HGST Deskstar NAS 4TB Review (Page 2 of 11)

Page 2 - A Closer Look, Installation, Test System

As always, with our storage reviews, before we move on to the benchmark results, let's briefly discuss the physical attributes of this hard disk drive first. The Deskstar NAS 4TB is your quintessential 3.5" hard drive from HGST; all you have at the top is bare metal with a dull silver finish, and a large label placed across the middle. If you have seen a Deskstar before, this one is no different. It weighs in at 690g each, or about 1.5lbs. On the label, you will also spot information like its 4TB drive capacity, SATA 6Gb/s interface, 7,200RPM rotational speed, power rating, manufacturing date in January 2014 for our particular unit, and that it is a product of Thailand. Unlike Western Digital drives, you really have to look closely for the information you need. Actually, nowhere on the HGST Deskstar NAS 4TB does it say it is a Deskstar NAS; the closest thing you will get is a part number.

Turning the HGST Deskstar NAS 4TB around, and you will see a blue printed circuit board that interfaces between its SATA 6Gb/s interface and the physical mechanical components. As far as electronic components are concerned, the HGST Deskstar NAS features a LSI TNNHV77220 drive controller. A Samsung K4T51163QJ 64MB DDR2 IC acts as the cache for the drive. To control the motor, a Hitachi branded chip labeled 0A73080 gets the job done. Mechanically, HGST advertises the Deskstar NAS' rotational speed as 7,200RPM. The company makes no effort to hide this fact; in fact, it is advertised almost everywhere to show off its performance characteristics. Comparable drives from Western Digital and Seagate come in at 5,400RPM and 5,900RPM, respectively, so this is not surprising. The tradeoff, of course, is higher power consumption, which we will investigate further later on in this review. Meanwhile, the HGST Deskstar NAS features five 800GB platters inside, making it slightly lower density than the competition. How well will it fare? Well, this is a question yet to be answered in our next eight pages of thorough benchmarking.

But before we delve into the benchmarking, I would like to spend a little bit of time discussing the unique characteristics of the HGST Deskstar NAS 4TB NAS drive. What makes a NAS drive, a NAS drive? From a hardware perspective, usually, it will feature lower consumption. However, the HGST Deskstar NAS 4TB is really a modified version of their performance business desktop drives, and being 7,200RPM and all, it does not appear to be power consumption has ever been much of a consideration. That said, it features a vibration sensor, which is somewhat uncommon for a consumer drive at heart. Most network attached storage oriented models like the Western Digital Red and Seagate NAS HDD recommends no more than five drives per system, but HGST does not specify. The Deskstar NAS is rated as having 1,000,000 hours MTBF with a three year warranty.

The real deal, however, comes down to the features available on the HGST Deskstar NAS 4TB typically limited to enterprise class drives. Although this is not listed on the product website, we have confirmed via email that this drive supports advanced drive management using SMART Command Transport; an extension of the standard SMART protocol. Using SCT, the Deskstar NAS can accommodate streaming commands as well as error recovery commands from the host. For read and write error recoveries, the minimum error recovery control can be set to 6.5 seconds as configurable by the controller.

Why is this important? If a drive's error recovery control timeout is not configurable, it may be dropped out of a RAID array unexpectedly down the road. Desktop hard drives may enter deep recovery mode, and could take up to two minutes to deal with a bad sector. During this time, the hard drive will not respond. Because of this, RAID controllers may mark the drive as unreliable, because it has failed to respond within a set period of time.

In the past, if you need hard disks that are guaranteed to play well in a RAID environment, enterprise grade or RAID edition drives are available from each respective drive manufacturer. This is where the problem comes in: Such products are usually two to three times the price of comparable consumer drives with the same capacity! Can the huge price difference be justified just for the home or SOHO user to get some data redundancy working with their small network file server?

For most users, the answer is 'no'. TLER/CCTL/ERC and related RAID array configuration problems as aforementioned are more crucial with demanding business environments than a home or SOHO NAS setup. Linux software RAID that your network attached storage system implements is much more lenient with consumer desktop drives. Personally, I have run RAID 5 arrays in my QNAP systems since 2010 using regular disks from Western Digital with absolutely no problems at all. That said, products like the HGST Deskstar NAS 4TB we are reviewing today represents a shift in industry where hard drive manufacturers finally addresses the need for properly designed drives for network attached storage systems. They are specifically tested for compatibility, designed for reliability in this operating environment, and come with certain enterprise features enabled from the factory to ensure you will not experience related issues down the road. With a price comparable to desktop drives, the HGST Deskstar NAS 4TB series is simply a no-brainer if you are looking to fill up your file server.

Now, it is time for the exciting part: Benchmarking. We took in comparable 4TB models from Seagate and Western Digital, tested them one by one in our desktop, and dumped them into my QNAP TS-470 to see how they perform in a real NAS. Read to roll?

As you can see in our photo above, we have hard drives designed for network attached storage systems from all major manufacturers/brands. This includes Western Digital, Hitachi Global Storage Technologies (Which is owned by Western Digital), and Seagate. This is, in aggregate, 24TB of serious business. 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

Compared Hardware:
- HGST Deskstar NAS 4TB (Street price: $185 each at press time)
- Seagate NAS HDD ST4000VN000 4TB (Street price: $160 each at press time)
- Western Digital Red WD40EFRX 4TB (Street price: $180 each at press time)

Page Index
1. Introduction and Specifications
2. A Closer Look, Installation, Test System
3. Benchmark: AIDA64 Disk Benchmark
4. Benchmark: ATTO Disk Benchmark
5. Benchmark: Crystal Disk Mark 3.0
6. Benchmark: HD Tach
7. Benchmark: HD Tune Pro 4.60
8. Benchmark: PassMark PerformanceTest 8.0
9. Benchmark: PCMark 7
10. NAS Performance, Power Consumption
11. Conclusion