Synology DSM 7.0 – How Well Does It Run?

How Well Does Synology DSM 7.0 Run on Different NAS Drives

It’s been a long road and we’ve waited close to 3 years since its initial reveal, but the release of the DSM 7 RC, the latest generation of Synology software and services, is here and Synology users new and old are getting ready to upgrade to significantly improved software platform. Unlike previous firmware updates that predominantly focused on improvements in stability, tweaks to security and adding features to existing services, this new Synology firmware update is genuinely massive by comparison (a tad like moving from Windows 8 to Windows 10). Of course, even though the software will be near enough the same for all Synology users, the extent to which it will perform, the applications available and how well DSM 7.0 runs on your NAS will depend a great deal on the NAS system you own and it’s hardware. One look at the download section from Synology reveals that the software is available across most NAS servers, big and small, released in the last 6 or 7 years, which is quite impressive given that even the lowly DS115j support it. So today I am selecting many of the latest and most popular NAS solutions from Synology and testing the extent to which they use DSM 7. From 1-bay dual-core ARM to Quad-Core 8-bay Ryzen, there is a huge degree of options to go through, so let’s get started.

How DSM 7.0 was Tested for Each Synology NAS

In order to make sure that each NAS was tested with a fair degree of comparison, each NAS tested below is using the same version of DSM 7.0 (Version: 7.0-41882). Additionally, each system used the exact same test files and were distributed throughout the system indexes identically. The following parameters for tests were measured:

  • The speed with which the user’s login was verified and access to the DSM 7 GUI was granted
  • How responsive the desktop GUI was and how quickly the system allows access & configuration via the control panel
  • How quick and responsive file management in file station was conducted
  • The performance and responsiveness of photo media in Synology photos
  • The indexing and playback speed of Synology Audio Station media
  • The playback and responsiveness of videos in the Synology Video Station Player (plus transcoding where supported)
  • Access and responsiveness of two live camera feeds in Synology Surveillance Station
  • Performance and Responsiveness from the NAS in DSM 7.0 when most/all of the above services and actions are conducted simultaneously

So, as you see, a fairly standard range of software and services to measure how different NAS systems from Synology handle and operate DSM 7. As tempting as it might be too to measure DSM using virtualisation or ISCSI benchmarks, the range of different capacity NAS, CPU choices and network connectivity in all these systems make any comparison between them largely incomparable. I consider the above services an acceptable benchmark for most home and prosumer users who want to take advantage of the DSM 7.0 and are curious about whether to upgrade or not. Let’s get started.

Synology DSM 7.0 on the DS120j – Should You Upgrade?

The Synology DS120j is a remarkably modest NAS system in size, capacity and internal hardware. This is precisely why it really surprised me when I saw that it too would feature a DSM 7.0 upgrade.

CPU Model Marvell Armada 3700 88F3720
CPU Quantity 1
CPU Architecture 64-bit
CPU Frequency 2-core 800 MHz
Hardware Encryption Engine YES
System Memory 512 MB DDR3L non-ECC

It performed surprisingly well and below you can find the video detailing how well it performed:

Synology DSM 7.0 on the DS220j – Should You Upgrade?

By far the most popular cost-effective entry in the Synology desktop portfolio is the DS220j 2 bay NAS box. Arriving with the popular Realtek CPU, but just 512MB of DDR4 memory, it is a fairly low powered server drive and despite the clear need for Synology to look after this popular tier of affordable solutions, even here I am surprised that it supports DSM 7.0 – but in a good way. 

CPU Model Realtek RTD1296
CPU Quantity 1
CPU Architecture 64-bit
CPU Frequency 4-core 1.4 GHz
Hardware Encryption Engine YES
System Memory 512 MB DDR4 non-ECC

Indeed, Synology themselves do highlight that DSM 7.0 operates at its best when using at least 1GB of memory to ensure that all of the system services operate to the best of their ability, which is double that of the default memory in the DS220j. Nevertheless, despite a few limitations in Synology Photos and the system slowing down a pinch when simultaneously using surveillance cameras, it performed surprisingly well and you can find out more below in the video.

Synology DSM 7.0 on the DS220+ – Should You Upgrade?

For many users, the Synology DS220+ is the entrance point for those who are looking at multimedia use or who were looking to migrate away from Cloud services like Google Drive, Google Photos and Dropbox, in favour of their own private cloud that is still rather capable. The DS220+ is also the most affordable solution in the brand’s current modern releases to feature an Intel Celeron processor and DSM 7.0 is definitely able to take advantage of this.

