Introduction and Testbed Setup

Despite the increasing affordability of SSDs, hard drives continue to remain the storage medium of choice for applications where capacity and cost factors outweigh performance requirements. Specialty drives have become the order of the day, with hard drive vendors having separate lineups to target different market segments such as desktop computers, SOHO NAS units, SMB / SME NAS units and NVRs. Western Digital was the first to introduce a 6 TB drive in the SOHO NAS drive space, but Seagate came back a few months later with a souped-up 6 TB Enterprise NAS HDD targeting the SMB / SME NAS units. Last month, Western Digital finally released the 6 TB version of the WD Red Pro for the SMB / SME NAS units.

We have already had comprehensive coverage of a number of 4 TB NAS drives and a few 6 TB ones. As more high-capacity drives started getting into the market, we started reviewing them standalone. The results from our evaluation of the WD Red Pro 6 TB is presented in this review.

The correct choice of hard drives for a NAS system is influenced by a number of factors. These include expected workloads, performance requirements and power consumption restrictions, amongst others. In this review, we will discuss some of these aspects while comparing the WD Red Pro against other drives targeting the NAS market. The list of drives that we will be looking at today is listed below.

  1. Western Digital Red Pro [ WDC WD6001FFWX-68Z39N0 ]
  2. HGST Deskstar NAS [ HDN726060ALE610 ]
  3. Seagate Enterprise NAS HDD 6 TB [ ST6000VN0001-1SF17Z ]
  4. Western Digital Red 6 TB [ WDC WD60EFRX-68MYMN0 ]
  5. Seagate Enterprise Capacity 3.5 HDD v4 6 TB [ ST6000NM0024-1HT17Z ]
  6. HGST Ultrastar He6 6 TB [ HUS726060ALA640 ]

Prior to proceeding with the actual review, it must be made clear that the above drives do not target the same specific market. For example, the HGST Deskstar NAS and WD Red are for 1- 8 bay NAS systems in the tower form factor. The WD Red Pro is meant for rackmount units up to 16 bays, but is not intended to be a replacement for drives such as the WD Re.

Testbed Setup and Testing Methodology

Our NAS drive evaluation methodology consists of putting the units to test under both DAS and NAS environments. We first start off with a feature set comparison of the various drives, followed by a look at the raw performance when connected directly to a SATA 6 Gbps port. In the same PC, we also evaluate the performance of the drive using some aspects of our direct attached storage (DAS) testing methodology. For evaluation in a NAS environment, we configure three drives of each model in a RAID-5 volume and process selected benchmarks from our standard NAS review methodology. Since our NAS drive testbed supports both SATA and SAS drives, but our DAS testbed doesn't, only SATA drives are subject to the DAS benchmarks.

We used two testbeds in our evaluation, one for benchmarking the raw drive and DAS performance and the other for evaluating performance when placed in a NAS unit.

AnandTech DAS Testbed Configuration
Motherboard Asus Z97-PRO Wi-Fi ac ATX
CPU Intel Core i7-4790
Memory Corsair Vengeance Pro CMY32GX3M4A2133C11
32 GB (4x 8GB)
DDR3-2133 @ 11-11-11-27
OS Drive Seagate 600 Pro 400 GB
Optical Drive Asus BW-16D1HT 16x Blu-ray Write (w/ M-Disc Support)
Add-on Card Asus Thunderbolt EX II
Chassis Corsair Air 540
PSU Corsair AX760i 760 W
OS Windows 8.1 Pro
Thanks to Asus and Corsair for the build components

In the above testbed, the hot swap bays of the Corsair Air 540 have to be singled out for special mention.
They were quite helpful in getting the drives processed in a fast and efficient manner for benchmarking. For NAS evaluation, we used the QNAP TS-EC1279U-SAS-RP. This is very similar to the unit we reviewed last year, except that we have a slightly faster CPU, more RAM and support for both SATA and SAS drives.

The NAS setup itself was subjected to benchmarking using our standard NAS testbed.

