Feature Set Comparison

Enterprise hard drives such as the WD Re and WD Se come with features such as real time linear and rotational vibration correction, dual actuators to improve head positional accuracy, multi-axis shock sensors to detect and compensate for shock events and dynamic fly-height technology for increasing data access reliability. For the consumer NAS versions, Western Digital incorporates some features in firmware under the NASWare moniker, while Seagate has NASWorks. We have already covered some of these features in our WD Red review last year. These hard drives also expose some of their interesting firmware aspects through their SATA controller, but, before looking into those, let us compare the specifications of the four drives being considered today.

4 TB NAS Hard Drive Face-Off Contenders
  WD Red Seagate NAS HDD WD Se WD Re
Model Number WD40EFRX ST4000VN000 WD4000F9YZ WD4000FYYZ
Interface SATA 6 Gbps SATA 6 Gbps SATA 6 Gbps SATA 6 Gbps
Advanced Format (AF) Yes Yes Yes No (512N Sector Size)
Rotational Speed IntelliPower (5400 rpm) 5900 rpm 7200 rpm 7200 rpm
Cache 64 MB 64 MB 64 MB 64 MB
Rated Load / Unload Cycles 300K 600K 300K 600K
Non-Recoverable Read Errors / Bits Read 1 per 10E14 1 per 10E14 1 per 10E14 1 per 10E15
MTBF 1M 1M 800K 1.2M
Rated Workload ~120 - 150 TB/yr < 180 TB/yr? 180 TB/yr 550 TB/yr
Operating Temperature Range 0 - 70 C 0 - 70 C 5 - 55 C 5 - 55 C
Acoustics (Seek Average - dBA) 28 25 34 34
Physical Dimensions 4 in. x 5.787 in. x 1.028 in. / 680 grams 4 in. x 5.787 in. x 1.028 in. / 610 grams 4 in. x 5.787 in. x 1.028 in. / 750 grams 4 in. x 5.787 in. x 1.028 in. / 750 grams
Warranty 3 years 3 years 5 years 5 years
Pricing $213 $220 $280 $383

Some of the interesting aspects are highlighted in bold above. The Seagate model enjoys a 500 rpm advantage in rotational speed. So, it shouldn't be a surprise if it comes out in front in some of the benchmarks. It may also mean that the Seagate NAS HDD consumes more power compared to the WD Red. Seagate also rates the number of load / unload cycles at 600K for the NAS HDD (same as the WD Re). The WD Re and WD Se 4 TB versions weigh 750 grams each and they use five 800 GB platters. The WD Red weighs in at 680 g, but the Seagate NAS HDD (with four 1 TB platters) weighs only 610 g and comes in as the lightest of the lot. Considering the data at our disposal, it appears unlikely that the WD Red 4 TB has five platters, but, we have reached out to Western Digital to confirm the platter density in the unit (Update: WD got back to us with confirmation that the WD Red 4 TB version has four 1 TB platters).

A high level overview of the various supported SATA features is provided by HD Tune Pro v5.00.

The WD Red supports interface power management (termed as HIPM or DIPM depending on whether the power management to alter the status of the SATA link is initiated by the device or the host), but not advanced power management (APM), while the Seagate NAS HDD supports APM, but not HIPM / DIPM. APM allows setting of the head parking interval. As we saw in the WD Red 3 TB review, APM support is available only through proprietary commands using the WDIDLE tool. By default, it is disabled, which is fine considering the target market for the drives. The Seagate drive, on the other hand, makes it possible for the NAS OS to set the head parking interval. HIPM / DIPM allows further fine-tuning of power consumption, and it is a pity that the Seagate NAS HDD doesn't support it. In terms of the supported features above, the WD Re and Seagate NAS HDD are the same. The WD Se differs from the WD Re / Seagate NAS HDD in the fact that device configuration overlay (DCO) is not supported. DCO allows for the hard drive to report modified drive parameters to the host. It is not a big concern for most applications.

We get a better idea of the supported features using FinalWire's AIDA64 system report. The table below summarizes the extra information generated by AIDA64 (that is not already provided by HD Tune Pro).

