Which NAS HDD Should I Buy? (2014) | Reports
By: Jonathan Kwan
July 14, 2014
Would you rather be spoiled for choice, or have no choice at all? More often than not, if we have no option at all, then we would complain, because we have no option. If we have many options, we would also complain, because it is hard to make a decision. Here at APH Networks, we have recently covered three 4TB hard drives from all three major brands. This included the Deskstar NAS from HGST, NAS HDD ST4000VN000 from Seagate, and Red WD40EFRX 4TB from Western Digital. Ostensibly, they all serve the exact same purpose. Realistically, they all do it in a different way. To summarize what we have found in the trio of standalone reviews, here is a brief overview of our contestants in perspective, as well as the results. If you would like further detail, be sure to click on the links to dig into the full review for each product!
The first contestant on our list, by alphabetical order, is the HGST Deskstar NAS 4TB. With a reputation for renowned performance and serious reliability, this 7,200 RPM drive is based off its desktop counterpart with some enterprise grade features. It has five 800GB platters inside, making it lower density than the other two drives we are testing today. It comes with a 3-year warranty, and retails for about $185 at press time.
The highlights: High RPM, but it is going to use more power.
The second contestant on our list, by alphabetical order, is the Seagate NAS HDD ST4000VN000 4TB. Another NAS optimized drive, it features reliability enhancements with what Seagate calls "Dual Plane Balance", which refers to the disk being physically balanced properly to reduce excessive vibration and noise in a multi-drive configuration. It also has ERC support. At 5,900 RPM, it spins a little faster than the Western Digital, and features the same quad 1TB high density platter configuration. It comes with a 3-year warranty, and retails for about $160 at press time.
The highlights: A competitively priced drive; important if you are going to buy several of them.
The third contestant on our list, by alphabetical order, is the Western Digital Red WD40EFRX 4TB. It is based off the Western Digital Green series drives, with changes made to the hardware and firmware to make it NAS optimized. This includes reliability enhancements with what Western Digital calls the "3D Active Balance Plus", which refers to the disk being physically balanced properly to reduce excessive vibration and noise in a multi-drive configuration, as well as TLER support, just like the ST4000VN000. This 5,400 RPM drive spins the slowest of the group, but it has four high density 1TB platters inside to work out the difference. It comes with a 3-year warranty, and retails for about $180 at press time.
The highlights: A well rounded balance of speed, affordability, and power consumption.
Our test configuration as follows:
CPU: Intel Core i5-2500K @ 4.50GHz
CPU Cooling: Thermaltake WATER2.0 Pro (Noctua NF-F12)
Motherboard: ASUS P8P67 WS Revolution
RAM: Kingston HyperX Beast KHX21C11T3K2/16X 4x8GB
Graphics: Gigabyte Radeon HD 7870 2GB OC
Chassis: Lian Li PC-B12
Power: PC Power & Cooling Silencer Mk III 1200W
Sound: Auzentech X-Fi Bravura
Operating System: Microsoft Windows 7 Professional x64 SP1
For our network attached storage tests, I have used the renowned QNAP TS-470 connected to our central home network with CAT5e wiring. The QNAP TS-470 is one of the company's latest SOHO/SMB systems, and is currently the fastest NAS we have tested here at APH Networks. The client computer is the same system used for benchmarking the hard drives as described above, which features the excellent Intel 82574L Gigabit Ethernet adapter.
Best overall performer in AIDA64 Disk Benchmark: HGST Deskstar NAS 4TB
Best overall performer in ATTO Disk Benchmark: HGST Deskstar NAS 4TB
Best overall performer in Crystal Disk Mark: HGST Deskstar NAS 4TB
Best overall performer in HD Tach: Seagate NAS HDD ST4000VN000 4TB
Best overall performer in HD Tune: Seagate NAS HDD ST4000VN000 4TB
Best overall performer in PassMark PerformanceTest 8.0: Western Digital Red WD40EFRX 4TB
Best overall performer in PCMark 7: HGST Deskstar NAS 4TB
Best overall performer in NAS/File Benchmark: HGST Deskstar NAS 4TB
Best overall performer in power consumption: Western Digital Red WD40EFRX 4TB
Every hard drive we have tested has its merits. There is no straight up answer to which one you should buy, as everyone has different preferences and priorities. As such, I am going to present my concluding statements on each drive, in alphabetical order.
With a reputation for renowned performance and serious reliability, the HGST Deskstar NAS 4TB has it all in its genes. It packs in some surprising enterprise-grade features in both its hardware and firmware, and throws them all into the mix in its glorious demonstration of 7,200RPM speed in our benchmarks today. Sure, it may not have swept the board with the results, but it consistently scored at or near the top in almost every test. Of course, packing in five 800GB platters and spinning them at one hundred and twenty times per second comes at a cost, and that cost will appear on your power bill. With our QNAP TS-470 network attached storage system configured with the HGST Deskstar NAS 4TB, it consumed three extra watts per drive compared to the most efficient unit in our tests. If you have four drives installed, multiply it all together, run them 24/7, and sooner or later, you will realize these numbers will really add up. The bottom line: The HGST Deskstar NAS 4TB is a hard drive that stacks on some enterprise features in conjunction with a lot of focus on raw speed, but watch out for its power consumption.
Retailing for about $160 at press time, the popular Seagate NAS HDD ST4000VN000 4TB has one huge advantage under its belt: Price. Here at APH Networks, we are stacking the ST4000VN000 against the $180 Western Digital Red 4TB and $185 HGST Deskstar NAS 4TB. With a price difference of $20 to $25 per drive, this number will really add up if you are buying four to rock a RAID setup in your network attached storage system. I mean, $80 to $100 in savings is simply a figure you cannot ignore. The fact is, the Seagate NAS HDD 4TB did not sweep the charts with countless victories, nor was it the most power efficient. But where it stands out is its performance remains competitive for what most people would use it for in real life, and while it did not use the least power in our tests, it really did come close. The bottom line: Receiving solid reviews for reliability at various popular online retailers, if you are looking for a network attached storage hard drive that is reasonably power efficient, reasonably fast, and reasonably priced, the Seagate NAS HDD ST4000VN000 4TB will be the key to keeping your storage space high, and your credit card bill low.
The Western Digital Red WD40EFRX 4TB is neither the fastest nor the cheapest, but it strikes a balance between the two, and comes in as being the most power efficient. Sure, it did not perform the best in all our benchmarks. However, it took home all the right wins for what the drive is meant for, and that is where it mattered. In an environment where every watt from every single drive adds up, the choice is clear. The value of the Western Digital Red boils down to the fact that it is designed specifically for network attached storage system from its hardware to its firmware, and this is evident from our dissection and benchmarking results today. If I am building a file server, what I want is a balance of speed, capacity, reliability, and affordability. And if I am looking for an optimal balance for all four factors, the Western Digital Red WD40EFRX 4TB is the only one that lives up to them all. The bottom line: Designed specifically for network attached storage systems, the Western Digital Red WD40EFRX 4TB rocks the competition with the best balance of speed, capacity, reliability, and affordability.
HGST, Seagate, and Western Digital provided these products to APH Networks to facilitate this report.