AnandTech NAS Testbed Configuration
Motherboard Asus Z9PE-D8 WS Dual LGA2011 SSI-EEB
CPU 2 x Intel Xeon E5-2630L
Coolers 2 x Dynatron R17
Memory G.Skill RipjawsZ F3-12800CL10Q2-64GBZL (8x8GB) CAS 10-10-10-30
OS Drive OCZ Technology Vertex 4 128GB
Secondary Drive OCZ Technology Vertex 4 128GB
Tertiary Drive OCZ Z-Drive R4 CM88 (1.6TB PCIe SSD)
Other Drives 12 x OCZ Technology Vertex 4 64GB (Offline in the Host OS)
Network Cards 6 x Intel ESA I-340 Quad-GbE Port Network Adapter
Chassis SilverStoneTek Raven RV03
PSU SilverStoneTek Strider Plus Gold Evolution 850W
OS Windows Server 2008 R2
Network Switch Netgear ProSafe GSM7352S-200

Thank You!

We thank the following companies for helping us out with our NAS testbed:

Specifications and Feature Set Comparison
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  • jragonsoul - Monday, September 7, 2015 - link

    I have used a few Red as storage drives before. Liking the 6TB bump.
  • Samus - Monday, September 7, 2015 - link

    It's all I use for server storage drives. Haven't had one fail. All the models I've ever deployed are 1TB and 2TB drives. It's amazing how these modern hard disks are somewhat competitive with low-end SSD's (aside from access time)
  • leexgx - Wednesday, October 21, 2015 - link

    funny as i did not realize i had a backblaze HDD it is i accuity have the ST31500341AS drive in my system right now (1300 days power on time 7500 stop start count due to HDD power save spin down)
    and its failing slowly bad sectors are racking up and "reported uncorrectable errors" are now starting to happen (not gone up from when i started copying the data to a WD RED 4TB same 1607) don't think i lost any data itself as "read error rate" and "hardware ECC recovered" are still the same (not that the stuff on it is that important to lose any way) just 70 extra relocations in last day meant it was time to copy data to another drive
  • imaheadcase - Monday, September 7, 2015 - link

    Streaming Not Supported Not Supported

    What does that even mean?
  • ganeshts - Monday, September 7, 2015 - link

    We covered the meanings of those table entries in a previous review:

    ... NCQ streaming feature which enables isochronous data transfers for multimedia streams while also improving performance of lower priority transfers. This feature could be very useful for media server and video editing use-cases....
  • A55A551N 11B2P - Thursday, September 10, 2015 - link

    so you're saying that the WD Red PRO's wouldn't be good for a central media server with up to 6 clients?
  • ddriver - Monday, September 7, 2015 - link

    Judging by consumer reviews, HGST Deskstar seems to have the upper hand when it comes to reliability.
  • Souka - Monday, September 7, 2015 - link

    I've got a pair of WD 1TB Re drives in my NAS... full, so been wanting to put a pair of 4TB or 6TB drives in.... the WD Reds would be great, except I'm also seeing a lot of issues.

    Granted, not bad as the Seagate drives!
  • Samus - Monday, September 7, 2015 - link

    I really don't recommend you follow backblaze statistics. They are collected under one use-case: cold storage. It's also important to note that all of their drives are consumer drives that lack firmware to change the harmonic vibration in cases with that many (72!!) drives. Most consumer drives are rated for installation in cases for 2-8 drives, with enterprise drives rated for up to 16 drives per chassis. Real data centers don't use pods like backblaze (who make their own) because no matter how you dampen the vibrations, these drives are not engineered to work in a large chassis together.

    All their data shows is Seagate drives suck as vibration resistance, with WD being slightly better and Hitachi cleaning the show. You know why? WD Red models and ALL Hitachi drives have the platter shaft locked at the TOP of the drive case; Seagate drives just have the shaft locked at the motor (bottom axis) which is for the most part adequate as long as vibration isn't an issue. This makes the drives cheaper, quieter, cooler and more efficient, and entirely adequate for consumer applications.
  • Souka - Tuesday, September 8, 2015 - link

    Cool info, thanks!

    I'm not too worried though since my NAS is running Raid-1 Drive fails, RMA it. In 3-5years I'll likely either upgrade/replace the drives and/or get a new NAS+drives

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