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
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  • Guspaz - Tuesday, December 23, 2014 - link

    $300 for a 6TB drive doesn't seem very cost-effective when 8TB drives sell for $260, and 4TB drives sell for $140. Heck, even the 4TB HGST DeskStar NAS sells for only $165. This isn't really a fault with the HGST drive specifically (since other 6TB drives aren't any cheaper), but more a fault with the 6TB capacity point.

    Of course, the 8TB drive in question is using SMR, and so ought to be rather slow for writes, but when you've got a bunch of them in a server with some SSDs for caching, it shouldn't be so bad.
  • insz - Tuesday, December 23, 2014 - link

    Can you please provide a link to an 8TB drive for $260?
  • Dreamwalker - Tuesday, December 23, 2014 - link

    Here in EU you can get the Seagate Archive 8TB for ~226EUR (275USD with vat). It targets cloud/cold storage market but I think it should be great for a HTPC too...
  • patrioteagle07 - Tuesday, January 6, 2015 - link

    You do not want that drive... it is cheap because it is SMR. SMR is for COLD storage not NAS.
  • BeAi - Wednesday, January 7, 2015 - link

    Hi there, we are Premium Reseller of HGST, about these disks i could give some more inputs... First, the Seagate is a SMR Disk, only good for Backupszenarios, further they have only 3 years warranty.
    The HGST 8TB Disk is not a SMR Disk, HGST has got the 10 TB SMR Disk for Backupsolutions. Than the HGST Disk have got 5 Years warranty, for business solutions is that an argument. Last but not least, HGST has released on all SAS3 Disk the Media Caching Technologie, the disk are probably up to 3 times faster than other disk on the market. We have tested disks in our Lab, with a 1.2TB media caching 10k Disk, it will be faster than a 15k normal 2,5 inc disk. For more information, feel free to visit our online Shop: Kind Regards.
  • BeAi - Wednesday, January 7, 2015 - link

    Sorry i have forget that the HGST 8TB also have the Helium 8 Technologie, its also a He8 Plate, the Seagate havent got helium inside...
    Benefit of HGST Helium: up to 50% less energy cost, and less heat from the plate... If you wanna have an offer or more informations:
  • takeshi7 - Tuesday, December 23, 2014 - link

    I think he's citing this article. That $260/8TB is bulk pricing for buying 20 drives it looks like.
  • nandnandnand - Tuesday, December 23, 2014 - link

    The $260 8 TB drive isn't out yet. But it is a good thing
  • realwarder - Friday, December 26, 2014 - link

    Having a higher performance 6TB drive now is worth the extra money in the time saved over upgrading a 4TB drive later. It may be twice the price, but in $ it's not really much compared to reworking an entire setup later to add storage (unless you have a 8+ disk array with lots of room to grow)
  • hlmcompany - Tuesday, December 23, 2014 - link

    Regardless of the capacity, this HGST drive is in the same category as a WD Red Pro, NOT a WD Red.

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