Introduction and Specifications, Pricing and Availability
For the longest time I ran a set of four Seagate Barracuda 7200.12's in my NAS here in the lab. These drives served me very well up until last year, when they were replaced by the purpose built WD Red NASWare drives. Now though Seagate has entered the purpose built drive market with the NAS HDD.
When you are in the market for a shiny new HDD, it's of utmost importance to take a few things into consideration including the purpose of the drive, the capacity you're looking for, and the most important, what environment the drive will be subjected to. I say the environment as the most important because drives like the NAS HDD are purpose built to run 24/7 in hot environments like that of a 1 to 5 bay NAS appliance. Drives like the previously reviewed Desktop HDD .15 are made for just that, your desktop PC, where there is a bit more airflow.
Now you may be saying to yourself, "this NAS HDD is just the Desktop HDD .15 with fancy firmware", and to an extent that could be true. Both drives utilize the same four platter design, with areal density at 625GB/ sq. in and the same 1*10^14 BER, but Seagate has added a few more improvements to the NAS HDD as well. Technology like Dual Plane Balance and Seagate's patented NASWorks Error Recovery Control increase the drives durability and vibration tolerance for the 24/7 environment of small NAS appliances. It's not just some fancy marketing talk.
If this isn't enough for you, the Load/Unload cycles for the NAS HDD have been doubled to 600,000 over the 300,000 found in the Desktop HDD .15, and adding to this the Power-On Hours, which sit at 8760, four times more than the Desktop HDD. Power consumption figures have also taken a dive with typical operating power going from 7.5 watts to 4.8 watts in the NAS HDD. The same is true for the idle and standby power as well where the Desktop HDD consumed five watts at idle and 0.75 watts in standby, the NAS HDD uses just 3.95 at idle and 0.5 in standby.
Specifications, Pricing and Availability
Taking a look at the specifications for the NAS HDD by Seagate, we find the cache listed as 64MB. Closely following this is the Max Sustained Transfer Rate of 180MB/s with the Power On to Ready at <17 seconds. Power consumption, which I covered in the intro sits at 4.8 watts during operation with idle and standby at 3.95 watts and 0.5 watts respectively.
The Load/Unload cycles have been boosted to 600,000, as have the Power On hours that now sit at 8760. The MTBF of the Seagate NAS HDD is listed at one million hours.
Newegg at the time of writing has the NAS HDD in the 4TB capacity listed and in stock at $209.99. Seagate offers a three year warranty on the NAS HDD.
Seagate NAS HDD (ST4000VN000) 4000GB HDD
Our sample of the NAS HDD was delivered in bare drive form. At the top we find the capacity listed at 4000GB with firmware revision SC43.
The drive's power and data connections have been placed in the standard configuration, insuring wide compatibility.
The backside of the drive houses a green PCB. This PCB carried the same part number as the Desktop HDD .15 with the exception of the revision - the NAS HDD is using Rev. B.
Removing the PCB from the back of the drive, we get a closer look at the construction. A set of pins connect the drives platters and heads to the PCB.
Front and center we found the NAS HDD to use an LSI MCU. Just north of the MCU you will find the cache by Samsung, and to the right we have the VCU by Smooth.
Benchmarks - Test System Setup and ATTO Baseline Performance
Desktop Test System
ATTO Baseline Performance
Version and / or Patch Used: 2.34
Many disk manufacturers, to determine the read and write speeds that will be presented to customers, use ATTO.
Starting up our test system we first must take a look at marketing performance through ATTO. Here we find the NAS HDD to have balanced results, a byproduct of the NASWorks firmware. Peaking at 159MB/s read and 157MB/s write.
Benchmarks - Sequential Performance
HD Tune Pro
Version and / or Patch Used: 4.00
Developer Homepage: http://www.efdsoftware.com
Product Homepage: http://www.hdtune.com
HD Tune is a Hard Disk utility which has the following functions:
Benchmark: measures the performance
Info: shows detailed information
Health: checks the health status by using SMART
Error Scan: scans the surface for errors
HD Tune Pro gives us accurate read, write and access time results and for the last couple of years has gained popularity amongst reviewers. It is now considered a must have application for storage device testing.
The NAS HDD did quite well in HD Tune, with read results coming in at 169MB/s at its peak. Minimum and average followed closely at 136MB/s and 80MB/s, respectively.
Write performance was equal to what we found during read testing. Here we have a maximum of 168MB/s, with the average write speed at 132MB/s.
Benchmarks - AIDA64 Random Access Time
AIDA64 Random Access Time
Version and / or Patch Used: 1.60
Developer Homepage: http://www.aida64.com
Product Homepage: http://www.aida64.com
AIDA64 offers several different benchmarks for testing and optimizing your system or network. The Random Access test is one of very few if not only that will measure hard drives random access times in hundredths of milliseconds as oppose to tens of milliseconds.
Read access times for the NAS HDD were slightly higher than what we found in the Desktop counterpart. Here we have the NAS HDD peaking at 29ms with a low of 16ms.
