People claim that hard disk drives are dead, but the facts done show that happening anytime soon. Between April, May, and June 2019, nearly 80 million units shipped, according to TrendFocus, Inc. Seagate led the charge with 40% market share and saw 10% growth from the previous quarter. Seagate, Western Digital and Toshiba combined to ship nearly 210 exabytes of hard disk drive capacity in just three months. The flash companies combined to produce just 114 exabytes of NAND in Q1 2019. The two coexist now and will continue to do so for a long time.
Hard disk drive placement has changed. Cloud storage continues to rise as end-users (consumers, prosumers, and businesses) flock to one-click low monthly cost storage. More advanced users with an eye on personal privacy continue to invest in in-house NAS products that hold the data closer to home and provide faster access. The three products we tested today cover all of these areas and that's likely why Seagate chose to focus on the 16TB launch here first rather than other product lines like Skyhawk and BarraCuda.
If you follow my other IronWolf reviews featuring the smaller capacities you already knew the IronWolf is slightly faster than the IronWolf Pro in smaller array deployments. The new information in this article is how the Exos X series fits in the mix to round out the NAS-optimized trio.
The Exos X delivers superior random performance for cloud and rack-scale deployments but can also benefit smaller install bases. Medium-sized and small businesses can access these drives through the channel and use them to increase performance in virtualized environments, and even different degrees of server workloads.
Current pricing makes the Exos X series more attractive in performance-focused deployments, but you do lose some consumer/prosumer features like two years of free data recovery found on the IronWolf Pro, and advanced disk health monitoring found on both IronWolf and IronWolf Pro series.
The base Seagate IronWolf is still the best value for home and small business users. The series now ships in two capacities not found on the Western Digital Red series, 14TB and 16TB and has the performance advantage thanks to superior platter rotational speeds.
The IronWolf Pro has the same capacity advantages over the Red Pro, and the dollars per gigabyte value is favorable, as well. The series works better in large disk deployments that exceed the recommended drive count of the base IronWolf. Seagate recently increased the maximum recommended number of drives to twenty-four from sixteen and that increases the series' usefulness for cold storage.
The real issue at this time with the IronWolf Pro is the current pricing pressure from Exos X in large capacities. The Exos X in the 16TB capacity is the lowest price we've seen on a flagship model from the enterprise side. The current pricing may just be a fluke from market waves made from new emerging capacities, but as of right now, I would purchase the Exos X over the IronWolf Pro.
The Bottom Line
The Seagate IronWolf 16TB takes up where the 14TB left off. This is the best high-capacity NAS HDD for home, SOHO, and small business users.