH more expensive RS1619xs+ Rackstaiton NAS – However, with it’s near £2000+ price tag, you should consider your options and budget with care.
This is further supported by 2GB of DDR4 memory that can be expanded up to 18GB over multiple slots. You will need to consider upgrading this device to at least 4/8GB if you want to use my graphically enabled applications or expanding the number of connected users to 99+. However, I would be lying if I said I wasn’t a little confused by that 18GB Maximum memory. This consists of a 2GB DDR4 Memory module secluded on the opposite side of the RS820+ motherboard that is virtually inaccessible, and an empty SO-DIMM slot that can occupy upto a 16GB module. Generally, it is frowned upon to mix memory capacities, but it is not the end of the world.
All the Synology RS820+ NAS internal components are very well laid out and you can see that a lot of work has gone into maximizing all available space, whilst still ensuring that parts aren’t too close to generate too much heat/vibration. Noise levels have been rated at 27dB(A) whilst in operation and power consumption recorded at an average 37.94W whilst in access and 20.96W whilst in standby/hibernation.
Finally, we find the PCIe slot which on this device is the real deal-breaker for those looking at a rackmount NAS that can be upgraded at a later date. The slot, which is a PCIe Gen x8, can occupy multiple official upgrade cards from Synology, as well as multiple third party cards from Mellanox and Intel. Just remember that the CPU inside the RS820+ may act as a performance bottleneck later on.
The Synology RS820+ RackStation NAS – Software
The Synology RS820+ arrives with the latest version of diskstation manager. This software arrives with literally hundreds of applications covering both first and third party requirements, so this NAS can handle numerous utilities for the home and business environment ranging from:
Multiple Backup options
VMware and VM Control Support
Windows Server Support
Docker Container Support
Plex Media Server
Free Sugar CRM
Numerous CMS option
Numerous Content Management systems
Multiple third-party cloud migration tools with Dropbox, Google Drive and more
Alongside these, there are also numerous Synology Busines applications that mirror many of those third-party applications that businesses use right now. It is with these applications that Synology compete in NAS and over the last 2 years have succeeded very well. these apps are:
Synology Active Backup Suite is the license-free one portal, full environment backup software
Synology Active Directory for control and access on a large scale with other systems
Synology Surveillance Station for enterprise-level CCTV and NVR environments, with 2 Camera licenses included with your purchase
Synology Chat the alternative to Skype communication in your office and internet environment
Synology Office an alternative to both Microsoft Office applications and Google Docs
Synology Calendar serving as an alternative to Google Calendar and the Microsoft calendar application
Synology Drive that serves as a NAS based alternative to the third party cloud apps Dropbox Amazon S3 and Google Drive
Synology Moments, the photo cataloguing and facial recognition software that arrived with its own AI component serving as an alternative to Google Photos, Picasa and Facebook albums
Synology Virtual Machine manager, which serves as a virtual machine deployment tool to rival that of Windows and VMware applications
The Synology RS820+ RackStation NAS – Conclusion
The Synology RS820+ NAS really does give you a whole host of options for your home and business needs when it comes to how you store your data, where you store your data and how safe your data is. With security measures such as RAID protection, AES-NI 256bit encryption, the BTRFS file platform for easy storage snapshots and background file integrity checks on all Read/Write operations and user account control with two-step verification for all of your hundreds of connected users, this NAS gives you so much for just over £800. That said, Synology has been using this hardware architecture for a long enough time now that there isn’t a vast amount available here that is not available in multiple of the current generation of Synology NAS at this price point. It serves as a minor increase of the RS818+ and in many ways only serves to highlight that though Synology are the top of the pack at NAS software, they are still flexing their muscles in the middle of business sectors. The RS820+ is certainly reliable and does what it promises – it just isn’t a hugely exciting NAS in the grand scheme of things and there are better solutions out there for just a few hundred pounds more.
Compact and Half Depth chassis
Fantastic 1st Party Apps
Reliable internal hardware for business users
SHR and BTRFS
Supports multiple RAID levels and separate volumes
Connectivity with host PCs
Upgradable RAM and PCIe slots.
Single PCIe slot – limits potential
Modest Intel C3000 Atom CPU
No 10GBe Option, seperate Upgrade
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