Supported Features
  WD Red Seagate NAS HDD WD Se WD Re
DMA Setup Auto-Activate Supported, Disabled Supported, Disabled Supported, Disabled Supported, Disabled
Extended Power Conditions Not Supported Not Supported Supported, Disabled Supported, Disabled
Free-Fall Control Not Supported Not Supported Not Supported Not Supported
General Purpose Logging Supported Supported Supported Supported
In-Order Data Delivery Not Supported Not Supported Not Supported Not Supported
NCQ Priority Information Supported Not Supported Supported Supported
Phy Event Counters Supported Supported Supported Supported
Release Interrupt Not Supported Not Supported Not Supported Not Supported
Sense Data Reporting Not Supported Not Supported Not Supported Not Supported
Software Settings Preservation Supported, Enabled Supported, Enabled Supported, Enabled Supported, Enabled
Streaming Supported Supported Not Supported Not Supported
Tagged Command Queuing Not Supported Not Supported Not Supported Not Supported

Interesting aspects are highlighted in the above table. The extended power conditions (EPC) supported in the enterprise drives (WD Se / WD Re) allow for more power states than the usual parked head / spun down disks. These may include states where the electronics is switched off, the heads are unloaded, the disks are spinning at a reduced rpm and where the motor is completely stopped (or any valid combination thereof). This provies for more fine-tuned tradeoffs between performance (in terms of latency) and power consumption. NCQ priority information adds priority to data in complex workload environments. While WD seems to have it enabled on all its NAS drives, Seagate seems to believe it is unnecessary in the Seagate NAS HDD's target market. A surprising finding in the above run was the fact that the two enterprise drives from WD don't support the NCQ streaming feature which enables isochronous data transfers for multimedia streams while also improving performance of lower priority transfers. This feature could be very useful for media server and video editing use-cases. Fortunately, both the WD Red and Seagate NAS HDD support this feature.

Introduction Performance - Raw Drives
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  • joelypolly - Wednesday, September 04, 2013 - link

    With a difference of 1 to 2 watts for the Seagate I fail to see how that would be too much of a cause for concern for cooling systems? Even with a 5 disk array it should still be under 10 watts difference in the most demanding circumstances and about 5 watts on average. Reply
  • owan - Wednesday, September 04, 2013 - link

    I was thinking about that. 1W difference has got to be negligible for any desktop based system. Even 3-4W differences, while large on the relative scale, are small in the absolute sense. I don't see how you could make the statement "if you want more performance, Seagate, if you need cool and quiet, WD" Is there no other reason to pick one drive over the other besides a 1W performance consumption difference? Reply
  • glugglug - Wednesday, September 04, 2013 - link

    It is hard to see the relative differences quickly switching between the performance graphs for the different drives because some of them are on different scales for each drive. Is there any way the graph scales can be made uniform? Reply
  • ganeshts - Wednesday, September 04, 2013 - link

    Can you let me know the specific graphs you are seeing the problem in? The numbers are also reported by HD Tune Pro on the side.. Reply
  • glugglug - Wednesday, September 04, 2013 - link

    The random read and random write graphs.

    I can see the scale on the side, but for example the random read graph has the max Y scale value at 50ms for the WD SE drive, 100ms for the Red drive and WD RE and 200 ms for the Seagate. At first glance, it looks like the Seagate is owning because of the scale -- it requires extra thought to figure out what the graph would look like on the same scale for comparison.
    Reply
  • ganeshts - Wednesday, September 04, 2013 - link

    Got it. From what I remember, HD Tune Pro doesn't give user control over graph scales. But, I will see what can be done for future articles. Reply
  • ZRohlfs - Wednesday, September 04, 2013 - link

    If you look closely at those graphs you can see some outliers that are very high on the graph. They are away from the statistical clump but they cause the graph to have the scales that they do. Reply
  • carlwu - Wednesday, September 04, 2013 - link

    Can anyone comment on Seagate reliability as of late? Their 1TB drive fiasco left a bad taste my mouth. Reply
  • dawza - Wednesday, September 04, 2013 - link

    The Seagate NAS HDDs seem quite good in terms of reliability thus far. I have a 3 TB and 4 TB in my WHS (JBOD) and they've made it past the crucial 1 month mark without issues. But as mentioned in the review, these haven't been on the market very long.

    These are the first Seagates I've purchased in years due to past issues you alluded to.
    Reply
  • RealBeast - Thursday, September 05, 2013 - link

    Carlwu, I had that thought also but set up one NAS with 8 x 3TB Seagate 7200rpm (the ST3000DM001) in RAID 6 and have had no issues for the six months they have run 24/7. Fingers crossed. Reply

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