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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  • Samus - Tuesday, September 8, 2015 - link

    At the current rate, it'll be only a few years before NAND hits parity with magnetic storage in capacity and price.

    3D (verticle) NAND and Intel's 3D X-Point are going to revolutionize storage as we know it.

    X-Point will slowly make NAND a cheap commodity for the consumer sector (abandoned by the enterprise sector for X-Point) and NAND will be so cheap to produce by that point (it's 30 year old technology) that it'll be the common medium. It has already killed virtually every other form of portable storage (floppy disks, tapes, CD/DVD/Bluray, etc) with the only worthy exception being large capacity (2-4TB) 2.5" portable hard disks. It's only a matter of time before 4TB SSD's cost nearly the same as 4TB hard disks, and hard disk platter density is already hit some physical barriers, hence the need for shingled recording and other reliability/performance sacrifices.

    But even then, soon,
  • Souka - Monday, September 7, 2015 - link

    SSDs aren't for NAS due to pricing

    If you put a SSD in, many of the charts would be unreadable due to scaling issues.

    Also, if the NAS is used for large number of writes, the SSD reliability would be a factor
  • melgross - Monday, September 7, 2015 - link

    Reliability would not be a factor. Large financial institutions are using them for transaction processing, and few things require more write reliability than that.
  • FunBunny2 - Tuesday, September 8, 2015 - link

    The advantage of SSD is, according to legend at least, a more consistent life time: just retire them at x% of warranty, less infant mortality and random death (getting run over by a bus, in human terms).
  • MrSpadge - Monday, September 7, 2015 - link

    The strong DAS performance bodes well for the new 6 TB Black model, which is probably physically similar but with different firmware settings.
  • Wwhat - Monday, September 7, 2015 - link

    Why is the article listing the WD red pro with the addition 'star NAS'? Since when is WD using the 'star' term? I can't imagine them doing so, and especially see a company market something with 'red star' these days :)
    A quick web search shows only anadtech adds 'star' the the name.
  • Morawka - Monday, September 7, 2015 - link

    disappointing performance. basically every other nas drive on the market is faster than these. HGST and Seagate dominating.
  • star-affinity - Tuesday, September 8, 2015 - link

    According to the benchmarks in this article – as a DAS drive the WD Red Pro seems nice – but it for some reason seems not as good when used as a NAS drive, agreed on that.
  • Arbie - Monday, September 7, 2015 - link

    We want eight and we won't wait.
  • Gigaplex - Monday, September 7, 2015 - link

    Colour me disappointed that there is no analysis of acoustic behaviour. My NAS is by far the loudest device in my room due to the 4 WD Red (non pro) drives in it, and they're supposed to be one of the quietest drives available.

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