Write access times for the NAS HDD were on par with the Desktop HDD, peaking at 57ms with a minimum of 12ms.
Benchmarks - Anvil Storage Utilities
Anvil Storage Utilities
Version and / or Patch Used: RC6
So what is Anvil Storage Utilities? First of all, it's a storage benchmark for SSDs and HDDs where you can check and monitor your performance. The Standard Storage Benchmark performs a series of tests, you can run a full test or just the read or the write test or you can run a single test, i.e. 4K DQ16.
Anvil Storage Utilities is not officially available yet but we've been playing with the beta for several months now. The author, Anvil on several international forums has been updating the software steadily and is adding new features every couple of months.
The software is used several different ways and to show different aspects for each drive. We've chosen to use this software to show the performance of a drive with two different data sets. The first is with compressible data and the second data set is incompressible data. Several users have requested this data in our SSD reviews.
0-Fill Compressible Data
Read IOPS through Queue Depth Scale
The NAS HDD wasn't very impressive in random 4K testing, but how often is this drive going to see this type of workload in a NAS environment?
Write IOPS through Queue Depth Scale
In 4K Random write the NAS HDD was very consistent, with just five IOPS separating the highest and lowest marks.
Benchmarks - PCMark 8 Hard Disk Tests
PCMark 8 - Hard Disk Tests
Version and / or Patch Used: 1.0.0
Developer Homepage: http://www.futuremark.com
Product Homepage: http://www.futuremark.com/benchmarks/pcmark8
PCMark 8 is the latest version in our popular series of PC benchmarking tools. Improving on previous releases, PCMark 8 includes battery life measurement tools and new tests using popular applications from Adobe and Microsoft. Whether you are looking for long battery life, or maximum power, PCMark 8 helps you find the devices that offer the perfect combination of efficiency and performance for your needs.
Launching our PCMark 8 testing we have the NAS HDD coming in with a total score of 2486, just behind the Desktop counterpart. Even with the single platter design of our WD Red 1TB, it just doesn't compete with the NAS HDD here.
In WoW the NAS HDD was capable of 114.1 seconds, very close to the Desktop HDD and a full 57 seconds quicker than the WD Red 1TB.
Battlefield 3 has the NAS HDD pulling ahead of the Desktop HDD .15, coming in at 305 seconds.
Utilizing Photoshop under light use, the NAS HDD comes in at 195.7 seconds.
A heavy use scenario brings all our drives closer together. In this test we found the NAS HDD slightly quicker than the Desktop HDD, with the Barracuda with its two platter design and 7200RPM spindle speed way out in front.
The Excel application trace puts the NAS HDD in front of the Desktop HDD .15 by a very thin margin.
The PowerPoint trace put the NAS HDD at 22.3 seconds.
The Word trace puts the Barracuda .14 at the top of the charts, followed very closely by the NAS HDD at 43.7 seconds.
Benchmarks - BootRacer and Resume from S4 Hibernation
BootRacer - System Boot Time
Version and / or Patch Used: 4.0
Developer Homepage: Greatis
Product Homepage: BootRacer
Download here: http://www.greatis.com/bootracer/download.htm
Time to desktop for the NAS HDD came in at 63.76 seconds, just behind the Desktop HDD and three seconds quicker than the single platter WD Red in our charts.
Resume from S4 Hibernation
Hibernation or S4 is part of the Advanced Configuration and Power Interface specification. In our custom "Resume from S4" testing, we allow the drive to enter hibernation for a period of ten minutes, from there we use our trusted stopwatch and time how long it takes for the drive to resume to a working desktop environment.
In our custom resume from S4 testing, the NAS HDD did quite well. Coming in at 7.75 seconds, it's well ahead of the WD Red that managed 16.6 seconds.
Back in July of last year, Western Digital launched the first purpose built NAS hard drive, and for the longest time I was waiting for Seagate to do the same. Today this has come to fruition with the NAS HDD, offered in two, three and four TB capacities. With the launch of a 4TB model, Seagate has one upped WD when it comes to storage capacity with 20TB now being capable in a 5-bay NAS, and since the WD Red tops out at 3TB currently, it makes you wonder how long before WD announces their Red at 4TB.
I must admit, after receiving the press release for the NAS HDD, I thought this was just a rebadged Desktop HDD, but it's not. Seagate has taken much of what they have learned in the enterprise sector and applied it to a drive, which is in reach of the average consumer. We now have technology like dual plane balance and NASWorks that supports highly customized error recovery controls, power management and higher vibration tolerance catered just for the 24/7 high heat environment of your typical NAS appliance.
Performance of the NAS HDD was on par with the Desktop variant throughout most of our testing, and well ahead of the 1TB single platter WD Red NAS drive. Most notably the performance was a balanced effort between read and write speeds, this coming as a byproduct of Seagate's NASWorks technology.
At the time of writing pricing of the Seagate NAS HDD in the 4TB capacity is set at $209.99 with high availability. You will also find the 3TB and 2TB capacities listed at $169.99 and $139.99, respectively.