The traditional market for hard drives (PCs and notebooks) is facing a decline due to the host of advantages provided by SSDs. However, the explosion in the amount of digital content generated by households and businesses has resulted in the rapid growth of the SMB / SOHO / consumer NAS market. Hard drive vendors have jumped on to this opportunity by tweaking the firmware and manufacturing process of their drives to create lineups specifically suited for the NAS market.

We have already had comprehensive coverage of a number of 4 TB NAS drives and a few 6 TB ones. One of the drives that we couldn't obtain in time for our initial 4 TB roundup was the HGST Deskstar NAS. After getting sampled last month, we put the 4 TB version of the HGST Deskstar NAS through our evaluation routine for NAS drives. While most of our samples are barebones, HGST sampled us their retail kit, which includes mounting screws and an installation guide.

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

  1. HGST Deskstar NAS (HDN724040ALE640)
  2. WD Red Pro (WD4001FFSX-68JNUN0)
  3. Seagate Enterprise Capacity 3.5" HDD v4 (ST4000NM0024-1HT178)
  4. WD Red (WD40EFRX-68WT0N0)
  5. Seagate NAS HDD (ST4000VN000-1H4168)
  6. WD Se (WD4000F9YZ-09N20L0)
  7. Seagate Terascale (ST4000NC000-1FR168)
  8. WD Re (WD4000FYYZ-01UL1B0)
  9. Seagate Constellation ES.3 (ST4000NM0033-9ZM170)
  10. Toshiba MG03ACA400
  11. HGST Ultrastar 7K4000 SAS (HUS724040ALS640)

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 and Seagate NAS HDD 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. Seagate Constellation ES.3, Seagate Enterprise Capacity v4 and the Toshiba MG03ACA400 which target enterprise applications requiring durability under heavy workloads. The WD Se and the Seagate Terascale target the capacity-sensitive cold storage / data center market.

The HGST Deskstar NAS is supposed to slot in-between the WD Red and the WD Red Pro. It doesn't specify an upper limit on the number of bays, but mentions only desktop form factor systems. Like other NAS drives, it is rated for 24x7 operation and includes a rotational vibration sensor for increased reliability.

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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  • Sabresiberian - Saturday, November 22, 2014 - link

    The Deskstar looks like a good choice for its purpose, but I have to wonder why it is the only one in the bunch with a 3-yr warranty instead of 5-yr.
  • cen - Saturday, November 22, 2014 - link

    I checked WD Red 4TB and Seagate NAS 4TB and both have 3 year warranty. Mind to explain?
  • ganeshts - Saturday, November 22, 2014 - link

    I double-checked my tables and indeed the Red and the NAS HDD have only 3 year warranties. Basically, 5 year warranties are only for enterprise-targeted drives (and the WD Red Pro).

    In effect, the extra $15 for the Deskstar NAS is only for the extra RPM / performance. If you need a 5-year warranty, you need to go the enterprise drive route.
  • Samus - Sunday, November 23, 2014 - link

    Because you don't need a 5 year warranty with these drives. I point you to a study outside the scope of Anandtech's capacity:

    Having used Hitachi drives in multiple applications from IO intensive NAS to cold storage, the results Backblaze has match my own. The 75GXP days are long passed us, and from here, all we can hope is WD (my second go-to manufacture for drives, and owner of HGST) will use Hitachi technology. Seagate has fallen apart from their prime "Barracuda 7200.7" days. I pulled one of those out of a desktop a year ago, it was a decade old and still quiet as a kitten. 95,000 hours on it, 4,000 power cycles. Simply amazing for a consumer class drive.
  • josue16 - Monday, November 24, 2014 - link

    Thanks for the link. I was looking for this.
  • Laststop311 - Sunday, November 23, 2014 - link

    sabresiberian the warranties aren't everything. Hitachi has the lowest failure rate in my experience and in googles experience and I'm sure the link samus gave will also say that i dont even need to look because it's just a fact hitachi's are like the energizer battery they keep going and going and going...
  • CaedenV - Tuesday, November 25, 2014 - link

    the warranty that you never have to use is by far the best warranty. Especially when it comes to data storage
  • chrcoluk - Saturday, October 20, 2018 - link

    not to mention what value is a warranty on a hdd, warranties dont recover lost data.

    HGST drives are the best on the market, I just wished they made 5400rpm models as a 7200rpm drive is louder.

    Just because something has a longer warranty it doesnt mean it will last longer, warranties are used as a marketing tool now days.
  • Laststop311 - Sunday, November 23, 2014 - link

    Well in my 20 years of dealing with pc's I've gone through many hard drives from many manufacturers and I can confidently say Hitachi has given me the fewest problems of all the current manufacturers. If i had to rank them I would say Seagate has been the absolute worst for me by far. They are so bad I once had a drive fail the warranty replacement fail within a month then the replacement to that replacement fail in the first week. Many other seagates failed too I've had over a dozen seagate failures in 20 years. Next worse would be Toshiba i think about 5 ot 6 toshiba drives have failed on me. Samsung about the same 5 or 6 failures. Western digital has done me pretty well i can only think of 3 times a WD drive has failed on me. Now hitachi only once. I have a 120GB hitachi drive that is going strong still the thing wont die. I have a stack of old hitachi drives that still work fine just have no use for such low densities. I dont know if its random luck or chance but I have nothing but good times with hitachi drives. Google seems to agree I read a report for them where they had a HUGE data sample on drive failure rates and hitachi was number 1 for them too with lowest failure rates of all brands. I don't think it is luck, Hitachi just really makes the best hard drives. I just hope this reliability does not change because WD bought them. But at least they were bought by WD and not some 1 else as WD isn't terrible like seagate and toshiba and samsung especially seagate, buying a seagate is throwing your money away.
  • vol7ron - Wednesday, November 26, 2014 - link

    I'm sure experience would vary based on how many drives you own, what density the drives are, where you live or where the drives are located (external environment / thermals), what kind of actions the system is doing, OS / BIOS setup.

    There's a lot of factors, which is why its tough to draw from a person's experience and why it's more suitable to go to sites that have testbeds set up.

    The reason I'm commenting because I thought it was Seagate or Hitatchi that had something that became the "DeathStar" because the drives would always fail. Vendors have had bad batches of products, but also good batches. They're almost like cars, so you have to make sure you're getting one of the better quality ones the manufacturer is putting out and not judge the manufacturer based on all the models they're making. Just like wine, some years are better than others.

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