[REVIEW] Synology DiskStation DS713+ with DX513 expansion unit
A few weeks ago, Synology contacted us with the question “Have you spotted our latest 2-bay DS713+ and DX513 expansion unit?”. Honestly this model seemed to have slipped to capture our attention because we were thinking “Oh, it just has to be the old DS712+ upgraded with USB 3.0 ports…”.
Synology said no, it is a lot more than just the USB 3.0 ports. So we decided to try it, look at it and test it just like we did last year with the new 5-bay DX513 expansion unit. Didn’t put our hopes up too much, since the DS712+ was already a very decent unit putting down a solid performance ratio.
Synology’s DS713+ key features:
- 202.3 MB/sec Reading, 135.84 MB/sec Writing Speed1
- Dual Core CPU & Super-Speed USB 3.0 Ports
- Dual-LAN Failover and Link Aggregation Support
- Hassle-free Scalability Up to 7 Drives With Synology DX513
- Extensive Surveillance With 20 HD IP Camera Capacity
- VMware® with VAAI support, Citrix®, Microsoft® Hyper-V® compliant
- Easy-to-Use Synology DiskStation Manager (DSM)
Synology is aiming for the budget minded SMB users who put cost-efficiency and high performance on their requirements list. That said, on paper it cranks up both read & write speeds, comes in the faster USB flavor, and doesn’t back down on expandability. With up to 20 surveillance cameras connectable, 5 extra disks (via DX513 unit) and all the high-end business compliancy you either love or hate (Citrix, VAAI, Hyper-V…) it looks a cracking device. Very promising!
- CPU Frequency : Dual Core 2.13 GHz (Floating Point)
- Memory : DDR3 1 GB
- Internal HDD/SSD : 3.5″ or 2.5″ SATA(II) X 2
- Max Internal Capacity : 8TB (2X 4TB Hot Swappable HDD)
- External: USB 3.0 Port X 2, USB 2.0 Port X 1, eSATA Port X 1
- Size (HxWxD) : 157 x 103.5 x 232 mm
- Weight : 1.69 kg
- LAN : 2 ports Gigabit with support for Link Aggregation
- Wake on LAN/WAN
- System Fan : 92 x 92 mm x1
- Wireless Support (dongle)
- Noise Level : 19.2 dB(A)
- Power Recovery
- AC Input Power Voltage : 100V to 240V AC
- Power Frequency : 50/60 Hz, Single Phase
- Power Consumption : 30.72 W (Access); 17.88W (HDD Hibernation);
- Operating Temperature : 5°C to 35°C (40°F to 95°F)
- Storage Temperature : -10°C to 70°C (15°F to 155°F)
- Relative Humidity : 5% to 95% RH
- Maximum Operating Altitude : 6,500 feet
- Certification : FCC Class B, CE Class B, BSMI Class B
- Warranty : 3 Years
On the software side the most notable features are:
- Max File System Size : 108TB
- Max iSCSI Target # : 32
- Max iSCSI LUN # : 256
- iSCSI LUN Clone/Snapshot
- Supported RAID Types : Synology Hybrid RAID (SHR), Basic, JBOD, RAID 0, RAID 1
- RAID Migration : Basic to RAID 1
- Volume Expansion with Larger HDDs : Synology Hybrid RAID, RAID 1
- Synology Expansion Unit Support : DX513/DX213 (supports RAID-5, 6 and 10 with hot spares)
- Max User Accounts : 2048
- Max Groups : 256
- Max Shared Folder : 256
- Max Shared Folder Sync Tasks : 8
- Max Concurrent CIFS/AFP/FTP Connections : 512
- Windows Access Control List (ACL) Integration
- VMware vSphere 4 and 5 with VAAI
- Windows Server 2008 and 2012
- Citrix Ready
The DS713+ has a lot in familiar with its predecessor. Actually, if it wasn’t for the removal of the Synology brand name in white, the differences are very hard to spot since the old and new model look visual twins.
The all-matte black-colored outer shell still consists of thin rolled steel; the front and back are made of PVC. Everything looks well built and lives up to the business appeal. The 2 drive bays are the exact same push-tray system used for most devices from the SMB series, all very durable and of “no-nonsense” approach. A nice feature is the twist-locking mechanism, avoiding the trays to snap out in case somebody would push them.
On the back of the unit the blue color on the USB ports reveal the upgrade to USB 3.0 ports. The fan still remains the 92mm model from the predecessor, equally kept intact is the ESATA connector for the expansion unit.
The power brick that comes with the DS713+ appears to be the same one as the old DS712+, however due to some eco-efficiency modifications to the new model this one should draw a few less watts through the wall plug.
The DX513 expansion unit’s design is a bit different than the old one. Glossy front, solid rolled steel in matte black give it a slightly more expensive look. Drive trays have been upgraded, last year’s model had snap-locks (a switch system, where you pushed in the disk, and pushed a little switch down to lock the whole disk tray), this year’s model uses the exact same twist lock as the DS713+. On the back of the new expansion unit you can probably spot the most visually differentiating item compared to the old one: removable fan-mounted brackets.
