Introduction and Testbed Setup

Hard drives continue to remain the storage medium of choice for applications where capacity and cost factors outweigh performance requirements. Vendors have also realized that enterprise hard drives are an overkill for some applications, but the recently launched NAS-targeted drives do not deliver the necessary performance for those. In order to cater to that market, Western Digital introduced the WD Red Pro lineup a few months back. Last week, Seagate launched their competitor, the Enterprise NAS HDD.

We have already had comprehensive coverage of a number of 4 TB NAS drives and a few 6 TB ones. In this review, we will look at what the Seagate Enterprise NAS HDD (ST6000VN0001) brings to the market and how it compares against the other 6 TB drives that have been evaluated before.

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 Seagate Enterprise NAS HDD against other drives targeting the NAS market. The list of drives that we will be looking at today is listed below.

  1. Seagate Enterprise NAS HDD 6 TB [ ST6000VN0001-1SF17Z ]
  2. Western Digital Red 6 TB [ WDC WD60EFRX-68MYMN0 ]
  3. Seagate Enterprise Capacity 3.5 HDD v4 6 TB [ ST6000NM0024-1HT17Z ]
  4. 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 WD Red targets 1- 8 bay NAS systems in the tower form factor. The Seagate Enterprise NAS HDD is meant for rackmount units up to 16 bays, but is not intended to be a replacement for drives such as the Seagate Enterprise Capacity v4 meant for higher-end enterprise use. The HGST Ultrastar He6 targets capacity-sensitive datacenter applications.

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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  • cm2187 - Wednesday, December 10, 2014 - link

  • MikeMurphy - Wednesday, December 10, 2014 - link

  • tocker - Wednesday, December 10, 2014 - link

    We could place bets. I'm going for a 40% failure rate inside of 3 years.
    Thats probably being generous.
  • Laststop311 - Thursday, December 11, 2014 - link

    Hitachi has the lowest failure rate in a massively huge deployment of HDD's in a cloud storage facility. Gives you a pretty good idea just how amazing they are.
  • ddriver - Sunday, December 14, 2014 - link

    Yeah, but that's not a given, remember back in the days where those same deskstar disks were called deathstar cuz they were dropping down life flies?

    It would be nice of more cloud storage provides post their stats so that regular people know what to buy.
  • Zap - Wednesday, December 10, 2014 - link

    What RPM are these drives? I know manufacturers like to obfuscate this information, but as a consumer I'd like to know.
  • wavetrex - Wednesday, December 10, 2014 - link

    That raw read/write speed is typical for 1TB platters on a 7200rpm drive.
    My guess is that speed is the comfort zone for these drives, and they probably spin down to 5400 when idling to reduce power consumption
  • MrSpadge - Wednesday, December 10, 2014 - link

    No matter what WD likes to tell you with "IntelliPower" etc. drives do not normally run at different speeds. The mechanics, head aerodynamics / fly height and everything must be tailored to a specific spindle speed. Changing it on the fly has so far been unfeasible and wouldn't be much quicker than simply spinning down at idle, yet provide a only a small fraction of the power savings.
  • hlmcompany - Wednesday, December 10, 2014 - link

    IntelliPower and WD don't say that the drive changes speed during operation. An IntelliPower drive is a fixed speed, but set to meet certain power requirements. Because of this not all IntelliPower drives are at the same spindle speed.
  • Navvie - Wednesday, December 10, 2014 - link

    When 'IntelliPower' was first introduced WD were very secretive about exactly what it meant. Although there are now sources, their vague comments on exactly what IntelliPower is lead people to the conclusion that the drives were adjusting speed depending on demand.

    I believe the clever guys at SPCR were the first to determine the speed of IntelliPower drives by looking at the drives harmonics.

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