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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  • abhaxus - Sunday, November 23, 2014 - link

    According to WD, the Red Pro is rated at 1 in 10^15 not 10^14 before URE. Are you working from some other data or is your comparison chart inaccurate? Planning on purchasing several drives in the next few weeks and that was going to be the key factor in my decision.
  • ganeshts - Sunday, November 23, 2014 - link

    Thanks for bringing this to my attention.

    When the WD Red Pro was launched, the datasheet had URE < 10 in 10^15, which I had denoted as 1 in 10^14 in our initial review. Backed up by a third-party post on another forum here:

    It looks like WD has fixed this 'error' in their latest datasheet. I will update the table shortly.
  • abhaxus - Monday, November 24, 2014 - link

    I do remember that from their launch now that you mention it. Still torn about my purchase.
  • Julian Boolean - Saturday, December 5, 2015 - link

    Fact : As of Today (Dec 5th 2015) the Western Digital Spec Sheet for The Red Pro STILL lists the URE rate as 10 in 10^15. It is not "a mistake in the specs sheet". It has been listed that way since product launch and has never been corrected. 1 in 10^14 = 10 in 10^15. This is a 1 in 10^14 drive. I called WD myself to confirm this. Three days later I got the answer I suspected all along. It IS 10 in 10^15 ( which equals 1 in 10^14). This is just clever marketing, and it irks me to no end that countless review sites such as this have incorrectly listed the URE rates.

    I cannot tell you how many review sites have made the mistake of listing it as 1 in 10^15.
  • jota83 - Monday, November 24, 2014 - link

    Read throughly the backblaze report on reliability of hard-disks, as pointed out above. HGST (former hitachi) build very robust hard disks, and they deal with vibration pretty good. Thats one of the factors (not sure if mentioned in the article) that the NAS deskstar incorporates,and which could be rated as "enterprise only".
  • Mikemk - Sunday, November 23, 2014 - link

    I'd like to see reviewed
  • AbRASiON - Sunday, November 23, 2014 - link

    7200rpm? Sorry but as far as I'm concerned, that's not a NAS drive. Nope nope nope nope and nope. Too hot, too noisy, silly - just silly design choice.
  • Daiz - Sunday, November 23, 2014 - link

    hmm, you might want to tell the likes of HP about that since they let you stuff their NAS appliances with up to 15k RPM drives. Not all NAS appliances sit in your living room ;)
  • MikeMurphy - Sunday, November 23, 2014 - link

    Reliability of HDDs has become a huge problem. I bought this drive as it's apparently the most reliable consumer mechanical drive out there. I was hoping there would be some commentary on this.
  • NoSoMo - Monday, November 24, 2014 - link

    Anyone interested in HDDs and their reliability should check this article out...

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