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DS1821+ NAS Review (vs DS1621+): Tips on Synology 10Gbps and RAM Upgrades

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As the name suggests, the Synology DS1821+ is of yesteryear.

Actually, it’s older than that — Synology first announced it in 2020. But it’s still going to be the latest Synology 8-bay NAS for homes and SMB for a while — Synology likely won’t release its replacement this year.

What’s most notable, though, it’s that it’s the DS1621+ plus two additional drive bays. The two share the same hardware specs — both are the firsts from Synology that use an AMD Ryzen quad-core CPU.

That said, this is not a review of the DS1821+ — you should check out that of the DS1621+ instead. Rather, I’ll mention how to get the most out of this server and the DS1621+ via hardware upgrades.

In a way, this post is about Synology hardware upgrades, specifically in RAM, storage, and 10Gbps network speed. In other words, if you’re looking for the best 10Gbps NAS for the home (or small office), you’re at the right place.

I wrote this post based on my own experience. After using the DS1621+ for over a year, I recently got a DS1821+, not as a replacement. I like both servers equally.

Synology DS1821 vs DS1621
Synology DS1821+ vs DS1621+: Stretch the latter out to add two more drive bays, and you’ll get yourself the former.

Synology DS1821+ vs DS1621+: It’s 8 vs 6 in the number of drive bays

Right off the bat, it’s worth noting that the DS1821+’s extra two drive bays will come in handy for those needing to add more storage space without resorting to getting an expansion unit, which is not a good idea anyway.

That’s because the only fitting expansion unit is the 5-bay DX517, and it connects to the server via an eSATA port that caps at 5Gbps — that’s a bit too slow.

The next generation of Synology expansion hardware has a much faster backbone connection but is only available in more expensive servers, starting with the DS2422+.

Considering you can find hard drives of 20TB and higher capacities nowadays, the number of drive bays is not that important. So, if one can live with fewer bays, the DS1821+ has nothing to justify the more expensive cost compared to the DS1621+.

If you’re mulling over the two, that is the only point you should consider.

Synology DS1821+ vs DS1621+: Hardware specifications

ModelDS1821+DS1621+
CPUAMD RyzenV1500B 
quad-core 2.2 GHz
AMD RyzenV1500B 
quad-core 2.2 GHz
System Memory4 GB DDR4 4 GB DDR4 
Max Memory32 GB 
(16 GB x 2 slots)
32 GB 
(16 GB x 2 slots)
Dimensions6.53 x 13.5 x 9.57 in
 (166 x 343 x 243 mm)
6.53 x 11.1 x 9.57 in
 (166 x 282 x 243 mm)
Weight13.23 lbs (6.0 kg)11.24 lbs (5.1 kg)
Drive Bays86
Expansion SupportYes 
(two units)
Yes 
(two units)
Drive Interface2.5 or 3.5 SATA Drives, 
Hot-swappable
2.5 or 3.5 SATA Drives, 
Hot-swappable
Maximum Capacity
(at launch)
128TB 
(8x 16TB drives)
96 TB 
(6x 16TB drives)
Built-in M.2 SlotsTwoTwo
RAID TypesSHR, Basic, JBOD,
RAID 0, RAID 1, RAID 5, 
RAID 6, RAID 10
SHR, Basic, JBOD,
RAID 0, RAID 1, RAID 5, 
RAID 6, RAID 10
Ports / Interfaces4x RJ-45 1GbE LAN,
 3x USB 3.0, 
2x eSATA
4x RJ-45 1GbE LAN,
 3x USB 3.0, 
2x eSATA
PCIe Expansion1x Gen 3 x8 PCIe slot1x Gen 3 x8 PCIe slot
Add-in-card Support 
(not included)
10GbE Add-on NIC card: 
E10G18-T2
E10G18-T1
E10G21-F2
10GbE Add-on NIC card: 
E10G18-T2
E10G18-T1
E10G17-F2
Operating SystemDSM 6 (and later)DSM 6 (and later)
File System 
(Internal / External)
Btrfs, EXT4 / 
Btrfs, EXT4, 
EXT3, FAT, 
NTFS, HFS+, 
exFAT (app required)
Btrfs, EXT4 / 
Btrfs, EXT4, 
EXT3, FAT, 
NTFS, HFS+, 
exFAT (app required)
Suggested Retail Price
(at launch)
$949.99$799.99
Warranty3 years3 years
Hardware specifications: Synology DS1821+ vs DS1621+

Synology DS1821+ vs DS1621+: Hardwware upgrades are (almost) a must

As you’ll note in the table above, both servers come with a powerful CPU yet just 4GB of RAM.

