Few pieces of technology I’ve used in my escapades as Gadget Hunter have been as transformative as a network-attached storage device. My previous favorite NAS was Synology’s DiskStation 1520+, but the company’s 1522+ is even more essential now, thanks to the addition of one key feature.
This post contains affiliate links. Cult of Mac may earn a commission when you use our links to buy items.
Synology DiskStation 1522 review
First, let’s talk specs for a second. Synology’s DiskStation 1522+ is a five-bay network-attached storage device built for power users and small businesses. I’ll always say yes to more drive space, but the five-drive capacity is a sweet spot, providing plenty of space for almost everyone. (If you plan on storing 8K or 12K video, you’ll need something like a Thunderbolt raid array to efficiently move those massive files around.)
If you want, you can use mechanical hard drives or SSDs to load the 1522+. The NAS also supports two NVMe drives, which act as a read and write cache. Those can increase read speeds for commonly read files, or drastically boost writes to speeds faster than what the hard drives could handle.
What I love about this device is the company’s exclusive Synology Hybrid Raid feature, which allows you to mix and max any drives you want in the NAS without needing to match drives, like you do with other NAS brands. This is huge for me, because I always have spare drives lying around. With Synology’s tech, they can be given a second life as a NAS drive.
Now with (optional) 10GbE networking
But, without a doubt, the best new feature in the 1522+, which retails for $699, is the available 10GbE networking compatibility. (This requires the purchase of Synology’s $140 10GbE expansion card.)
The previous model in Synology’s 15 series, the DiskStation 1520+, came with the usual run-of-the-mill 1GbE speeds, which meant data transfers maxed out at around 110 MBps. With the optional 10GbE card installed in the 1522+, depending on file size, I’m now getting transfer speeds between 500 and 1,110 MBps! That is a bonkers increase in speed, and it leads me to one of my favorite uses for the 1522+.
I edit a lot of video, so I routinely need to move big files. With 10GbE speeds, files that took me 30-plus minutes to transfer now take only three or four minutes. I now watch gleefully as my data transfers whiz by, and I can get back to editing with hardly any waiting.
But more than that, I can now live my dream of editing directly off the network drive, just like the big dogs do at companies like Lucasfilm. This means I can keep huge video files off my Mac’s drive entirely, but have them at the ready if I need to use them for some future video. That’s a big and welcome change in my creative workflow, and it means I don’t need to waste time offloading files when my hard drive gets too full.
With the transfer speeds I’m currently achieving, I have no problem editing 4K30 or even 8K24 videos directly off the 1522+.
You can depend on Synology apps
But the 1522+’s talents go far beyond being a place to store files. The 15 series Synology devices are like the Swiss Army knives of NAS. Synology provides a whole suite of apps that replace common apps and services you may already use, like Dropbox or iCloud Photos. That’s right, with a 1522+, you have your own always-on, totally secure and completely private file-sharing service.
You also can upload your entire iCloud library to your NAS to safely store all your photos and videos, and use the Synology Photos app to keep your iPhone Camera Roll backed up. (Synology Photos is also a nice a little app for viewing photos and videos. It’s available on iPhone, iPad, Apple TV and Android.
You also can use the 1522+ as a Plex server (more on this later), dev or mail server, and more.
I’ve been using a Synology NAS for years now, and I still haven’t discovered all that they can do.
One caveat: No built-in GPU
The one thing I would call out is that, if you’re a heavy Plex user, the 1522+ doesn’t have a built-in GPU like the previous 1520+ does. This isn’t a deal-breaker for me. But if you plan to stream a lot of 4K video, it means your CPU is going to be doing the encoding/decoding, and will be less available for other simultaneous functions.
This probably isn’t going to be noticeable for many people. But if you plan on using the 1522+ in an office setting, where multiple people utilize it at the same time, it could be a limitation. In that case, you might want to consider the older 1520+ model instead — especially if you don’t need 10GbE.
Bottom line: This is the NAS to get
I love the Synology line of NAS devices. They’re so unbelievably useful in so many ways, I don’t think I would live without one again. And with available 10GbE, the 1522+ addresses the biggest weakness of the 1520+, making the NAS massively more useful for creators and video editors.
I couldn’t recommend 1522+ more highly. It’s a powerful and fast NAS powered by one of the best NAS operating systems made today. It’s also rock-solid reliable and crammed with practical features. The only thing I would add is a Thunderbolt port so I could get even faster speeds.