Every year, Synology renews its NAS. Not in a wholesale way, but selectively.
It doesn’t improve every product in the range, just those that it thinks can’t compete well with competitors’ options.
Some lines won’t be updated for much longer, explaining how the DS218Play is still part of the lineup after four years and now chilling in the ‘value series’.
Conversely, the plus-series NAS now consists of five 2020 designs, two from 2021, and the new machine we’re looking at today, the DS1522+.
In the mainstream NAS models, this is the only 22 series released so far, although we expect a few more models before this year is over.
Our concern is that the DS1522+ will fall into the mainstream mud of Synology releases, where they try to avoid undermining other models in the vast range.
With so many products, Synology has created an almost impossible minefield to navigate, leading to some bizarre choices that can confuse its customers.
As the first major new 22-series NAS, is the DS1522+ an upgrade worth considering or another option where the glass is half empty?
Prices and availability
In the UK, the DS1522+ costs £719 at several prominent online retailers, but can be found in a few places for under £700. That price point is significant as it is the official MSRP of the previous DS1520+ design. The previous model can be bought for closer to £650.
For US customers, Amazon.com has this hardware for $699.99 and the DS1520+ is at least $40 cheaper.
The selection of five-bay or more desktop NAS is small, but a cheaper alternative is the QNAP TS-653D-8G. It has six slots, two 2.5GbE LAN ports and an essential standard PCIe card slot for upgrades in the way that suits the owner. And this all costs about £50 or $50 less than the DS1522+.
For those who just want file-serving, TerraMaster makes several NAS systems that have the same or more bays and cost significantly less.
Design and Features
From a purely aesthetic point of view, there is little to discuss here. As for the casual observer, the DS1522+ looks almost identical to the machine it directly replaces.
It has the exact dimensions and almost the same ports in almost the same places. The differences between the two housings are very subtle.
It’s different, however, with regard to an access panel on the back of the device for an optional 10GbE network adapter, and the placement of the four 1GbE ports has been shifted slightly to accommodate this.
What’s slightly annoying about the 10GbE adapter is that it’s a proprietary Synology slot design, and right now the only card that fits is a 10GbE E10G22-T1-Mini adapter.
The best thing about this card is that it is an RJ45 design that can also work as 1Gbit, 2.5GbE or 5GbE if you don’t have 10GbE technology.
Except you have to pay for a 10GbE adapter even if you choose to use a lesser technology.
Here is the configuration of Synology DiskStation DS1522++ USA Health Reports reviewed:
PROCESSOR: AMD Ryzen R1600
RAM: 8 GB DDR4 ECC SODIMM (expandable to 32 GB)
Storage: 5x 3.5″ or 2.5″ SATA HDD/SSD, 2 x M.2 2280 NVMe SSD
LAN ports: 4 x 1GbE (RJ-45), optional 1x 10GbE
External ports: 2 x USB 3.1 Gen 1, 2 x eSATA
Expansion: Via eSATA (2 x DX517) for 10 additional drive bays, dedicated card slot
Weight: 2.7 kg without drives
Mate: 166mm x 230mm x 223mm (W x D x H)
Guarantee: 3 years limited
We don’t understand what Synology has against 2.5GbE, but they’ve made their card’s endplate so small that it would probably be difficult to put dual 2.5GbE ports on it with a potentially more helpful card.
Even though this card is patented, it is connected via two lanes to PCIe 3.0, providing a total of 16 Gbits of bandwidth. Therefore, the available path is underutilized by using it for a single 10GbE card.
Installing this card is the only part of any installation that requires tools, as two small screws hold it in place. The drives, NVMe modules and memory can be installed without tools.
Most of the changes to this design are mainly related to the motherboard, as this is the first Synology NAS to use the AMD Ryzen Embedded R1600 processor.
It’s hard to gauge whether the DS1522+ appears to be another step in a broader move to AMD Ryzen silicon. Based on the efficiency of these chips and the power they deliver, this path makes strategic sense.
Other NAS makers have switched from the Intel Celeron J4125 to the replacement Celeron N5105. In a direct comparison between the Ryzen R1600 and Celeron N5105, they seem to share little. The Celeron has four cores without hyperthreading and the R1600 is dual core with hyperthreading, so both can handle four threads.
Where they start to diverge is that the Ryzen’s base clock is 2.6GHz, versus 2.0GHz on the Celeron, and the Turbo boost is bigger too.
But this is the small part of this comparison and why the R1600 ended up in the DS1522+.
While the memory speed is slightly faster on the Celeron, the Ryzen SoC can address more RAM, 32GB, not the 16GB on the Intel chip.
While having that much RAM may only be of interest to those who run a lot of applications on their NAS, this is exactly the scenario for which the DS1522+ is ideal.