WD did everyone a favor when they reorganized their products under color-coded branding a few years ago. With the Blue (mainstream), Green (quiet and cool) and Black (performance) lines well laid out, consumers have a much easier time picking out the right drive for their application, rather than poring over spec sheets and complex model numbers. And now there's another line to add to that list: Red. Designed specfically to be used in 1-5 bay NAS devices, the Red line has hardware and software features that make it suited for that particular climate, while delivering impressive performance and reliability. WD has worked with major NAS manufacturer's to ensure compatibility with as many common NAS products as possible, and has a list of the tested devices here.

The secret sauce in these drives is the firmware, or as WD is calling it NASware. NAS devices in the home are often used for bulk storage of media, they may have some shared documents and be used as back-ups, too; but they're most often used to store movies, music and images. ATA streaming command is featured in NASware, to alter the behavior of the drive while streaming media, in an effort to ensure smooth playback, even while serving mutliple streams. They've also included error correction optimizations to prevent a drive from dropping out of a RAID array while it chases down a piece of corrupt data. The downside is that you might see an artifact on the screen briefly while streaming a movie, the upside is that you won't have playback pause for a few seconds, or for good depending on your configuration, while the drive drops off the RAID to fix the error. 

Then there's the matter of performance. With quoted performance of around 150 MB/s these drives are nudging into Black territory. WD's new balance mechanism contributes to this. By actively balancing the drive during use there's no need to slow the drive down to prevent damage, so performance remains high. There's also a reported power savings, which WD says will make up the price delta for these drives over the rest of the line through your power bill. Speaking of price, the MSRP for the 3.5" 1TB, 2TB and 3TB drives are $109, $139 and $189, respectively. And these drives are available at your favorite e-tailer starting today. Ganesh is patiently awaiting our review samples so he can put them through the ringer and see how they do. 

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  • kenthaman - Tuesday, July 10, 2012 - link

    for the full review!! I'd really like to see these drives put up against the Caviar series (Green, Blue, Black) to confirm WD's rating. I'd also like to see how these drives compare to their AV-GP drives. I've looked at these in the past as an option for my NAS and would like to see how these two compare.

    Also, if possible could testing be done with a SANS Digital enclosure? They weren't on the tested partner list and I'd like to see if/how well these drives operate in their products.

    Cheers!
    Reply
  • p05esto - Tuesday, July 10, 2012 - link

    Where are the 4TB hard drives? I've been sitting here waiting for over a year now. Jumping up to 3TB just isn't enough (from 2TB) for all my movies and stuff, I'd rather go right to 4+. The prices are high and there is little selection right now, the feedback on 4TB looks like they are a little unreliable as well. Reply
  • JasonInofuentes - Tuesday, July 10, 2012 - link

    The top capacity is always a fringe case when it comes to market. The people looking for the absolute largest capacity are likely willing to pay a huge premium for the pleasure. So while their margins stay high, that's partially a result of limiting supply. And there's the risk that they make more of them and they don't move at even a reduced price, which in this period of recovery isn't something they'd want to risk. Just be glad prices are finally starting to drift towards the good old days. Reply
  • tuxRoller - Tuesday, July 10, 2012 - link

    For all you media archivers, take a look at Snapraid. It's not exactly raid since it's not realtime, but it provides single or double parity protection (with the developer working on triple parity). Amongst its biggest advantages are that each disk is its own file system so you can lose more than your number of parity disks but not lose any data other than that which was on the failer disks (since there is no striping). The other nice thing is that you can use different sized disks and you get the sum of their space rather than the sum of the highest common denominator. Lastly, it's oss:)
    Sorry, not trying to sound like an advertisment, but before I discovered snapraid TLER was a concern since I didn't want to purchase new disks for the array. Frankly, an article on it might be interesting. Well, maybe an article comparing the various raid-like solutions such as unraid, flexraid and drobo (I've never used drobo but, iirc, they don't use a standard raid level), as well as snapraid.
    Reply
  • tjoynt - Tuesday, July 10, 2012 - link

    Is there any indication that these drive will also work better on a BYO NAS? I'm specifically hoping for Areca controller support. Reply
  • brshoemak - Tuesday, July 10, 2012 - link

    There's really not 'controller support' needed for hard drives that are designed for hardware RAID controllers. I have found that Areca HBAs are pretty flexible when it comes to drives. Again, just be sure that the drives are made for hardware RAID usage where the drive does not spend much time performing its own error correction. Reply
  • Rumpelstiltstein - Tuesday, July 10, 2012 - link

    Would these be better for a RAID 1 mass storage array to complement an SSD? Reply
  • kextyn - Wednesday, July 11, 2012 - link

    Is it just me or do these drives sound a lot like the AV-GP drives? Similar prices, similar features... It seems like they're just making it easier for the masses to understand what the drives are for. Reply
  • ypsylon - Tuesday, July 17, 2012 - link

    How they cope with RAID environment. Running "Blacks" in RAID setups for few years now (hardware ctrl/TLER enabled) never had any problems with those. Simply refused to pay for RE versions. Price difference was prohibitive for enabled by default TLER function. Reply

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