Introduction and Testbed Setup

Hard drives continue to remain the storage medium of choice for applications where capacity and cost factors outweigh performance requirements. Vendors have also realized that enterprise hard drives are an overkill for some applications, but the recently launched NAS-targeted drives do not deliver the necessary performance for those. In order to cater to that market, Western Digital introduced the WD Red Pro lineup a few months back. Last week, Seagate launched their competitor, the Enterprise NAS HDD.

We have already had comprehensive coverage of a number of 4 TB NAS drives and a few 6 TB ones. In this review, we will look at what the Seagate Enterprise NAS HDD (ST6000VN0001) brings to the market and how it compares against the other 6 TB drives that have been evaluated before.

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 Seagate Enterprise NAS HDD against other drives targeting the NAS market. The list of drives that we will be looking at today is listed below.

  1. Seagate Enterprise NAS HDD 6 TB [ ST6000VN0001-1SF17Z ]
  2. Western Digital Red 6 TB [ WDC WD60EFRX-68MYMN0 ]
  3. Seagate Enterprise Capacity 3.5 HDD v4 6 TB [ ST6000NM0024-1HT17Z ]
  4. 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 targets 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 Seagate Enterprise Capacity v4 meant for higher-end enterprise use. The HGST Ultrastar He6 targets capacity-sensitive datacenter applications.

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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  • nathanddrews - Wednesday, December 10, 2014 - link

    What's the status of this drive's APM setting? Do the heads park frequently and make a lot of clicking noises? Can you enable/disable it using the driver or something like HDParm? Lately I've been less trusting of Seagate's HDDs because they don't allow user-controlled APM settings on many of their models. I have sufficient cooling in my rack, but half the drives I have are firmware locked with aggressive APM.
  • Samus - Wednesday, December 10, 2014 - link

    After reading the review, I'd probably go for the Hitachi HE6 if these drives were priced close together. The feature set and more advanced nature of the Hitachi make it more attractive. I get that whole "not tried and true" helium technology argument, but the warranty is the same.
  • cm2187 - Wednesday, December 10, 2014 - link

    I've read somewhere that the HGST Deskstars 6TB will be released soon. If they live by their predecessors, it's probably a more reliable substitute for the WD Red without the cost of the Seagate drives.
  • Samus - Wednesday, December 10, 2014 - link

    I agree. Hitachi drives are excellent. If price isn't a factor (they're all the same price) then it's a no brainer.
  • Laststop311 - Thursday, December 11, 2014 - link

    Oh yea, after seeing the prices $420 for the seagate nas is only $30 cheaper and you'll make the 30 dollars back in power savings over the life of the drive. And the enterprise seagate is $50 more! They also consistently fail to mention that the He6 has less turbulence and friction from the platters spinning in a less dense environment. Less turbulence = less vibration and less vibration = less acoustic output. Also because of the helium environment the motor that spins the drive is slightly less powerful than standard motors since it uses less energy to spin platters inside helium versus air. Less powerful motor also means less vibrations from the motor. It's the quietest 7200 rpm 6TB HDD without a doubt.
  • Laststop311 - Wednesday, December 10, 2014 - link

    Yeah like I've said before in 20+ years of using a PC I still do not have 1 dead hitachi drive in my possession. I've probably bought 8 or so hitachi drives in my life and they are flawless. I've had 5 Seagates break and 3 were from the same rma process like the drive that replaced the broken one broke then broke again thats how bad they are. Western Digital isn't that bad I've only had 1 of those ever break on me. Haven't had much experience with Toshiba tho.
  • Laststop311 - Wednesday, December 10, 2014 - link

    Yeah so forgot, I totally recommend the He6. I have a hard time believing the listed acoustics for the 2 drives. Seagate says their drive is 27db and the He6 is 29db. I rly highly doubt the seagate is quieter the Helium environment produces less friction and less turbulence because helium is less dense than air. Friction and turbulence causes vibration and is a huge source of HDD noise. The He6 should be the quietest 6TB 7200 rpm drive. Also tho the He6 lacks maximum transfer speed it makes up for it with the lowest latency by a good 2-3 milliseconds. So the He6 ends up feeling more snappy even tho its lower max transfer speed.
  • Laststop311 - Wednesday, December 10, 2014 - link

    Just some data to backup my claim backblaze is a cloud storage company that tracks it's hard drive failures.

    What you will see there is exactly my same experience. Hitachi has barely any failures, Seagate has a huge amount of failures way beyond every 1 else and western digital is a little worse than hitachi but better than seagate.
  • Laststop311 - Thursday, December 11, 2014 - link

    And another thing. You can almost guarantee Hitachi has at the very least an 8TB He8 to compete against Seagates new 8TB drive waiting in the wings going through its last QA testing. If Hitachi can blend the extra platter density from helium and the extra density per platter in shingled recording being used in Seagate then they could easily blow past 8TB and make 10TB and 12TB drives as well. The helium Hitachi drive is without a doubt the most advanced hard drive platform on the market.

    And for massive deployments like a cloud storage service would need, the energy savings from the He6 can end up saving a lot of kWh on your power bill. But even for a home user it's nice to shave off as many watts as possible from your system without affecting performance, thats why 80+ platinum sells even tho it's only microscopically better than 80+ gold.
  • ddriver - Wednesday, December 10, 2014 - link

    Too bad you cannot put in a review the one thing that truly matters - reliability...

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