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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  • DanNeely - Tuesday, September 8, 2015 - link

    Except for upper end enterprise it's still probably too early to add 10gbe to a nas test suite.

    A few years back I remember reading that there was a process threshold that a lot of people were expecting to dramatically drive down the high power cost of sending a 10gb signal over twisted pair connections. Unfortunately I don't remember if it was 14nm; in which case we should start to see lower power hardware within a year or 10 nm; in which case we'll probably end up waiting until closer to 2020 before getting in in our boxes.
  • Hannibal80 - Wednesday, September 9, 2015 - link

    Yes, that's absolutely true, my nas waste same power on the 10gbe adapter and on cpu and that's crazy. Still, with HD and then 4k videos, raw pics near or over 50MB each, old good hdd disks which continue to improve, 1gbe is going to be too limiting...
    2020 is really far away! ☺
  • Jaybus - Wednesday, September 9, 2015 - link

    We could well see copper Ethernet being replaced by then. IBM just announced in May a 100 Gb/s transceiver using the first fully integrated wavelength multiplexed chip. The optical components are on-chip along side the electronic components. This integration is what will bring the price of optical Ethernet down to parity with copper. It will be a huge bump in bandwidth and power reduction. It is telling that the 100G consortium is already increasing the max distance to 1 km.
  • Sivar - Tuesday, September 8, 2015 - link

    I've been using the Western Digital's NAS with these drives, WD EX2100, since April. Very solid unit. Really easy to set up, and includes advanced features when needed such as link aggregation.
  • - Tuesday, September 8, 2015 - link

    thats great can't wait to get my hands on these
  • ex_User - Wednesday, September 9, 2015 - link

    I believe you have an error in specs. "Non-Recoverable Read Errors / Bits Read" for Red Pro is "<10 in 10^15", not 10^14.
  • asmian - Thursday, September 10, 2015 - link

    No, they are right - 10 in 10^15 is exactly the same as 1 in 10^14. It's written/marketed that way to confuse and look much better than it really is.

    Using a less than sign doesn't really change the base order of magnitude - eg. 9 in 10^15 would be consistent with their PDF table claim and it is still almost 10 times worse than any enterprise drive at 1 in 10^15 URE, which is why non-enterprise are not worth buying at these fail-likely sizes if you value your data.
  • ex_User - Thursday, September 10, 2015 - link

    Well, that misleading marketing works very well on laymen like me -- only after your post have I noticed the <1/<10 trick.
  • leexgx - Saturday, September 12, 2015 - link

    i agree that <1/<10 is Very misleading, so they have reduced or not added more error correction on these drives
  • leexgx - Saturday, September 12, 2015 - link

    but if you getting unrecoverable read errors at that point you should replace the HDD as there is a problem with the drive, like i need to replace my segate {as the theme goes with seagate drives} as its slowly developing reallocated sectors, surprisingly its still working fine

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