by Rob Williams on November 13, 2013 in Hard Drives
With the recent release of WD’s long-awaited 4TB ‘Red’ model, folks looking to fill their networked-storage box up with the largest density drives now find themselves with two options to ponder. Join us as we establish which drive comes out the victor – WD’s Red or Seagate’s NAS HDD – after their head-to-head battle.
At Techgage, we strive to make sure our results are as accurate and real-world applicable as possible. We list most of the steps and processes involved in setting up and conducting our benchmarking process below, but in the interests of brevity we can’t mention every last detail. If there is any pertinent information that we’ve inadvertently omitted or you have any thoughts, suggestions, or critiques, then please feel free to email us or post directly in our forums. This site exists for readers like you and we value your input.
The table below lists the hardware used in our current hard drive-testing machine, which remains unchanged throughout all of our testing. Each drive used for the sake of comparison is also listed here.
||Techgage Hard Drive Test System
||Intel Core i7-4960X Extreme Edition – Six-Core @ 4.50GHz
||ASUS P9X79-E WS
||Kingston HyperX Genesis 2GB DDR3-1333
||GeForce GTX 780 3GB (Reference)
Kingston HyperX 240GB SATA 6Gbit/s SSD
Seagate Constellation ES.3 4TB (ST4000NM0033, 128MB, 7,200)
Seagate NAS HDD 4TB (ST4000VN000, 64MB Cache, ~5.9K RPM)
Seagate Desktop HDD.15 4TB (ST4000DM000, 64MB, 7,200)
WD Re 4TB (WD4000FYYZ, 64MB Cache, 7,200 RPM)
WD Se 4TB (WD4000F9YZ, 64MB Cache, 7,200 RPM)
WD VelociRaptor 1TB (WD1000DHTZ, 64MB Cache, 10K RPM)
WD Black 4TB (WD4001FAEX, 64MB, 7,200)
WD Black 2TB (WD2002FAEX, 64MB Cache, 7,200 RPM)
WD Green 2TB (WD20EARS, 64MB Cache, ~5.3K RPM)
WD Red 4TB (WD40EFRX, 64MB Cache, ~5.3K RPM)
WD Red 2TB (WD20EFRX, 64MB Cache, ~5.3K RPM)
||Corsair AX1200 1200W
||Thermaltake WATER3.0 EXTREME Liquid CPU Cooler
||Windows 7 Ultimate SP1 64-bit
Please note: Unlike most of the drives we’ve tested up to this point, we tested both the WD Red 4TB and Seagate NAS HDD 4TB with just 2GB of RAM installed in the test PC. We did this because we were inspired by our NAS testing, which requires the same change to be made. When dropping down to 2GB of RAM, we can see the true performance of a drive, and not the RAM-accelerated version of it. After seeing the results, we regret not having tested that way all along, so we’ll be retesting key drives when time allows to get more accurate results for them.
Our Windows 7 Desktop for HDD Testing (Photo Credit)
When preparing our HDD testbed for benchmarking, we follow these guidelines:
- Our CPU is frequency-locked to avoid potential performance variances.
- No power-saving options are enabled in the motherboard’s EFI.
- AHCI is enabled in the motherboard’s EFI for best performance.
- Only the Intel 6Gbit/s port controller is used for test drives.
- Only cold boots are utilized; for the purposes of our testing a boot is defined as the moment the power button is depressed to the moment the last systray icon and program has fully loaded after reaching the Windows 7 desktop. Auto-login is enabled.
Windows 7 Optimizations
- User Account Control (UAC) is disabled.
- The OS is kept clean; no scrap files are left in between runs.
- The Windows Search daemon is disabled.
- Windows Update and OS power-saving settings are disabled.
Outside of the Windows 7 boot time test, reviewed hard drives are installed as the target; the OS and all of the applications are stored on the SSD. This is done to remove the overhead off of the tested drive, and also to reflect the fact that most people nowadays are not installing their OSes on mechanical storage.
While HD Tune and AIDA64 are able to be used on a drive without a partition, the remainder of our tests require one. As mentioned above, we feel that the focus of hard drives is moving towards pure storage rather than housing an OS, so we’ve adopted the use of 64KB cluster sizes. It’s the maximum NTFS can support, and it’s much more efficient than 4KB for those needs.
For the sake of thoroughly testing the drives we review, our test suite consists of a blend of both real-world and synthetic benchmarks. Although we value real-world tests higher than synthetic, we appreciate the latter because A) they can give us the “best possible” performance numbers from a drive and B) can be run by our readers, more often than not.
Our synthetic tests include Futuremark’s PCMark 7, HD Tune Pro 5.0 and AIDA64 2.70. Our real-world testing includes file and folder transfers, and game level-loading.
In the past, we used Iometer for the sake of truly stressing a drive in high-load scenarios, but have dropped it in favor of using HD Tune’s built-in Random Access benchmark. Our goal with Iometer was to deliver an IOPS result, but because the program doesn’t support unpartitioned GPT drives, it’s useless for our needs. Fortunately, HD Tune can give us those IOPS results we’re after.