CPU Model Intel Celeron J4025
CPU Quantity 1
CPU Architecture 64-bit
CPU Frequency 2-core 2.0 (base) / 2.9 (burst) GHz
Hardware Encryption Engine (AES-NI) YES
System Memory 2 GB DDR4 non-ECC
Total Memory Slots 1
Maximum Memory Capacity 6 GB (2 GB + 4 GB)

Although there are numerous individual apps and services built into Synology DSM 7 that are available on pretty much any NAS, there are several more SMB (Small-Medium Business) products on the platform that require an x86 64-bit processor minimum. Services and features such as Virtualisation and more enterprise level backups from Active Backup Suite immediately become available at this tier of Synology NAS hardware. Unsurprisingly, DSM 7 ran well on the DS220+, multitasking beautifully even with the default 2GB memory. Likewise, the Synology Photos application performed very well, even when it was live recording from two IP cameras in surveillance, transcoding a 1080p video file, playing back an audio file and duplicating 50GB of data – all at the same time. For more information on how the DS220+ performed with DSM 7, watch the video below.

Synology DSM 7.0 on the DS920+ – Should You Upgrade?

The Synology DS920+ 4 bay NAS system is BY FAR the most popular desktop NAS in the brand’s portfolio. This NAS is also considered the last genuinely prosumer grade solution in the portfolio, before things get a little bit more business and enterprise at the higher tiers. The system hardware on offer in the DS920+ give you access to the entire range of Synology software and services available in DSM 7.0 that you find in all other NAS systems in this article so far, but also so provides additional information, settings and functionality in the storage manager. 

CPU Model Intel Celeron J4125
CPU Quantity 1
CPU Architecture 64-bit
CPU Frequency 4-core 2.0 (base) / 2.7 (burst) GHz
Hardware Encryption Engine (AES-NI) YES
System Memory 4 GB DDR4 non-ECC
Total Memory Slots 1
Maximum Memory Capacity 8 GB (4 GB + 4 GB)

DSM 7 alongside general improvements in access time and responsiveness of the system compared with DSM 6.2, also makes vast improvements in caching in a number of ways. From the general intelligent memory utilisation of the system and in the case of the DS920+, its 4GB of memory and how DSM 7.0 takes advantage of the NVMe slots. DSM 7 should run perfectly on a Synology DS920+ and in our comparison testing, this was well established with the system performing all tasks incredibly quickly and simultaneously with little to no aggressive increase in hardware resource consumption. As before, I recommend you check out the video below for more information on just how the DS920+ performed with DSM 7.0:

Synology DSM 7.0 on the DS1621+ & DS1821+ – Should You Upgrade?

Synology introduced the AMD embedded Ryzen processor to their range of SMB solutions in late 2020 and despite the development cycle of DSM 7.0 taking several years prior to this, it is completely supported on these newer gen CPU devices. The V1500B processor is found on the DS1621+ and DS1821+, among many others in the last year or so and given the business class services and and office collaboration tools included in DSM 7.0, its performance on these new small-medium business class servers is remarkably important for Synology’s continued growth into pre-existing SaaS integrated environments (whether to replace or exist in parallel as bare-metal)

CPU Model AMD Ryzen V1500B
CPU Quantity 1
CPU Architecture 64-bit
CPU Frequency 4-core 2.2 GHz
Hardware Encryption Engine (AES-NI) YES
System Memory 4 GB DDR4 ECC SODIMM
Memory Module Pre-installed 4 GB (4 GB x 1)
Total Memory Slots 2
Maximum Memory Capacity 32 GB (16 GB x 2)

Although only the 6 bay NAS was tested in the video below, it shares a near identical hardware architecture to the 8-bay desktop alternative and several rackmount Ryzen powered rackstation solutions. This was the best example of DSM 7 that I tested in the videos and it was easily the least resource impacted NAS of all. Although CPU utilisation spiked briefly during video playback, this was largely due to the non-embedded graphics CPU of this system than anything to do with a DSM7. Below is the video of how how this NAS handled DSM 7.

 

Choosing A Synology NAS – Need More Help?

So, there you – DSM 7.0 is currently in Release Candidate with a full and stable release coming VERY soon. Stay tuned for more extensive content on Synology DSM 7.0 when the full official release lands and if you need any further assistance on whether to upgrade, or if you still need help choosing the NAS solution for your needs, use the NASCompares free advice section below. It is completely free, is not a subscription service and is manned by real humans (two humans actually, me and Eddie). We promise impartial advice, recommendations based on your hardware and budget, and although it might take an extra day or two to answer your question, we will get back to you.

Learn More About Multiple Backup Strategies on your Synology NAS in the Guide Below:


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