Introduction and Testbed Setup

Western Digital (WD) introduced hard drives specifically targeted towards NAS systems under the Red branding last month. Jason had some initial coverage at launch time. WD claimed to have put in a number of firmware features and some additional hardware aspects in the Red lineup to make it suitable for NAS usage.

WD touted the following main points

  • Less aggressive head parking (no IntelliPark feature)
  • Configurable Time Limited Error Recovery (TLER), with a default of 7 seconds
  • IntelliPower disk rotation speeds (comparable to Green drives)
  • Vibration reduction mechanism in hardware
  • 3-Yr. warranty and 24x7 phone support

In the next section, we will analyze each of these claims in detail. First, let us take a look at the testbeds. We used the WD Red drives standalone in a PC and also as part of a few SMB / SOHO NAS systems. Our standalone PC testbed was also used for some of the NAS testing. Our Summer 2012 NAS testbed's specifications are provided below:

NAS Benchmarking Testbed Setup [ Summer 2012 ]
Processor Intel i7-3770K CPU - 4C/8T - 3.50GHz, 8MB Cache
Motherboard Asus P8H77-M Pro
OS Hard Drive Seagate Barracuda XT 2 TB
Secondary Drives Western Digital Red WD30EFRX 3 TB
Corsair Performance 3 Series™ P3-128 128 GB SSD (Offline in Host OS)
Memory G.SKILL ECO Series 4GB (2 x 2GB) SDRAM DDR3 1333 (PC3 10666) F3-10666CL7D-4GBECO CAS 7-7-7-21
PCI-E Slot Quad-Port GbE Intel ESA-I340
Case Antec VERIS Fusion Remote Max
Power Supply Antec TruePower New TP-550 550W
Host Operating System Windows Server 2008 R2 Enterprise

A Windows 7 virtual machine was set up using Hyper-V with the following configuration

Windows 7 Ultimate x64 : Guest OS
Processor Single Physical Core of Intel i7-3770K
OS Hard Drive VHD File on Seagate Barracuda XT 2 TB
Secondary Hard Drive Corsair Performance 3 Series™ P3-128 GB SSD
Memory 1 GB

The following NAS units were used for testing the WD Red drives in RAID-1 configuration.

  • LaCie 2big NAS
  • Netgear NV+ v2
  • Synology DS211+

The drives were benchmarked against 2 x 3TB Seagate Barracuda 7200rpm drives that were bundled with the LaCie 2big NAS.

An important aspect of NAS systems that we haven't covered in detail is the effect of prolonged usage and how differently the NAS performs when it is close to full capacity. Towards this, we also used our build-in-progress NAS testbed to stress the WD Red drives in the Synology D211+. The details of this separate testbed and methodology are described in a later section.


WD Red Lineup: Differentiating Features


View All Comments

  • No Saint - Wednesday, November 21, 2012 - link

    How reliable is RED for use as an OS drive (Main drive). I got to ask cause, where I live to most shops warranty means squat as they still charge me for RMA of drives over 1 year.

    There is only 1 shop where which doesn't charge me for RMA for hardwares over 1year period. I would prefer to get Black Caviar 2tb but its out of stock and their supplier told them they are unable to get new ones since for now, I am seriously think of getting RED 3tb as its about same price range.

    I do download a lot, plenty of drives in past died quickly under a year. That includes Seagates, Maxtors, even Western Digital Blue and Western Digital Externals. Only drive that is reliable so far is Caviar black surviving over 2.5 years. Could I go for RED as an OS as I am going to install Windows 8 or should I bite the bullet and spent more cash on RE drives which IMO are rather expensive right now for 2tb.
  • cyriouslydylan - Thursday, November 29, 2012 - link

    As of this posting, getting a 2TB Red drive is only about $10 more on amazon than getting a 1TB black drive. Would there be any problem using a Red drive in a standard desktop environment? Reply
  • nico82 - Wednesday, January 23, 2013 - link

    would you recommend this HDD also for "normal use" (second HDD in a desktop system)? I'm looking for a internal HDD to save multimedia files (OS running on SSD), and I was oriented on a WD Green, then I saw this one.

    If you recommend it, does it need to be configured by internal/external tool? How?

    Thank you very much

  • CambridgeAudio - Thursday, February 28, 2013 - link

    What does it mean "time to complete transaction" in the article. Time for the transaction of 4kB?

    How can you tell by just looking at the numbers on top of these disks if they run 1 tb or 750 gb platters?

    Btw WD tech support is useless. I ask a well defined question. All you get back is their marketing talk. What horrible tech-support is that?
  • Shiitaki - Wednesday, April 10, 2013 - link

    What I am most interested in isn't raw performance, anyone interested in raw performance would build their own nas using real computer parts, not the toy atom cpus found in Nology/etc. The question is will the drive be reliable 3 years from now? Does the hard drive vibrate? I'm not talking about a fussy nit picky thing, I'm talking about will it shake my entire tower and desk like the last pair of Wester Digital Black drives I had did? I'm using WD blues atm and I can reach over and feel them vibrating the side panel of a 30lb steel computer case, despite being mounted using vibration isolators. When drives used to cost 200 and up, seems they were much better made. It's great to buy a drive for 100 bucks, or is it? Maybe the 150 bucks that a Red costs is the price of a well made drive, or is it a 100 dollar drive with a fat profit margin? That's what would have been interesting to find out. Reply

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