Seagate NAS HDD ST4000VN000 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 NAS HDD ST4000VN000 is your quintessential 3.5" hard drive from Seagate; 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 owned a Seagate drive in the past before, this one is no different. It weighs in at 610g each, or about 1.35lbs. On the label, you will also spot information like its 4000GB drive capacity, model name, serial number, model number, part number, firmware revision, manufacturing date, SATA interface logo, and that it is a product of China. The Seagate NAS HDD comes with a three year limited warranty.

Turning the Seagate NAS HDD ST4000VN000 4TB around, and you will see a green printed circuit board that interfaces between its SATA 6Gb/s interface and the physical mechanical components. As far as electronic components are concerned, the Seagate NAS HDD features a LSI 841281VC drive controller. A Samsung K4T51163QJ 64MB DDR2 IC acts as the cache for the drive. To control the motor, a Seagate branded chip labeled 78087 V5 gets the job done. Mechanically, Seagate makes no reference to the drive's rotational speed in any of the material posted online. Of course, to satisfy your insatiable crave for specifications, I can tell you the NAS HDD spins at a rather interesting 5,900RPM. Comparable drives from Western Digital and Hitachi come in at 5,400RPM and 7,200RPM, respectively, so the Seagate comes in right in the middle. Of course, performance is related to a number of different factors, which we will investigate further later on in this review. Meanwhile, the Seagate NAS HDD ST4000VN000 4TB features four 1TB platters inside. Platters of this size are as dense as it gets at press time. 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 Seagate NAS HDD ST4000VN000 4TB NAS drive. What makes a NAS drive, a NAS drive? Seagate markets it under the term "NASWorks". From a hardware perspective, the NAS HDD offers low power consumption. The numbers are given by the manufacturer as 0.50W sleep/standby, 3.95W idle, and 4.80W load. Since file servers are designed to be turned on 24/7, reduced power consumption can make a significant difference on your power bill, especially if you have many drives. It is also rated as having 1,000,000 hours MTBF. Reliability enhancements are also made 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, such as your network attached storage system.

The real deal, however, comes down to the Seagate NAS HDD being ERC enabled. If a drive is not ERC enabled, it may be dropped out of a RAID array unexpectedly down the road. ERC stands for 'Error Recovery Control', which is Seagate's name for a feature that limits a hard drive's error recovery time to seven seconds (Western Digital calls it TLER; Hitachi calls it CCTL). According to Seagate, desktop hard drives may enter deep recovery mode, and could take twenty seconds or longer 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 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 NAS HDD ST4000VN000 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 comes TLER enabled from the factory to ensure you will not experience related issues down the road. With a price comparable to desktop drives, the Seagate NAS HDD 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 HGST 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:
- Seagate NAS HDD ST4000VN000 4TB (Street price: $160 each at press time)
- HGST Deskstar NAS 4TB (Street price: $185 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