Recently I was offered the chance to try out the new WD Red drives that I wrote about recently. These are specifically designed for NAS use. As they are SATA-3 models, and much larger (I used the 2TB and 3TB models for these tests), they should be a good match for the capabilities of the latest enclosures.
|A WD Red drive posing|
The results were quite interesting, as I discovered that my ageing Hitachis were actually doing a pretty decent job. Although beaten in most tests by the WD drives, it was not by as big a margin as I'd expected. Of course, the Hitachi drives don't have the NAS-specific tweaks offered by the WD Reds, such as power optimisation, balance control technology and the NASWare firmware.
As usual, I used Passmark Performance Test 7.0, first running the standard DiskMark test on a mapped share, and then using the Advanced Disk Tests to run the four preset workloads. The breakdown of these workloads is below, and all tests were run for 60 seconds.
|File Server||Web Server||Workstation||Database|
|Block size||16384 bytes||16384 bytes||16384 bytes||2048 bytes|
|IO queue length||128||64||0||128|
|Access method||Standard Win32 API (uncached)||Standard Win32 API (uncached)||Standard Win32 API (uncached)||Standard Win32 API (uncached)|
|Synology DS-112+||Hitachi 250GB||WD Red 2TB||Difference|
|DiskMark - Sequential Read||92.5||93.9||1.5%|
|DiskMark - Sequential Write||54.5||69.5||27.5%|
|DiskMark - Random Read/Write||51.5||56.7||10.1%|
|Synology DS-712+||Hitachi 250GB||WD Red 2TB||Difference|
|DiskMark - Sequential Read||94.3||95.2||1.0%|
|DiskMark - Sequential Write||56.3||82.5||46.5%|
|DiskMark - Random Read/Write||72.6||70.2||-3.3%|
The overall improvement using the WD Red drives comes to about 10% for the DS-112+ and 14% for the DS-712, which is probably a testament to the 7,200rpm spin speed of the Hitachi disks (the WD Reds use IntelliPower, with each model having a factory-optimised - but undisclosed - spin speed).
Interestingly, in the DS-712+, the Hitachi drives even manage to beat the WD Reds in a couple of workloads, which is again no doubt a function of their high spin speed giving fast read performance. In the tests with a significant write component, the Hitachis are not quite so impressive.
The good news is that I don't appear to have done any of the NAS enclosures I've reviewed a disservice by using the Hitachis, although my objective when reviewing enclosures is to get comparable results rather than absolute figures - after all, it's impossible to know what drives any particular buyer will stick in them.
One thing I did notice was how cool the WD Red disks were running. I have them in a four-bay enclosure I'm reviewing at the moment (I can't say which one as it's under NDA) and they are happily operating at between 28-30°C. The Hitachis generally operate around 35°C, depending on the enclosure's ventilation.
But the tests do show that choosing the right hard disks for the job in a NAS enclosure can have noticeable effects on performance, and this could be more noticeable in higher-powered enclosures with faster CPUs and more memory. Given that the Red drives are not much more expensive than ordinary drives (around a 10% premium, but shop around), and come with a three-year warranty and a special 24/7 support hotline, they are definitely worth considering when you next need some hard disks.
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