Many of our readers will know of Synology as the producer of a range of user-friendly NAS devices scaling from a single drive to hundreds. Well, back in June Synology announced that they would be entering both the all-flash NAS market, as well as producing the SSDs for those NAS devices themselves. Today we are looking at one of Synology’s homegrown SSDs in the SAT5200-960G. Based on SATA, Synology has taken a much more enterprise-focused approach to their SSD design, with a heavy emphasis on reliability over raw performance.
We will be looking at the SAT5200-960G as an individual drive, though the more likely deployment scenario for this drive would be part of an array of disks attached to a Synology NAS. We are aware of the limitations of looking at a drive like this out of the context of its intended use, but still consider it a worthwhile exercise.
Synology SAT5200-960G Overview
Outwardly, the Synology SAT5200-960G is a normal looking 2.5″ 7mm SATA SSD, and upon first glance looks essentially like any other SATA SSD.
That impression immediately changed for me when picking up the drive; relative to other 2.5″ SSDs that I have handled recently, the SAT5200-960G was physically heavier than I expected, weighing in at 68g; for reference, an older Samsung 840 Pro clocks in at 43g. Once opened up, the reason for the extra weight became clear: the SAT5200-960G has a lot going on inside.
The SAT5200-960G PCB is jam-packed with components. First and foremost, hardware power loss protection circuity is present on this SSD, ensuring both high reliability and consistent performance. You can read a bit more about why PLP is important in some server workloads in our piece What is the ZFS ZIL SLOG and what makes a good one. This side of the PCB is also home to the Phison PS3112-S12DC controller. This is an enterprise-focused controller that enables those PLP capacitors and other reliability features.
Adorning both sides of the PCB are the Intel 96-layer TLC NAND packages. Unlike consumer-grade SSDs, there seems to be significant overprovisioning of NAND on this drive. We normally see the NA7AG64A0A deployed as 128GB chips. Assuming these 10x packages are 128GB each, there would be 1280GB of NAND is present on the drive, with 320GB reserved by the controller. If they were only 96GB packages, the drive would have no spare area (960GB) and we would not see a write endurance rating this high (1.3 DWPD.) Typically a 960GB data center SSD has 1024GB of NAND, but with 10x NAND packages that would yield 102.4GB per package which seems unlikely. Synology would not confirm the component-level details, but it is possible this is a drive with one of the higher over-provisioning ratios in this class of drive.
Synology SAT5200 Specs
The Synology SAT5200 SSDs range from 480GB to 1920GB of capacity. Here are the key specs:
Our review unit is the mid-point of the SAT5200 line. Constrained by the SATA III interface there is no significant performance deviation between the smaller and larger drives. Rated at 1.3 DWPD, the overall endurance of 2290TB is very good, especially in comparison to consumer-grade drives. Even compared to other NAS-centric SSDs, the SAT5200-960G endurance rating is excellent; the WD Red 1TB SSD offers only 600TB, while the Seagate Ironwolf 110 960GB is 1750GB.
CrystalDiskInfo is a bit more confused by this SSD than many others and is unable to interpret many of the attributes gleaned from SMART. We suspect most will simply be monitored by Synology NAS units, but we wanted to see general compatibility as well.
Test System Configuration
We are using the following configuration for this test:
- Motherboard: ASUS PRIME X570-P
- CPU: AMD Ryzen 5 3600 (6C/12T)
- RAM: 2x 16GB DDR4-3200 UDIMMs
Our testing uses the Synology SAT5200-960G as the boot drive for the system, installed in the SATA6G_1 slot on the motherboard. The drive is filled to 85% capacity with data and then some is deleted, leaving around 60% used space on the volume.
Next, we are going to get into our performance testing.