Synology RackStation RS18017xs+ review

A good-value rack NAS with SAS3 support, top 10GbE performance and a range of data protection features

Editor's Choice
  • Strong app support; Robust warranty; Speedy performance
  • In-browser live view only works with Internet Explorer

Synology has a fine reputation for its consumer and SME NAS appliances, but its latest rack models show a sharper focus on mid-sized businesses. The 12-bay RS18017xs+ aims to deliver unbeatable performance, as it's one of Synology's first appliances to support 12Gbits/sec SAS3 LFF and SFF drives.

Processing power gets a boost too: the Xeon E3 v2 CPU found in the old RS18016xs+ is replaced by a faster six-core 2.2GHz Xeon D-1531. Base systems start with 16GB of ECC DDR4 RAM, expandable to 128GB.

The drive backplane is connected via three cables to a Synology SAS12G PCI-Express card sporting an Avago SAS 3216 SAS3 controller chip. The card also provides a single external SAS expansion port, and can handle up to seven 24-bay RX2417sas or 12-bay RX1217sas disk shelves.

Port choices are plentiful. The appliance offers quad embedded Gigabit Ethernet and dual 10Gbase-T connectors - and there's room for more thanks to the two free PCI-Express slots, which support industry standard fibre and copper 10GbE cards from Intel and Broadcom.

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Deployment proved simple. We installed a quartet of 15K SAS SFF drives and let Synology's browser-based quick start routine download the latest DiskStation Manager (DSM) software and create a single RAID5 array. DSM 6.1 brings in a heap of new features, including self-healing snapshots, options to encrypt existing shares and replication of encrypted shares. There's also the Active Backup app: currently in beta, this allows agentless backups to be performed for Windows and Linux systems.

There are also new Active Directory (AD) Server and DNS Server apps that turn the appliance into a Samba-powered domain controller. You get common Windows AD features such as users and groups, plus Kerberos authentication. You can even use login policies to run scripts and enforce password changes.

The Hyper Backup app, meanwhile, brings all your backup and restore tasks under one roof. It can now run integrity checks on backups and perform basic file-level deduplication. Previously, snapshot replication would only work with remote targets, but this can now be performed on local volumes to provide extra on-site copies for quick restores.

If you're thinking of using the RS18017xs+ for video storage duties, the new Surveillance Station 8.1 app is ideal. It supports the modern H.265 codec, and offers improved rule management so you can run multiple actions when an event is triggered.

The in-browser live view relies on an old NPAPI plugin, which annoyingly means it will only work with Internet Explorer, but you can always use Synology's new Surveillance Station software instead: this allowed us to get a live view directly from our Windows 10 desktops.

For 10GbE performance testing, we used a Lenovo System x3550 M5 rack server equipped with dual E5-2600 v4 Xeons, a Broadcom 10Gbase-T card and Windows Server 2012 R2. NAS performance is exemplary, with a mapped share recording raw Iometer read and write speeds for 256KB transfer requests of 9.2Gbits/sec and 9Gbits/sec respectively. Even when we switched to small 4KB transfer requests, I/O throughout remained great, with Iometer reporting read and write rates of 130,000 IOPS and 88,000 IOPS.

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To push the appliance harder, we connected another E5-2600 v4 Windows server to its second 10GbE port and handed it a dedicated share on the same SAS RAID array. With both servers in the mix, we saw cumulative Iometer read and write speeds increase to 18.4Gbits/sec and 14Gbits/sec. I/O performance ramped up nicely as well, with cumulative read and write throughputs stepping up to 251,000 IOPS and 154,000 IOPS.

The RS18017xs+ is a versatile NAS appliance that can tackle a wide range of network storage duties. The DSM 6.1 software and its wealth of apps make it an ideal backup repository, its powerful hardware delivers excellent 10GbE performance - and Synology's generous five-year warranty seals the deal.

This review was originally published in PC Pro issue 273.


The RS18017xs+ is a versatile NAS appliance that can tackle a wide range of network storage duties. The DSM 6.1 software and its wealth of apps make it an ideal backup repository, its powerful hardware delivers excellent 10GbE performance - and Synology's generous five-year warranty seals the deal.

2U rack chassis 2.2GHz Intel D-1531 Xeon 16GB ECC DDR4 (max 128GB) 12 x hot-swap LFF/SFF SAS3/SATA III drive bays Supports RAID0, 1, 10, 5, 6, hot-spare, JBOD 4 x Gigabit 2 x 10Gbase-T 2 x USB3, SAS expansion port, 2 x PCI-e 3 slots 2 x hot-swap 500W PSUs Web browser management 5yr limited warranty

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