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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  • Impulses - Tuesday, September 8, 2015 - link

    My 75GB 75GXP failed slowly, I dunno if it was related to the main source of failure everyone was seeing... It made for some interesting surprises, like waking up to an empty Desktop because the directory had been mysteriously renamed Desotop (amazingly everything within was intact).
  • MHz Tweaker - Wednesday, September 9, 2015 - link

    Yes, I think I remember those GXP-Deathstars "click click clickety click"
  • Samus - Monday, September 7, 2015 - link

    I prefer HGST drives, but really just the older ones like the 2TB and 3TB 5400RPM Deskstar Coolspins. They were nearly as fast as most 7200RPM drives of the day.

    The He6 is just too expensive, although they seem to be very reliable and that was the real concern at the beginning for that technology.

    And until recently, Hitachi/HGST didn't have a 6TB non-Helium model available. They are clearly behind Seagate and WD on density, but ahead of them on reliability. Sometimes keeping it old-school is the best path. Look at Mazda with Skyactive. No turbo charging, no fancy dual-clutch or CVT transmissions, just a modern lightweight engine with as much friction removed as possible mated to a tweaked slushbox and it still beats every single competitor in fuel economy, aside from Hybrids, while also being among the few vehicles manufactures that have not had transmission or engine related recalls.
  • Adul - Tuesday, September 8, 2015 - link

    Not to mention taht they are great to drive cards :)
  • Adul - Tuesday, September 8, 2015 - link

    Cars! should not reply from phone.
  • yeeeeman - Monday, September 7, 2015 - link

    When do these ancient objects go extinct? And why didn't you include at least an ssd for comparison?
  • damianrobertjones - Monday, September 7, 2015 - link

    When you and I can afford to buy a 6TB SSD version. That probably means when we're dead.
  • FunBunny2 - Monday, September 7, 2015 - link

    I wonder if it's possible to stuff 6TB of NAND, at any node size, into 2.5" form factor?
  • KateH - Monday, September 7, 2015 - link

  • FunBunny2 - Tuesday, September 8, 2015 - link


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