Synology RackStation RS816 4-Bay NAS Review 5

Synology RackStation RS816 4-Bay NAS Review

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Value and Conclusion

  • The Synology RackStation RS816 retails for $549.99.
  • Decent performance
  • High quality power supply
  • Low energy consumption
  • Restricted height (1U)
  • Rackmount option
  • Power consumption
  • DSM OS
  • Two Gigabit Ethernet ports
  • Support for up to 16 camera licenses (comes with two free licenses)
  • ErP Lot 6 compliant
  • USB 3.0 compatibility
  • Ability to skip disk checking during RAID setup (only in RAID 0, 1, and 10)
  • eSATA port
  • Compatible with Synology's RX415 expansion unit
  • Metal HDD trays which feature locks
  • 3 year warranty
  • Price
  • Weak SoC for demanding applications
  • 1 GB RAM
  • Low performance with encrypted files
  • IOPs performance in DiskSPD tests
  • Lack of HDMI port(s)
  • No option to skip disk checking during RAID 5 and RAID 6 setup
  • You cannot format an external disk into NTFS (however, external NTFS disks can be read and written to properly)
Synology's RackStation RS816 is an entry level rackmount NAS with, however, quite the stiff price because of its extra features and very high quality components. Its limited height and ability to withstand tough operating conditions also require a special design and quality parts which obviously don't come cheap. This server's PSU is of extra high quality and is among the very few we have come across so far to feature a 12,000h bulk cap at 105 °C. Even ultra-expensive desktop PSUs are equipped with 2,000-3,000h bulk caps for the same operating conditions. The DPS-100AP-13A PSU is also 80 PLUS Silver certified, which further restricts the system's power consumption. The RS816 fares well in terms of performance, but it cannot keep up with servers equipped with stronger Intel CPUs. We would like to see more RAM as well since 1 GB looks low even for Synology's highly efficient DSM OS with its admittedly very low hardware demands. This server's RAM total can unfortunately not be upgraded, and given how cheap RAM is nowadays, we can't fathom why Synology didn't provide the RS816 with at least 4 GB or even 8 GB of RAM.

The inclusion of an eSATA port means the capacity of the RS816 can easily be expanded upon by adding a Synology RX415 expansion unit, a 4-bay expansion unit with a 1U height profile and short depth of 12'' (30.48 cm). The major downside of the RS816 is in our opinion its poor performance with encrypted file transfers. In business environment, a NAS server will most likely be called upon to deal with encrypted files, which will have its low performance in such file-transfer scenarios cause lots of headaches. Synology might claim that encrypted file transfers are quite fast, but our test results proved quite the opposite. Its performance with open files is pretty good, though, especially if you exploit both Ethernet ports and team them for up to 2 Gbps speeds.

The RS816 isn't an ordinary NAS, making it unsuitable for the average user since its natural environment is inside a rack, serving the needs of a small company or office. Although it is a business product, it operates silently, and the cherry on top is its low power consumption, which will keep electricity bills sane. Strong NAS servers might have the performance advantage, but the difference in energy consumption can be huge considering that these machines are meant to operate around the clock. So before you buy a NAS server for 24/7 operation, you had better consider your priorities and prefer a weaker server that will meet your demands over a much stronger server that will over-qualify for the task at hand. Not only are stronger servers more expensive, they will also consume much more energy, leading to noticeably higher electricity bills over the long run. Use an energy efficient NAS and your carbon footprint will also be lower. The RS816 might not set new performance records, but features very high build quality, a silent operation, low power consumption, can be installed into a rack, and "runs" the excellent DSM OS, which is among the best currently available. Should Synology manage to improve the RS816's performance with encrypted file transfers in a future revision, it would be a much more complete and capable NAS.
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