That amount is enough for general usage, but a memory upgrade is a must if you want to get the most out of the server.

Synology DS1821
Synology hardware upgrades: Here’s my new Synology DS1821+ and the upgrade parts, including a 10Gbps PCIe add-on card, a 32GB DDR4 RAM kit, and two 1.92GB Seagate IronWolf NVMe SSDs.

What’s more, each server has two built-in M.2 slots to host two NVMe SSDs — a good upgrade option if you use the server for applications that can benefit from caching. There’s no way to use these slots for general storage.

And finally, the servers have a PCIe slot for an add-on card. In this case, you can use it to add 10Gbps connectivity to the servers — another must if you’re into Multi-Gig.

With that, let’s proceed with the upgrade. For this post, I did the upgrades on a DS1821+, but the processes and parts are the same on a DS1621+.

Synology DS1821+: RAM upgrade

The server uses DDR4-2666 PC4-21300 ECC SODIMM RAM and can handle two sticks.

Synology says the DS1821+ supports a maximum of 32GB, but I suspect you can double that by using two 32GB sticks. In any case, 32GB is probably all you’d need anyway.

Synology DS1821
Synology hardware upgrades: Here’s my Synology DS1821+ with two new 16GB sticks of NEMIX RAM. Note the original 4GB stick, which you can use for a different server.

Synology is stringent in RAM support, and most standard third-party RAM won’t work. It’s somewhat of a ploy to force users into using its prohibitively expensive RAM — a 16GB Synology stick currently costs $350.

That said, I’d recommend this 32GB kit from NEMIX RAM for less than $200. It’s a great deal and has been working well in my case.

Note that you don’t need to use both RAM slots, nor do you need to use same-size sticks — you can mix two sticks of different sizes or even brands.

For example, one 16GB NEMIX stick plus the 4GB stock RAM will give your server 20GB in total system memory.

DS1821 Info
My DS1821+ has been running happily with 32GB of NEMIX RAM.

After that, you can install them via the slot on the server’s underside. The process is easy and painless. All you need is a small Philip-head screwdriver.

Synology DS1821+: SSD caching upgrade

As I mentioned in the review of the DS1621+, in most cases, SSD caching upgrade is unnecessary and won’t increase the server’s general copy speeds.

However, if you use your server to host a large database, a website, or any applications that benefit from caching, the two M.2 slots will come in handy.

You will need two drives if you want to cache for both writing and reading — so it’s a good idea to get two.

By the way, you should only cache a hard drive volume. If you use SATA SSDs for storage, caching is unnecessary. On top of that, if you decide to cache, it’s also a better idea to upgrade the server’s network to 10Gbps — more below — or at least use its Link Aggregation feature to get a 2Gbps connection out of its two Gigabit ports.

The more is always, the better in terms of capacity, but generally, you won’t need drives larger than 250GB for caching.

However, the appropriate caching size depends on the server’s storage volume that you want to cache. The Storage Manager app’s SSD Cache Adviser function will give you a good idea of the cache size.

When in doubt, get two large drives. In my case, I used two 1.92TB Seagate IronWolf drives, which are designed for NAS servers. You can use general non-NAS SSDs, but they might have less than desirable endurance ratings for the task.

Synology DS1821
Synology hardware upgrades: The Synology DS1821+’s M.2 slots are on its left inner wall.

In any case, installing the SSDs onto the server is super easy. The two M.2 slots are inside on the server’s left wall. Take the first and second drive bays out, and you can reach them.

Synology DS1821+: 10Gbps NIC card upgrade

This part requires the most work — you have to remove the server’s cover. However, it’s still easy enough.

Synology DS1821+ PCieSynology DS1821+
Synology DS1821+ 10Gbps upgrade: It’s a relatively straightforward process.

Use a screwdriver to undo the six screws on the back that hold the server’s top cover — you can easily identify them — then remove the cover. Now install the card on the PCIe slot and put the cover back. Mission accomplished.

