Western Digital broke new ground by releasing the first NAS specific HDD three years ago. Until then, we had to rely on NAS manufacturers to test HDDs and issue compatibility reports, often filled with out-of-date products or mainly expensive enterprise drives. Western Digital turned the tables and produced an HDD made specifically for NAS appliances and forced NAS manufacturers to build products that work with WD's product. The result has been very good for consumers, and now every HDD builder has a NAS specific product.
It's difficult for me to call the new WD Red Pro an innovative product since it's a replacement for the Se product line. By pulling Se into the Red product family, customers have a clear understanding of what the drive is used for; Red is for NAS and Se is for...well, most of us wouldn't know without researching the product. It leads me to wonder if WD's Xe (datacenter/enterprise) may pick up a color code before too long as well. Red Pro is a nice addition to the NAS specific HDD products on the market. Even though Western Digital's marketing material states for use in 8 to 16 bay arrays, WD knows there will be some crossover into the smaller NAS products from people looking for higher performance.
Some may wonder why WD would release a new 7,200 RPM HDD for the NAS market when HGST, a WD Company, just released the HGST NAS HDD, also with 7,200 platters. As part of the agreement to be able to acquire HGST, WD had to agree to let HGST stand alone as a separate entity for a period of time. The two companies can't even collaborate on products or strategy. At some point, this will change, but for now, WD and HGST are competitors. HGST released a NAS specific drive with 7,200 RPM platters, so WD needed to answer. The Red Pro was born.
The larger capacity sizes in the Red products are a nice addition, but they are an evolution more than a revolution. It's nice to have a 6TB option that isn't enterprise specific and doesn't cost more than some decent notebooks per drive.
We're still not sure why the 6TB model we tested today ran wild with latency. I hope WD tames this with a firmware update at some point. The bad thing about latency is it multiplies when you add drives to RAID arrays. One drive has to wait on the data to read back from the drive before it's in the sequence, and it just escalates as more drives are stacked together in an array. Maybe the increased latency is a way to keep users from using Red HDDs in larger arrays. With the first Red drives that hit the market, I was comfortable recommending them in arrays up to 8 or even 12 drives, but the new Red 6TB shouldn't go much more than 6 drives. That doesn't mean your data is in jeopardy...just your sanity while waiting on your data to transfer.
If you plan to run VMs off of a NAS storage array, then the Red Pro is the entry point, but in our tests, we observed that some other drives may produce a better experience due to high latency on the Red products.
If you just want to store a bunch of data in cold storage or plan to watch a movie every few days from a NAS with a DLNA device, the Red and Red Pro HDDs will do the job without issue.
PRICING: You can find the Western Digital Red and Red Pro for sale below. The prices listed are valid at the time of writing but can change at any time. Click the link to see the very latest pricing for the best deal.
United States: The Western Digital Red 6TB retails for $299.99 at Amazon.
United States: The Western Digital Red Pro 4TB retails for $259.99 at Amazon.
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