In the acoustics department the DS713+ does a pretty steady job. It doesn’t annoy you in standby/sleep mode, the 92mm fan on low-power or silent mode has thought itself how it can keep the user pleased by NOT trying to mimic an industrial grade server rack the size of a cookie box.
However it has to be said, there is a “thingy” with the fitting of the disk brackets in the DS713+, it might be only our test-dummy, but once the disk was mounted and plugged in the unit started making slight vibrations who became audible during long time operation.
So we fixed that… with an EPDM strip (yes, that’s what normal people call “a piece of pond liner”). We’ve seen this rattle issue before with a Shuttle OmniNAS, so this time we knew how to arm us against rattle. Fairly simply put: you apply a very tiny strip of EPDM rubber on the slider of both drive rails, causing a lot more friction between the tray and the drive cage = noise gone.
It has to be mentioned that the DX513 expansion unit used the exact same rail type, and is more silent than the DS713+. The new expansion unit comes with 2 user removable 80mm fans. Although when I first saw Synology’s choice/opt for 2x 80mm fans I was very skeptical. Why? When they could have easily went for a 2x 92mm or 1x 120mm more silent solution… Well It’s impressive, but the 2x 80mm are incredibly silent, the built quality of the expansion unit is very sturdy and well balanced (pretty heavy too, which is good for the purpose).
A separate note on the removable fans on the DX513 expansion unit: this is a GOOD improvement! I really liked to see how they allowed the fans to be replaced/removed/cleaned without having to power off the NAS and first remove all the drives, crack open the whole casing before you had access to the rear cooling fans. This time you can take out both fans by removing the bolts that hold them into place at the back of the unit.
Don’t forget to turn off the beep warning before you remove them from the power socket for cleaning, cause the NAS will turn on the alarm if it detects a fan being deactivated/failing.
A word on power efficiency
It has to be said that the upgraded DS713+ adds a lot more spice to the Synology recipe compared to the old model. Usually these units tend to consume less power with every generation, yet this time (for the DS713+) this is not the case. The power draw increased by 3w during operation, whilst the sleep mode power draw has remained intact. It is relatively fair to say that the increased capability of the USB 3.0 (being able to sport much more hungry devices) and the Intel Atom boost from 1.8Ghz to 2.16Ghz also elevated the power consumption. Though 3w is still considered fairly moderate for this type of highly capable networking device.
- The new DS713+: 31w during operation, 18w in sleep mode
- The old DS712+: 28w during operation, 18w in sleep mode
When looking at the DX513 expansion unit, it’s a totally different story. On the outside it might not have had an epic design makeover, but on the inside (logic board) the improvements are vast.
The DX513 gets away with 45w where the old DX510 required 30% more “juice” to get the same errands done. Another (and more impressive) fact is the support for deep sleep, which reduces the “sleep” power draw by a whopping 900%.
- The new DX513: 45w during operation, 2w in deep sleep mode
- The old DX510: 59w during operation, 18w in sleep mode
Surveillance, download, and various apps
Synology has always been down with the pack when it comes to apps and availability. Actually there are already so many apps out there for your devices that its becoming increasingly hard to feature something new in every review made. We know for example that they have introduced streaming video features, however this SMB unit doesn’t have a dedicated HMDI out for that, so we’ll focus on that part for a future device.
What we can highlight for the SMB user is that the business features have been tuned up, please give this link a read.
Particularly handy are the data backup & replication settings and integration with their native cloud services. Making it easier than ever to share your document in the cloud with yourself, your clients, or the people you value obtaining them in real-time.
Another great feature for Synology is the improved DSM. Installation right “out of the box” has never been this easy. With previous versions one had to download the latest DSM from their website, or use a potentially older version that came in the box (cd). Now the new system auto-detects a first-run and asks you if you’d like to install your own DSM, or use a version present by default on the NAS’s internal memory.
That’s a first for Synology. And its real easy, you just tell it to use the DSM present. After the installer has run you through the easy step-by-step configurator it will auto update to the latest DSM for you. Pretty convenient way to set everything up without losing too much time using the cd or manual DSM download.
Speed & performance
We are providing you with a simple table of file read/write actions we performed and which represents a more real world model of what users actually do with their NAS devices. These test are averages from Windows (SMB) and Apple (AFP) systems.
- A set of 100 HQ JPEG photos in folder
- A bulk of 1000 itunes audio files
- A 4GB folder containing mixed small files and folders
- A 8GB single file archive
- A 35GB folder with 10*3.5GB files inside
- An 800MB single file archive
- A 350MB episode
Table 1: Native 2 disk mirrored RAID. (RAID-1 without Expansion unit)
|Synology DS713+||Copy from NAS in MB/sec AVG – PEAK||Write to NAS in MB/Sec AVG – PEAK|
|1 (100 JPEG)||97 – 111||48 – 71|
|2 (1000 MP3)||51 – 71||47 – 86|
|3 (4GB Folder)||66 – 88||75 – 117|
|4 (8GB Archive)||81 – 98||105 – 117|
|5 (35GB Folder)||66 – 97||92 – 116|
|6 (800MB File)||72 – 118||106 – 117|
|7 (350MB File)||77 – 117||99 – 115|
|ATTO record R5||118/119 write @256Kb, 118 read @ 512Kb|
Now compare these numbers with the results we got from last year’s DS712+ (the predecessor of the new DS713+, see table below). You can clearly notice up to 30% speed gain in Raid-1. It’s nearing the speed limit of the gigabit network adapter, which is a very solid improvement over the old model.
