Introduction and Testbed Setup

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 the 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. Earlier this month, Seagate also introduced their WD Red Pro competitor, the Enterprise NAS HDD. We reviewed the 6 TB version and it turned out to be a great performer, albeit a bit costly for regular consumers. HGST aims to fill that space with the 6 TB Deskstar NAS. It falls in the same market category as the WD Red. However, the HGST Deskstar NAS drives have a 7200 RPM rating and the 5 / 6 TB variants come with 128 MB of DRAM cache. This is expected to make them perform closer to the Seagate Enterprise Capacity v4 and Enterprise NAS HDD drives. In the remainder of the review, we will try to determine whether that is the case.

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 (HDN726060ALE610)
  2. Seagate Enterprise NAS HDD 6 TB [ ST6000VN0001-1SF17Z ]
  3. Western Digital Red 6 TB [ WDC WD60EFRX-68MYMN0 ]
  4. Seagate Enterprise Capacity 3.5 HDD v4 6 TB [ ST6000NM0024-1HT17Z ]
  5. HGST Ultrastar He6 6 TB [ HUS726060ALA640 ]

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 the HGST Deskstar NAS units are for 1- 8 bay NAS systems in the tower form factor. The Seagate Enterprise NAS HDD is meant for rackmount units up to 16 bays, but is not intended to be a replacement for drives such as the Enterprise Capacity v4. The Ultrastar He6 is targeted towards datacenters where its storage density and power efficiency lead to a lower overall TCO.

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
Comments Locked


View All Comments

  • ganeshts - Tuesday, December 23, 2014 - link

    There is no 6 TB WD Red Pro. In addition, this is meant for tower form-factor NAS units (that is why the name 'Deskstar'). The warranty and MTBF / URE ratings are closer to the WD Red than the WD Red Pro. For the rackmount units (which the WD Red Pro targets), HGST suggests the Ultrastar lineup.
  • Samus - Tuesday, December 23, 2014 - link

    initial large capacity drives are generally slow, especially in the case of a next-gen platter density increase, because the technology is not refined enough for higher spindle speeds. the sole exception are HGST's 8TB Helium drives, which are theoretically capable of 12TB capacities, but since its new technology, they want to play it conservatively and see how the 8TB reliability pans out.
  • hlmcompany - Wednesday, December 24, 2014 - link

    The WD Red Pro and the HGST Deskstar NAS have the same RPM, at 4TB the same cache size, also the same MTBF and the same Load/Unload cycles. Their data sheets describe similar operations: HGST - 1-5 bays, WD - 1-16 bays. The real difference is the warranty and URE. Yes, WD markets the Red Pro for rackmount use, but you'll see that WD doesn't use this drive in their own rackmount system or in their Arkeia rackmount systems - they use RE and SE drives for that purpose. Based on this spec data, I view it important to include the WD Red Pro in this comparison.$file/DS_NAS_spec.pdf
  • hlmcompany - Wednesday, December 24, 2014 - link

    Also, if the HGST Deskstar NAS is not designed for a rackmount system, why would you test it one? Simply put, because there is no difference.
  • ganeshts - Wednesday, December 24, 2014 - link

    'rackmount' target vs 'tower form factor' : This has got more to do with the firmware aspects related to vibration tolerance. Rackmount system drives are engineered for more tolerance during extended use. It is more a reliability aspect.

    We chose a rackmount to keep things consistent across multiple drives. Our 'extended' tests only consists of running 24x7 for about a week (and only with three drives in the rack unit) - vibration tolerance doesn't affect our testbed setup much.

    We are reviewing the 6 TB version here. If WD were to put out a 6 TB WD Red Pro, we would use that as a comparison point. As it stands, comparing a 4 TB drive and a 6 TB drive is like comparing apples and oranges.
  • Wwhat - Tuesday, December 23, 2014 - link

    So HGST is what was hitachi and is now owned by western digital, so it's a WD drive really. Got it.

    You might have introduced it like that, but let's purch that thought and continue.
  • ganeshts - Tuesday, December 23, 2014 - link

    Despite WD's purchase of HGST, the manufacturing facilities and product lines are still separate because China is yet to sanction the purchase fully:

    This is the reason why they have different products targeting the same market segment.. one from WD and one from HGST (for example, WD Red and HGST Deskstar NAS). So, this is NOT REALLY A WD drive, as you claim.

    We have been covering HGST for quite some time (the WD acquisition was made in early 2012) : : The way the products have been introduced in each of the reviews has not changed since then, as you can see for yourself.
  • jardows2 - Tuesday, December 23, 2014 - link

    You, sir, are a troll. If you are so cynical about Purch acquiring AnandTech, go somewhere else. Anyone who has been following hard drives for the last two years knows HGST is owned by WD, but that they are separate entities. There is no need for anyone to point out the obvious.
  • chrnochime - Tuesday, December 23, 2014 - link

    And we all know how brilliant TH is these days....
    Go read this and be enlightened by how great Purch is:

    start from post #34, and read down. See how they put OCN as "renowned brands" even when they don't own OCN.
  • Doh! - Wednesday, December 24, 2014 - link

    How does "renowned brands" translate into "ownership"? They could be simply doing advertising work on OCN. When I checked out that Purch webpage you mentioned, all I saw was a network of websites for their advertising "partners" listed as renowned brands. Not a single indication of ownership is existent.

Log in

Don't have an account? Sign up now