Synology FlashStation FS2017

Synology’s FS2017 brings all-flash storage down to a price point SMBs will like

Price
£4,800
  • Good value; Great 10GbE performance, Gigabit and 10GbE ports; SAS3/SATA SSD support; Feature-rich DSM software
  • Another noisy Synology appliance

The FlashStation FS3017 signalled Synology's intentions on the all-flash storage market earlier this year and its new FS2017 aims to make the technology even more appealing to SMBs. This 2U rack appliance offers the same 24 SFF bays as its bigger brother but its more modest hardware specification has allowed Synology to slash costs.

Whereas the FS3017 costs a shade under ten grand, prices for a diskless FS2017 start at around 5,000. The performance will be lower as the FS2017 is powered by a single 8-core 2.1GHz D-1541 Xeon CPU the FS3017 is endowed with dual 2.4GHz E5-2620 v3 Xeons.

Memory is the DDR4 ECC RDIMM variety and the FS2017 starts with 16GB which can be upgraded to 128GB. It's actually better endowed in the network department as it offers the same dual embedded 10GBase-T ports as the FS3017 but augments them with a quartet of Gigabit.

We tested using low-cost Kingston SATA SSDs and kept an eye on their health from the Storage Manager app

Quality, design and noise 

The low 45W TDP of the D-1541 Xeon reduces power consumption allowing Synology to fit smaller 500W dual redundant PSUs. Physically, there are few other differences as the sturdy chassis uses the same removable panel in the lid with four hot-plug cooling fans lurking underneath.

Noise levels make the FS2017 best suited to a dedicated room as even on the DSM quiet' fan mode, the SPLnFFT iOS app on our iPad recorded 60dB from one metre in front of the appliance. If you add a network card, this mode is disabled and on the next cool' setting, noise levels went up to 66dB. Select the full-speed' mode at your peril as this generated a ridiculously high 77dB.

Dual Synology SAS12G PCI-Express cards service all front hot-swap bays allowing the FS2017 to support low-cost SATA and high-performance SAS3 SSDs. There's one spare expansion slot and the FS2017 is certified for industry-standard 10GbE, 25GbE and even 40GbE network adapters. 

The appliance is expansion-ready as up to two 12-bay RX1217sas or 24-bay RX2417sas disk shelves can be connected to the external port on the first SAS card (the second card's port is labelled for maintenance use only). It's also cheaper to expand this appliance as the FS3017 requires an optional FXC17 SAS3 card which costs around 700.

The appliance has three fan modes but they're all too noisy for deployment in an office

Good 10GbE performer

With eight Kingston DC400 480GB SATA SSDs configured in a Synology RAID F1 array, we recorded good overall performance. A NAS share mapped to a Lenovo x3550 M5 Windows server over 10GbE returned fast sequential read and write speeds of 9.2Gbps and 8Gbps.

I/O throughout was also good as Iometer set to 4KB transfer requests reported sequential read and write rates of 98,500 IOPS and 78,000 IOPS. For random operations, we saw read rates remain the same while writes dropped to 60,000 IOPS.

IP SAN 10GbE performance was respectable with a 500GB target returning sequential read and write speeds of 9.1Gbps and 7.9Gbps.  Random read and write I/O throughput settled at 84,000 IOPS and 56,800 IOPS.

Synology's claimed 90,000 IOPS for iSCSI random writes is quite achievable. With Iometer running on two servers each with a dedicated iSCSI target, we recorded a cumulative throughout of 89,800 IOPS

We also tested general SQL database performance with Iometer configured for 256 outstanding I/Os, a 16KB block size, 66% read, 34% write and a 100% random distribution. After leaving the test to settle, the FS2017 returned an impressive 50,000 IOPS although average latency was down at 20.5ms.

We set the appliance's notification system to alert us when volume space was getting low

DSM features

Synology's DSM 6.1 software offers a superb range of storage features. Its new RAID F1 option is designed to offset SSD wear across the array by nominating one drive to receive more parity bits that the rest.

Support for BTRFS volumes brings NAS share and iSCSI LUN snapshots into play. Managed by the slick Snapshot Replication app, we created snapshots on demand and scheduled them at regular intervals as often as every five minutes.

Recovering lost data is a cinch as the app allowed us to choose a snapshot, clone it or copy it in place. We could also browse share snapshot contents and either copy a selected file to a new location or use the File Station app to email it to another user. 

The FS2017 isn't designed to be a general-purpose backup repository which is better handled by products such as Synology high-capacity RS18017xs+ which we reviewed in our sister title, PC Pro. However, if you want to get your data secured off-site, DSM's Hyper Backup app provides facilities for remote, Rysnc and cloud backups.

During testing, we used the DSM Resource Monitor to keep an eye on appliance utilisation

Conclusion 

The FS2017 is well-built and comes with dual redundant PSUs although the noisy cooling system relegates it to a sound-proofed cabinet or dedicated server room. Even so, it's a versatile storage solution as it supports both SATA and SAS3 SSDs while Synology's DSM software delivers an impressive range of features

The lower hardware spec does have an impact on performance as it is noticeably slower than the FS3017 but we found the FS2017 does deliver on Synology's speed claims. Furthermore, with the price of a diskless model starting at around 5,000, the FS2017 is a better option than the FS3017 for SMBs that want an affordable all-flash storage solution.

Verdict

The FS2017 delivers on Synology’s performance promises and the low price will appeal to budget-conscious SMBs looking for a versatile and affordable all-flash storage array

Chassis: 2U rack

CPU: 2.1GHz D-1541 Xeon

Memory: 16GB DDR4 ECC RDIMM (max 128GB)

Storage: 24 x SAS3/SATA III hot-swap drive bays

Controller: 2 x Synology SAS12G PCI-Express cards

Array support: RAID0, 1, 10, 5, 6, hot-spare, JBOD, F1

Network: 4 x Gigabit, 2 x 10GBase-T

Other ports: 2 x USB 3

Expansion: External SAS3 port; 1 x PCI-e 3 slot

Power: 2 x 500W hot-plug PSUs

Management: Web browser

Warranty: 5-year limited

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