The harder question might be which card to get. Generally, you have three options:

  1. E10G18-T2: Dual 10Gbps RJ45 Multi-Gig ports.
  2. E10G18-T1: Single 10Gbps RJ45 Multi-Gig port.
  3. E10G21-F2: Dual 10Gbps SFP+ ports.

The second option is the least expensive but is good enough for most cases.

Synology DS1821 vs DS1621
Synology DS1821+ vs DS1621+: Here are my servers upgraded to 10Gbps using two different dual PCIe cards.

For my case, though, I used the first option for my DS1821+ and the third for my DS1621+ — two ports are always better than one. But no matter which card you get, the installation is the same.

Extra: Synology DS1621+ to DS1821+ in-place upgrade

If you’re using the DS1621+ and want to upgrade to the DS1821+ to take advantage of the two extra drive bays, the process is the same as when you migrate from one Synology server to another.

Specifically, move drives from the former to the latter, and everything will be there after you re-install DSM.

DS1621 StorageDS1821 Storage
Synology DS1821+ vs DS1621 (left): The Storage Manager of the servers before and after an in-place upgrade using the same drives. Note the empty drive bays.

And that worked with all the upgrades, too. In my case, I tried the migration with all the parts mentioned above installed on the DS1621+ then moved them, together with the hard drives, to the DS1821+.

After the DSM re-install process, which took about 10 minutes, all of the settings, including the caching, of the DS1621+ were ported over to the DS1821+ with no issue.

By the way, the DS1821+ delivered the same performance as the DS1621+ in my testing. That was expected, considering they shared the same hardware specs (and upgrades).

Again, the difference between these two is just the extra two drive bays of the DS1821+, and all that implies.

Synology DiskStation DS1821+'s Rating

9 out of 10
Synology DS1821
Performance
9 out of 10
Features
9.5 out of 10
Design and Setup
9 out of 10
Value
8.5 out of 10

Pros

Powerful AMD CPU delivers fast and reliable performance

Robust DiskStation Operating System with tons of practical home and business applications, including Virtual Machines

Straightforward and consistent setup, upgrade, and management

Built-in M.2 NVMe slots

Eight built-in drive bays, lots of network storage options

Quiet operator

Cros

Expensive RAM upgrade

No built-in 10Gbps port (adapter required)

Only two camera licenses included

A bit pricey

Synology DS1821+ vs DS1621+: Which to get

Both the DS1821+ and DS1621+ are excellent servers. They are essentially the same, except the former has two more built-in drive bays.

And that difference can be a huge deal if you want a ton of extra storage space or just more volumes or RAID configurations. In this case, the cost difference between the two is lower than getting an expansion unit.

If six bays are enough for you — they are plenty for most users considering you can get hard drives of very high capacities these days — the DS1821+ doesn’t offer anything extra.

On the other hand, getting the hardware upgrades in RAM and 10Gbps connectivity is recommended no matter which server you end up getting. In fact, in my experience, the memory upgrade is the minimum requirement if you want to enjoy your NAS machine to the max.

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2 thoughts on “DS1821+ NAS Review (vs DS1621+): Tips on Synology 10Gbps and RAM Upgrades”

  1. Thanks for an awesome writeup. I have a server for Plex Media Server (and various other things) that uses 4x USB3.1 16TB drives in 2x RAID-1 (one cold spare, not mounted other than during sync) on a Linux server.

    I don’t want to risk data loss using btrfs. Synology uses BTRFS. I don’t want Nx Power Bricks, so a multi-bay device makes sense. SAN, NAS, whatever.

    Can the 1821 be “repurposed” for hardware only, with a regular linux distro, with md sw RAID, and still work? I want the bays, the power supplies, the Ethernet, just not btrfs + homebrew software to control it.

    Any advice appreciated. With a $2K barrier to entry (1821 + drives) this isn’t something I’m just going to go “buy and do” without a hint that success is feasible πŸ˜‰

    Reply
    • I don’t think that’s possible, Ehud. Also, no Linux distro is better than DSM for Synology’s hardware and you can use ext4 instead of Btrfs. Anyhow, it seems you know just enough to be dangerous. πŸ™‚

      Reply

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