The Bottom Line
Introduction & Drive Details
Seagate sees its new IronWolf 525 SSDs as the ideal fit for those who want the advantages Gen4 SSDs bring to the table over Gen3 but don't necessarily need an expensive hyper-class SSD. The IronWolf 525 series offers sequential throughput of up to 5 GHz, class-leading reliability, and high endurance. Seagate feels that its newest Gen4 SSD offers best-in-class TCO backing it with a 5-year limited warranty and industry-leading rescue data recovery services that are included as complimentary for three years.
The IronWolf 525 series is again a Phison/Seagate collaboration. The drive is most similar to Seagate's own FireCuda 520 series in that it features a Seagate enhanced Phison E16 Gen4 x4 controller in front of a Kioxia BiCS 4 flash array. So, what does Seagate enhanced mean? Take the firmware, for example. It's not your standard Phison E16 firmware. The IronWolf 525, like other Seagate/Phison collaborations, runs on firmware and embedded software exclusive to Seagate.
One such exclusive embedded software application is what Seagate calls IronWolf Health Management or IHM. IHM analyses certain critical drive health parameters over time and notifies the end-user of potential problems and remedial actions to reduce the chance of data loss. In short, Seagate's new IronWolf 525 Series offers enhanced performance, endurance, compatibility, and reliability measures make it a sound overall choice for PC and NAS applications. Now let's see what the numbers have to say.
Jon's Test System Specifications
- Motherboard: ASUS ROG Maximus XIII HERO - Buy from Amazon
- CPU: Intel Core i9-11900KF - Buy from Amazon
- Cooler: Alphacool Eissturm Hurricane Copper 45 - Buy from Amazon
- RAM: XPG DDR4 D50 Xtreme 5000MHz 16GB (8GB x 2) - Buy from Amazon
- Video Card: Zotac 2080Ti AMP Edition - Buy from Amazon
- Case: PrimoChill's Praxis Wetbench - Buy from Amazon
- Power Supply: Thermaltake Toughpower GF1 1000W 80+ Gold Buy from Amazon
- OS: Microsoft Windows 10 Pro 64-bit Buy from Amazon
Synthetic Benchmarks: CDM, Anvil, ATTO
CDM reveals stated factory sequential specs to be spot on at 5000/4400 read/write. 4K QD1 random performance looks quite nice as well, especially when programming data to the drive's pseudo-SLC cache.
Anvil's Storage Utilities
Gen4 speeds add up to a nice total read score that nearly matches that of its smaller cousin, the FireCuda 520 1TB. Its scoring here exceeds that of any Gen3 SSD we've included on our chart. Excellent. Additionally, we note the IronWolf can deliver high QD random read performance that even exceeds that of E18 SSDs with 96L Micron flash. Impressive.
Sequential speeds at QD4 128K show the 2TB IronWolf 525 can, in certain scenarios, deliver performance that exceeds that of a whole host of SSDs we consider Hyper-Class and even TweakTown Elite.
Real-World Testing: Transfers, Gaming, PCM10
The IronWolf 525 2TB digests our 100GB data transfer at 1,000 MB/s. This is better than anything Gen3 and flash-based we've tested, showing you a real-world advantage even mid-range Gen4 SSDs have over Gen3.
More of the same when serving data to the host. Gen4 has its advantages. Here we see the IronWolf essentially delivering the same performance as its close cousin, the FireCuda 520 1TB.
Game Level Loading
Gaming is a performance metric that matters to the majority of DIY consumers, especially to the enthusiast crowd that TweakTown caters to. E16 based SSDs have never been known for their gaming prowess, as demonstrated by this result. The E16 based FireCuda 520 does a bit better, but that's because E16 based SSDs are faster at 1TB than they are at 2TB.
PCM10 Storage Tests
PCMark 10 Storage Test is the most advanced and most accurate real-world consumer storage test ever made. There are four different tests you can choose from; we run two of them.
The Full System Drive Benchmark and the Quick System Drive Benchmark. The Full System Drive Benchmark writes 204 GB of data over the duration of the test. The Quick System Drive Benchmark writes 23 GB of data over the duration of the test. These tests directly correlate with mainstream user experience.
PCMark 10 Full System Drive Benchmark
The IronWolf 525 delivers as expected for what it is. Again, at 2TB, it cannot quite deliver the goods as well as its 1TB E16 powered brethren.
PCMark 10 Quick System Drive Benchmark
Now, this looks great. The 2TB IronWolf 525 excels at moderate consumer workloads. In fact, here is another example where E16 SSDs can outperform E18 based SSDs with 96L micron flash arrays. Really exceptional performance, nearly as good as Samsung's flagship 980 Pro running in full power mode. Performance where it matters. Performance that's better than Gen3 has to offer. Impressive.
Seagate's IronWolf 525 is what we would consider a superior mid-range offering. The drive offers throughput of up to 5,000 MB/s and, as we saw from our results, can deliver real-world performance that exceeds what any Gen3 SSD can do. Additionally, and as previously mentioned, the IronWolf is Seagate enhanced for increased reliability over similarly configured competitors. The drive's three-year free data recovery coverage is something we've only seen from Seagate enhanced SSDs.
We rank SSDs in terms of overall user experience (performance where it matters most) as expressed by PCMark 10 storage tests. We consider a user experience score of over 7K to verify an SSD as TweakTown Elite. The IronWolf 525 is a mid-range offering and had no chance of becoming TweakTown Elite. However, as we measure overall user experience, the IronWolf can deliver the goods better than a whole host of 7,000 MB/s capable SSDs. Performance that matters.
For those looking for a bit more than PCIe Gen3 can give, the IronWolf 525 deserves a close look. It has shown itself capable of running with Hyper-Class SSDs when running moderate consumer workloads. That's impressive enough to earn Seagate's newest Gen4 offering a TweakTown award and recommendation.
- Moderate Workloads
- Enhanced Reliability
- Heavy Workloads
High endurance and Gen4 speeds make the IronWolf 525 worth a close look.