Synology DS1520+ NAS – Should You Buy It?

Why Should You Buy the New Synology DS1520+ NAS?

As many of you are no doubt aware, there is a brand new Synology solution available to buy for those looking at a robust, affordable and Powerful 5-Bay solution. The recently revealed Synology DS1520+ NAS is a reimagining of the popular 5-bay plus series from the brand and and and pulls numerous influences from previous releases on different five bays and combines (almost) all of them into this new solution. Highly comparable to the likes of the DS1517+ and DS1019+ NAS, the DS1520+ is a great middle-ground for those of you that have been looking for a feature-rich system that is ready for photography, multimedia collections, virtual machine use and large-scale backup and surveillance for small and medium business users. So let’s take a moment and talk about whether this new NAS deserves your data. I want to tell you 5 reasons that you should buy the new Synology DS1520+ and five reasons you shouldn’t. Let get started.

5 Reasons You SHOULD Buy the Synology DS1520+ NAS drive

Here are five key reasons why the Synology DS1520+ should be your next NAS drive.

The Synology DS1520+ NAS has 4 LAN Ports

Despite this compact diskstation system being a five drive storage array, it still arrives with FOUR RJ45 1Gbe LAN port on the rear. Typically reserved for much larger Synology NAS systems in their last two series, the fact that the DS1520+ supports up to 4Gbe via link aggregation (port trunking) is a lovely bonus and particularly given the growth of the average day-to-day data size and frequency requirements in 2020. You will, of course, need to have a smart network switch in order to take advantage of link aggregation, but these have become incredibly affordable and chances are if you have more than two to three computers in your network, that you almost certainly need a managed switch anyway. 4x RJ45 Ethernet ports is a great addition to the DS1520+ and certainly separate it from the majority of similar compact diskstations in the xx20+ series from Synology.

The Synology DS1520+ NAS Arrives with 8GB of DDR4 Memory

Much like the DS1019+ NAS that came before it, the new Synology DS1520+ arrives with 8GB of memory by default, the maximum supported by this CPU chipset. Although other NAS systems that are comparable to this, such as the DS920+ and DS918+ both support upto 8GB, it is nonetheless useful that the DS1520+ arrives with 8GB of DDR4 memory by default. So, those looking at larger surveillance use, creating a central NVR system, or are looking at utilising low to mid virtual machine deployment will most certainly see the benefits of this maximum memory out of the box. Add to that the fact that a Synology 4GB official memory module costs around £80 to £90 on its own and this does increase the overall value of this device. 

The Synology DS1520+ NAS Can Be Expanded to 15 drives

Eventually, within the lifespan of any data storage product, there comes the point when the available space dwindles to nothing. NAS systems are largely dictated by the size of the hard drives and SSD you install inside, as well as compression techniques that you use and chosen RAID configuration. Most NAS systems counter this by allowing users to connect expansion devices that inject several more hard drives into the NAS architecture and the host system will then absorb that storage into the existing array, allowing all existing pathways and shared/mounted folders to maintain their address, keeping their existing pathways, eliminating access problems down the line. The Synology DS1520+ allows you to expand your storage, but even more than previously available in the DS920+ and DS1019+, by allowing you to connect two 5-bay expansion devices, each to an available eSATA Port. This allows you to store up to a maximum of 15 disks of hard drive or SSD space. Currently, the biggest hard drives you can get in summer 2020 are 16TB Seagate ironwolf NAS drives, with 18TB & 20TB NAS hard drives on the horizon. This means when fully populated and not factoring in a RAID configuration; the Synology DS1520+ NAS allows up to an astounding 240 Terabytes of storage possible with the system and expansions. That is frankly incredible for a desktop solution and for those looking at a long-term storage solution, the DS1520+ NAS does bring a lot to the table.

Synology DS1520+ NAS Features an Intel Celeron

Although not the first 5-bay solution that Synology has ever brought to the market, the fact that this has system has four LAN ports and a decent Celeron J4125 CPU is a big jump over the older DS1517+ with it’s C3528. Although quite similar to that of the DS1019+, the DS1520+ with its improved storage expandability is going to make better use of the newer generation Celeron J3455 inside than it’s predecessor and the Intel Atom-based older generation before it. This CPU supports virtualisation, surveillance, 4K media and Plex media server. Although each generation of 5 bays has been an Intel-based CPU, this is the best example of 64-bit x86 we have seen in this family yet.