|Previous model: DS712+||Copy from NAS in MB/sec||Write to NAS in MB/Sec|
|A set of 100 photos in folder||95-108||45-56|
|A bulk of 1000 itunes audio files||55-76||45-66|
|A 4GB folder containing mixed small files and folders||60-76||50-69|
|A 8GB single file archive||80-97||75-83|
|A 30GB folder with 20*1.5GB files inside||75-105||60-83|
|An 800MB single file archive||80-81||71-77|
|A 350MB episode||90-115||80-83|
Particularly noteworthy to mention are the ATTO results on windows. This is one of the very few “moderately priced” NAS units we’ve tested that pushes forward a maximum speed of 118Mb/Sec in both read and write.
Table 2: RAID5 ( 3 disk mode, 2 native in DS713+, 1 disk in DX513)
|Synology 713+ with DX513||Copy from NAS in MB/sec AVG – PEAK||Write to NAS in MB/Sec AVG – PEAK|
|1 (100 JPEG)||67 – 70||73 – 80|
|2 (1000 MP3)||55 – 77||62 – 92|
|3 (4GB Folder)||66 – 118||55 – 115|
|4 (8GB Archive)||115 – 118||111 – 117|
|5 (35GB Folder)||110 – 118||108 – 116|
|6 (800MB File)||115 – 118||106 – 115|
|7 (350MB File)||113 – 115||104 – 110|
|ATTO record R5||118/119 write @512Kb, 118/119 read @ 512Kb|
Comparing these results with last year’s model (see table below), we can again see a very solid speed boost in the write speed to the Synology DS713+. It has to be said that this 2-bay units really shows its performance potential when hooked up with the expansion unit.
|Previous model: DS712+ with DX510||Copy from NAS in MB/sec||Write to NAS in MB/Sec|
|A set of 100 photos in folder||60-65||50-56|
|A bulk of 1000 itunes audio files||110-116||35-57|
|A 4GB folder containing mixed small files and folders||74-93||50-74|
|A 8GB single file archive||117-118||75-82|
|A 30GB folder with 20*1.5GB files inside||110-118||79-85|
|An 800MB single file archive||116-118||71-78|
|A 350MB episode||100-117||73-79|
The DS713+ isn’t the easiest unit to upgrade if you’re not a DIY nut but it’s not mission impossible either. Upgrading the RAM memory requires the removal of the rear PVC backplate and rolled steel cage, after that you have access to remove the logic board to replace the SODIMM module (default 1Gb, but can be replaced by a 2Gb or higher if required).
Personally we’ve seen over the years that Synology isn’t a big fan of users replacing or modifying their units. Just like this DS713+ they’re made to be purchased, plugged into the power socket, and “simply do their job”. People who own the latest 4 bay models will probably agree that the new approach towards click-together plastic outer shells clearly don’t want to be opened by non-authorized Synology technicians. So unless you read “Warranty void if opened” as “surprise inside”, best to let Synology handle your repairs or upgrades
Last year’s version was already a solid device being well capable to deliver quality performance for most small business users out there. This year’s DS713+ spiced up the writing speeds by 30-40% depending on RAID configuration. Adding high speed USB3.0 to the plate, and an improved installation guide with DSM “built-in” makes the DS713+ again a killer bee.
Very possibly the only negative bit we can come up with were the internal acoustics when the hard drives were actively spinning, though this could be solved with some DIY tweaks. Power draw seems to be few watts higher, again not a point we can mock on as the DS713+’s specifications come up much more muscular compared to last year’s DS712+.
Although we’re supposed to be enlightened by the “main unit” (the Synology DS713+), we’d lie if the DX513 expansion unit left us cold. To contradict, I’d rather state the new expansion unit made quite a show for itself. How can’t it be? Dramatically improved energy efficiency, user-replaceable cooling fans on brackets and a more silent unit are all it needs to make the DX510 better and transform the old pumpkin into the new DX513!
The expansion unit doesn’t only bring speed gain to the already nice DS713+, it goes way beyond “just expansion”. A few examples why you too could benefit from getting an expansion unit:
- Use the DS713+ as a mirror-RAID solution for work related, use the DX513 to create another RAID for all your home-related sharing/streaming/backups.
- Use the DS713+ as a media device for home, use the DX513 for a RAID-5 array and create for all home/biz users their own network folder (or disk) for private backup and/or public sharing.
- Use the 1st gigabit network output for a 24/7 Mirrored-Raid web server or FTP, use the 2nd gigabit network output to drive all your local home or business NAS features like sharing, iSCSI, backups, etc… by keeping the public web shared part on a completely separated network lane from your private data.
- And so many more combinations…
Synology’s DS713+ has an MSRP of 435.60 USD, the DX513 expansion unit comes at a MSRP of 423.50 USD.