The WD Red is designed specifically to address the needs of the NAS market with advanced features such as TLER, IntelliPower, NASware 2.0, and 3D active Balance Plus. These features address NAS-specific problems that plague desktop drives pushed into service in NAS and RAID configurations. The Red series also features a 35% increase in MTBF to over a million hours that speaks volumes to the reliability of the drive in 24x7 usage models.
We compared the Red to the higher-class Se and Re drives in our tests. The Re and Se are designed for datacenter usage and very demanding workloads. They also feature a higher 7,2000 RPM speed than the Red, creating quite the challenge for the Red. The higher RPM of the Se and Re predictably resulted in a performance advantage in our workloads, but looks can be deceiving. In pure read and write 4k and 128k workloads, the faster drives pulled ahead. However, in mixed workloads, the Red closed the gap and was surprisingly close in performance.
The WD Red may have incrementally slower performance metrics than its brethren, but in a typical consumer NAS environment this is a non-issue due to bandwidth constraints. Many NAS users are constrained by a single gigabit connection with a practical throughput limit around 115 MB/s. The key for the Red is to deliver performance where it counts, and blistering throughput isn't a real necessity.
Latency is always pertinent, and the Red exhibited exceptional latency performance in spite of its lower speed, and in the many workloads was close to the enterprise HDDs. The exceptional latency performance of the Red will result in snappy use in day-to-day workloads.
For a NAS user, power consumption is a concern due to the 24x7 nature of NAS systems. Power consumption also equates to heat, which can lower component life. Heat can also result in extra noise due to the NAS fans running at a higher speed to keep the drives cool. While this would not be a concern in a datacenter, a NAS under the desk needs to be whisper quiet and preferably not dump a lot of heat into the room.
The Red addresses these issues well, with lower power consumption than the datacenter-class comparison HDDs. The power measurements for the Red were amazingly low, and when we measured the efficiency with in IOPS to Watts testing, the Red outperformed datacenter drives designed for the ultimate in power efficiency.
The Red is also a good fit for the price conscious, especially when considering the enhanced features. The three-year warranty matches the standard for consumer drives, and WD also provides free phone support for Red users. Finally, the Red is extensively pre-qualified with all major NAS manufacturers, so there is no doubt that this drive is on the compatibility list.
Overall, the WD Red wraps reliability, performance, efficiency, and power consumption in a reliable package with an acceptable price point that will make it a go-to drive for many NAS and RAID users.