The Synology DS1520+ NAS Includes Two NVMe SSD bays

Although technically not new technology anymore, Synology is still one of the most avid supporters of NVMe bays on NAS systems for improved internal performance. Allowing you to leverage the high IOPS and general fantastic throughput of SSDs to buffer the existing slower hard drives in the RAID array, the fact the DS1520+ arrives with NVMe’s on board is an excellent addition and exactly what I would expect from the new Synology 2020 series. Additionally, I feel the DS1520+ will make better use of NVMe SSD caching bays than many of the other xx20+/21+ units, as it has both a larger base storage available and a more considerable degree of maximum drive supported in its lifespan. Finally, there is the fact that NVMe cache requires a certain amount of memory available to scale against the available storage RAID it is caching, and the DS1520+ arrives with 8GB by default which is perfect in the long-term as your storage grows.

5 Reasons You SHOULD NOT Buy the Synology DS1520+ NAS drive

As good as I think the DS1520+ is, it is still not perfect, and there are several factors about this device that may convince you to buy another machine. Such as:

The Synology DS1520+ NAS is Very Similar to the DS920+

There is no avoiding the simple fact that the DS1520+ in its key hardware architecture is remarkably similar to the July 2020 released Synology DS920+ NAS and will always be compared against the new system. Although the DS1520+ is kind of a maxed-out version of the DS920+, with improved long-term storage and network speeds down the line, unless you know you’re going to use all of those features in the product’s lifespan, the DS920+ is probably the better choice for those new to the world of NAS, as it allows you to scale your hardware early on, rather than insist on you having all of the maximum hardware on day one and ultimately not make the most of your investment.

Synology DS1520+ NAS Price Tag

Given the similarities between the DS1520+ and DS920+, it is surprising how different they are priced. Depending on when you read this article, the price of both DS920+ and DS1520+ may change, but the margin of cost difference between them is still very noticeable (around £150-170 currently). Of course, this is down to the DS1520+ having more features added on and that maximum memory on day one. However, if you do not think that you are going to take advantage of those features that are present in the DS1520+ (both in the short-term and long-term), the extra layer of cost featured on the DS1520+ can be quite off-putting. It is still excellent value for the overall hardware package you are buying, you just need to know whether you need that much hardware at all.

The Synology DS1520+ NAS Only Features 1Gbe

This is something that a number of buyers of new Synology NAS in 2020 are getting a little glum about, that they are 1-Gigabit ethernet devices. Yes, the DS1520+ does feature four 1Gbe LAN ports and therefore there is the potential, with a supported managed switch, to reach 4Gbe. However, with many of their competitors producing hardware reaching 2.5Gbe and 5Gbe by default, as well as numerous 10Gbe solutions becoming available thanks to a growing trend for greater than gigabit environments, even at this price point, 1Gbe does seem a tad underwhelming. In fairness, not all people are going to take advantage of 1Gbe in the lifespan of this product, but it does somewhat limit the future potential of this NAS system to know that even if your network hardware environment gets bigger, you cannot exceed 1Gbe in a typical one-to-one connection on the DS1520+.

The Synology DS1520+ NAS Does Not Feature a PCIe Upgrade Slot

As well as the lack of greater than 1Gbe on the DS1520+, it also so does not support any kind of PCIe upgrade options. There was a time when NAS systems only got PCIe upgrade options once they reach around £700-800 in price. However, in 2020 we are seeing increased PCIe equipped solutions arriving for his little as £250 in the world of NAS (eg the TS-251D), so reasons of cost aren’t really that appropriate anymore. one could also argue that Synology only uses PCIe gen3 x8 slots which would demand a large share of the PCIe lanes of this CPU/Chipset, instead lending that bandwidths internally to the NVMe SSD slots. However, some users will be disappointed by the lack of upgradability via PCIe expansion in the Synology DS1520+.

