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Seagate Exos X20 & IronWolf Pro 20TB HDD Review

Seagate is first to the market with 20TB HDDs. Helium-filled and fast, both are right at home for NAS or Datacenter apps or Chia.

@JonCoulterSSD
Published Tue, Dec 14 2021 9:35 AM CST
Rating: 100%Manufacturer: Seagate (ST20000NE000)

Introduction & Drive Details

If, as the saying goes, capacity is king, then Seagate's newest offerings wear the crown at a whopping 20TB. Seagate's newest IronWolf Pro is 20TB and aimed at NAS applications, bulk storage, or even proof of space crypto mining duties. The Exos X20 is Seagate's Enterprise variant of what is essentially the same 20TB 7,200 RPM helium-filled CMS-based HDD.

As we see it, Conventional Magnetic Storage, or CMS, is the way to go for consistency, reliability, and performance as opposed to competing recording technologies like SMR or Shingled Magnetic Recording.

Helium is also essential to the creation of these high-capacity offerings. Helium has been one of the greatest breakthroughs for high-capacity HDDs. Seven times lighter than air, helium creates less drag and turbulence when HDD platters spin. A sealed helium environment is humidity-free, enables cooler temperatures, increased storage capacity, lower power draw, and higher reliability.

The Exos X20, as it is intended for enterprise applications, is ideal for high-capacity servers, enterprise NAS systems, and bulk storage. The Exos X20 combines advanced write caching technology with up to 285 MB/s data transfer rates for best-in-class performance. Additionally, Exos is protected by Seagate Secure. The Exos X20 20TB is warranted for 550 TBW per year for five years.

The IronWolf Pro, intended for professional consumer applications, is warranted for 300 TBW per year for five years. Reliability is greatly enhanced with IronWolf Health Management or IHM. IHM is an embedded software application, which provides a highly effective drive health management solution. IHM notifies users of possible prevention and intervention actions, thereby reducing the probability of catastrophic failure and associated data loss.

Included free for 3-years with the IronWolf Pro is Seagate's Rescue Data Recovery Services. The Rescue plan provides world‐class data recovery services with an industry‐leading 95% success rate. And finally, the IronWolf Pro 20TB has been tested by leading NAS system vendors for compatibility with their products.

Drive Details

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Physically, the drives are identical. We note differing firmware, and while we have no way to know, we expect the internals are identical, with firmware being the main differentiator.

Jon's AMD Test System Specifications

Buy at Amazon

Seagate Exos X18 18TB Enterprise HDD

TodayYesterday7 days ago30 days ago
$321.99$327.00$339.60
* Prices last scanned on 1/25/2022 at 2:14 pm CST - prices may not be accurate, click links above for the latest price. We may earn an affiliate commission.

Synthetic Benchmarks: CDM, Anvil, ATTO, Blackmagic, AJA

Note: Exos X20 results are shown first or on the left when grouped.

CrystalDiskMark

Seagate Exos X20 & IronWolf Pro 20TB HDD Review 07 | TweakTown.comSeagate Exos X20 & IronWolf Pro 20TB HDD Review 08 | TweakTown.com

Seagate specs both Exos X20 and the IronWolf Pro 20TB as capable of delivering a class-leading 285 MB/s throughput. CDM verifies this to be accurate. Upon closer examination, we find the IronWolf Pro to have slightly better random read performance, the Exos X20 3x better random write performance. This makes perfect sense considering each one's intended applications.

Anvil's Storage Utilities

Seagate Exos X20 & IronWolf Pro 20TB HDD Review 09 | TweakTown.com
Seagate Exos X20 & IronWolf Pro 20TB HDD Review 10 | TweakTown.com

While its hard-to-find major differences between the two drives, a pattern is beginning to emerge. IronWolf Pro reads random data better, and the Exos X20 writes data better, especially random data where Anvil's is showing it to be 6x faster due to its advanced caching technology for enterprise workloads.

ATTO

Seagate Exos X20 & IronWolf Pro 20TB HDD Review 11 | TweakTown.com
Seagate Exos X20 & IronWolf Pro 20TB HDD Review 12 | TweakTown.com

Sequential transfers at QD4 are not following the pattern we saw with CDM and Anvil's random performance. This time the Exos X20 delivers better sequential read and write performance. Both impress with class-leading throughput.

Blackmagic Disk Speed Test

Seagate Exos X20 & IronWolf Pro 20TB HDD Review 13 | TweakTown.com
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While RAID arrays are the order of the day when employing HDDs for video processing duties, both drives demonstrate they are capable of handling most 1080p formats competently.

AJA Disk Test

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We chose Canon RAW 1080p at a 16GB file size. We are showing both MB/s and FPS results. Again, both can handle 1080p formats pretty well.

Real-World Testing: TransfersPCM10

Note: Exos X20 results are shown first or on the left when grouped.

Transfer Rates

Seagate Exos X20 & IronWolf Pro 20TB HDD Review 19 | TweakTown.comSeagate Exos X20 & IronWolf Pro 20TB HDD Review 20 | TweakTown.com

Both drives deliver identical and astonishing transfer rates considering these are HDDs. This is actually better than some low-end SATA SSDs can deliver. Impressive.

Seagate Exos X20 & IronWolf Pro 20TB HDD Review 21 | TweakTown.comSeagate Exos X20 & IronWolf Pro 20TB HDD Review 22 | TweakTown.com

Again, identical transfer rates and again impressive for what they are. Class-leading performance.

PCMark 10 Data Drive Benchmark

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Random read performance has the biggest impact on the results of this testing, which is why the IronWolf Pro beats the Exos X20 by about 5%. This is exactly what our first benchmark, CDM, predicted would happen and by this exact amount.

Final Thoughts

20TB HDDs, wow, that's hard to fathom, yet here they are, and they are fast. We feel both drives are unquestionably best-in-class in every way - speed, density, endurance, reliability, all of it.

Seagate is leading the way to higher HDD capacities with advanced technologies like HAMR, so we were caught a little off guard because they've been able to get to 20TB with Conventional Magnetic Recording (CMR). Impressive.

Seagate Exos X20 & IronWolf Pro 20TB HDD Review 25 | TweakTown.comSeagate Exos X20 & IronWolf Pro 20TB HDD Review 26 | TweakTown.com

With speeds reaching 285 MB/s and currently the highest capacity ever offered by anyone have earned Seagate's newest our highest award and a 100% TweakTown recommendation.

Performance

100%

Quality

100%

Features

100%

Value

100%

Overall

100%

The Bottom Line

Perfection.

TweakTown award
100%

Seagate Exos X18 18TB Enterprise HDD

TodayYesterday7 days ago30 days ago
$321.99$327.00$339.60
* Prices last scanned on 1/25/2022 at 2:14 pm CST - prices may not be accurate, click links above for the latest price. We may earn an affiliate commission.

Jon joined the TweakTown team in 2013 and has since reviewed 100s of new storage products. Jon became a computer enthusiast when Windows XP launched. He was into water cooling and benching ATI video cards with modded drivers. Jon has been building computers for others for more than 10 years. Jon became a storage enthusiast the day he first booted an Intel X25-M G1 80GB SSD. Look for Jon to bring consumer SSD reviews into the spotlight.

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