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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  • josue16 - Monday, November 24, 2014 - link

    So, which of the 4 TB drives are more reliable? Are there companies that report HDD reliability?
  • jota83 - Monday, November 24, 2014 - link

    Not really.... just MTBF and unrecoverable errors rate. The one that is collecting data since its foundation is, as stated multiple times along the comments, backblaze. They are collecting a lot of data and reporting those to the community in a periodic basis. They have surveyed several branched, and they have a pool of more than 30k disks and growing. Even if they are a very respectable firm, their strategy to offer unlimited backup for a very low feed lead them to look for a design that while being robust is very cheap... hence the NAS disks "consumer" grade. I find fascinating what they have achieved in no time! You might want to check at their blog, with plenty of nice information. Cheers!
  • Jeff Biscuits - Tuesday, December 9, 2014 - link

    Anyone happen to know when the 5TB and 6TB versions are due to hit UK? They're listed on the HGST website but when I look for them for sale I only find them available on US retailers
  • alecweder - Wednesday, February 4, 2015 - link

    The biggest issue with RAID are the unrecoverable read errors.
    If you loose the drive, the RAID has to read 100% of the remaining drives even if there is no data on portions of the drive. If you get an error on rebuild, the entire array will die.

    A UER on SATA of 1 in 10^14 bits read means a read failure every 12.5 terabytes. A 500
    GB drive has 0.04E14 bits, so in the worst case rebuilding that drive in a five-drive
    RAID-5 group means transferring 0.20E14 bits. This means there is a 20% probability
    of an unrecoverable error during the rebuild. Enterprise class disks are less prone to this problem:
  • hansmuff - Thursday, March 5, 2015 - link

    You can circumvent these issues by using ZFS. Put that on a box with ECC RAM and back it up online, and you've got a pretty reliable solution.
  • willis936 - Saturday, May 9, 2015 - link

    I've done receiver testing on sata drives before and I can tell you while drives are only tested to 10^-14 BER with 95% confidence that if the channel is clean and both the host and hard drive have good phys and you don't do something like put your phone on the hard drive then you won't see a single phy related error until something fails. A URE refers to a drive failure to read a bit. It's unrelated to sata as you implied.
  • comomolo - Tuesday, May 17, 2016 - link

    Is it really worth it to get these NAS drives vs their regular versions? My use case is a home NAS, Linux software RAID or ZFS (no HBA). Will I miss anything by not using the NAS version of the drive? The difference in price is not trivial in Spain (some 20% more for the NAS model).

    Thanks for any help.
  • Hisated936 - Saturday, June 9, 2018 - link

    Comcast won't send you your neglected password On top of the homepage, you must see the Sign in link, Click it to get redirected.
  • ffarzan - Tuesday, June 29, 2021 - link

    I bumped into your web site checking spec. on Hitachi 4TB, and saw your comparison chart , extremely useful,
    do you have any such comparison table for Seagate, or by Model No. across any given brand, and manufacturer ?? , Thanks

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