The Synology DS1520+ NAS NVMe Bays Are For Caching ONLY

The fact that the Synology DS1520+ only allows you to use the NVMe SSD bays for caching is something of a policy of Synology across the majority of their ranges. affecting more than just the DS1520+. If you were planning on using the dedicated SSD bays for raw storage, you will be disappointed. It is understandable why a DS1520+ NAS user will want to use this super-fast PCIe we based media for more high priority data and still curiously something that Synology does not allow, favouring the idea that users can use this SSD storage for improved internal performance. Once again, it may well be that the PCIe lanes of the CPU and chipset in the DS1520+ would somewhat bottleneck PCIe performance and therefore Synology may have restricted its use for this reason. Nevertheless the growth and popularity of NVMe’s increases every year and therefore I do think it’s high time that Synology reconsidered their position on this policy, especially on more powerful now solutions.

And there you have it, 5 reasons to buy the new Synology DS1520+ and 5 reasons not to. I hope you found this helpful and it helps you to choose the right NAS system for your home and business data storage.

Synology DS1520+ vs DS1019+ NAS Drive – Buy or Wait?

If you are looking to buy a NAS drive from Synology right now, then (despite the DS1520+ NAS early appeal) a number of the key hardware specifications of the Synology DS1520+ NAS are available in the DS920+ and DS1019+, and if the safety and integrity of your data are at stake in the short term, is just not worth waiting for. Below is how those NAS compare:

Synology DS1520+ NAS

Synology DS920+ NAS

Synology DS1019+ NAS

  • Intel J4125 1.5-2.7Ghz
  • 8GB DDR4 Memory (8GBMax)
  • 5 HDD Bays
  • Expandable to 15 Bays
  • 2x NVMe 2280 NVMe Cache Bays
  • 2x USB 3.0
  • 4x 1Gbe RJ45 LAN
  • 3yr Warranty
  • Price: TBC
  • Intel J4125 1.5-2.7Ghz
  • 4GB DDR4 Memory (8GB Max)
  • 4 HDD Bays
  • Expandable to 9 Bays
  • 2x NVMe 2280 NVMe Cache Bays
  • 2x USB 3.0
  • 2x 1Gbe RJ45 LAN
  • 3yr Warranty
  • Price: Approx £550+
  • Intel J3455 1.5-2.3Ghz
  • 8GB DDR3L Memory (8GB Max)
  • 5 HDD Bays
  • Expandable to 10 Bays
  • 2x NVMe 2280 NVMe Cache Bays
  • 3x USB 3.0
  • 2x 1Gbe RJ45 LAN
  • 3yr Warranty
  • Price: Approx £685+

Learn more about Synology in 2020/2021 from our Q&A earlier this year:
Click Below to Read the Full Q & A with Synology Taipei



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    18 thoughts on “Synology DS1520+ NAS – Should You Buy It?

    1. The data itself is on an HDD from the beginning. Seems you are testing the read limits of your HDD, thats all. I’m copying 12GB of data to an NVMe storage in less than 1 minute, and thats with USB3.0. With thunderbolt it’s only a few seconds. The limiting factor is then your connection speed like 1GBE or 10GBE. Copying internally without any connection should do the best out of it, but your limit is the reading speed of your HDD, where the data is stored.

    2. ….Should i buy 2x Samsung SSD 970 EVO Plus 250GB, M.2 (MZ-V7S250BW) …for a DS920+ ??? …many people say if the „Wear_Levelling_Count“ (Samsung Life Span Figure) is reached they (Synology) shut it off. And many people say it only last about 2 years!

    3. I beleiev that cache is more important in applications such as VM’s or docker .. mainly applications which repeat a lot like running mqtt for a vast automation … where the same data will go back and forth on a daily basis .. that’s where the cache would excel ..

      I also believe that you don’t need the nvme for cache as SATA/sata nand will suffice … Unless you have 10gbit network which requires 1gb to be transfered in ms which is not for home applications anyhow ..

    4. Hi, Would this be classed as an even better buy as it can be found for £644 but still £150 more than the 920+, or does the 920+ seem more of a bargain for £490. Its just the extra bay that moves me towards the 1520+ as it could save me from spending money on expansion unit later down the road.

    5. Trying to decide what to buy for Plex streaming I want to stream atleast 2x4k movies at the sametime. local. its between qnas or synology. but I hear many bad things about qnap with discounts software issues. Either QNAP TS-653D-8G or DS1621+
      I could always buy m1 mac mini to stream more movies and for transcoding. can someone help me decide?