Features and performance
Is it possible to have too much storage space? Not so long ago, we were carrying everything that mattered to us on 1.44MB floppy disks, and yet here we are reviewing Seagate’s latest internal hard drive that offers a tremendous 10TB of storage space.
While hard drive capacities of these sizes may at first seem excessive, there are two important things to consider. First of all, as hard drive capacities increased, so did file sizes, and that’s likely to continue. Secondly, Seagate’s IronWolf hard drives are designed for NAS (Network Attached Storage) devices that sit in the centre of your home or business network and store important files and irreplaceable backups from a number of computers.
If you have a number of computers storing files, along with full backups, on the drive, storage space can disappear fast. The Seagate IronWolf is therefore not the type of hard drive you’re likely to just slap into a single desktop computer.
If 10TB still feels like too much space, you can also get the IronWolf hard drives in 1TB, 2TB, 3TB, 4TB, 6TB and 8TB capacities as well. The 10TB version will set you back £400 ($448.99, around AU$678).
Features and Specifications
As the IronWolf drive has been specially made for NAS devices it comes with a number of features that you wouldn’t normally find in a standard internal hard drive. These features allow the IronWolf to perform reliably 24/7 with large amounts of data coming and going, all while keeping power consumption low.
It can be fitted in 1 to 8-bay NAS devices, and for our tests we put two IronWolf 10TB Hard Drives into a 2-bay QNAP TS-251A NAS drive. As you’d expect of a NAS hard drive, the IronWolf is optimised for RAID, and comes with technology Seagate calls ‘AgileArray’, featuring rotational vibration sensors which reduce vibration in multi-drive NAS devices. Error recovery control – essential if you’re trusting the IronWolf drive with irreplaceable documents – and advanced power management to keep running costs low are also headline features.
Seagate states it can handle a workload of 180TB a year, which is quite a decent amount for small to medium sized businesses. If you’re thinking of using this drive in your NAS at home, then it’s unlikely you’ll be moving that much data to and from the IronWolf.
Other specifications include SATA 6GB/s interface, a max sustained data transfer rate of 210MB/s for the 10TB and 8TB drives (195MB/s for 6TB, 180MB/s for the 4TB, 3TB, 2TB and 1TB drives) and a spindle speed of 7200 RPM for the 10TB, 8TB and 6TB drives (the other capacities make do with 5900RPM), and has 256MB of cache.
Part of the reason Seagate has been able to cram 10TB of storage into the IronWolf’s chassis is because it uses seven PMR (Perpendicular Magnetic Recording) discs, as well as using helium to allow for thinner platters. Helium is less dense than air, which reduces the drag force acting on the spinning discs.
So, the specs paint this as a pretty robust and reliable hard drive, but how does it perform? While we can’t put its 180TB a year promise to the test, we ran a number of industry recognised benchmarks to see how the drive copes under pressure.
We ran these benchmarks with the IronWolf 10TB hard drive connected directly to our test computer via SATA. In the CrystalDiskMark benchmark test we saw sequential read speeds of 250.2 MB/s and write speeds of 229.2 MB/s, which are very impressive, considering this is a 7200RPM hard drive, and handily beats the Seagate Enterprise Capacity 3.5 HDD V.4 6TB Hard Disk, which reached 213MB/s read and 212MB/s write speeds in the same test.
In our Atto disk benchmark tests, which check the speeds of the hard drive when transferring files of various sizes, the IronWolf 10TB again provided fast speeds that were pretty consistent, of around 249MB/s read and 220MB/s write.
Finally we ran PCMark benchmarks, which gave a score of 2969, which puts it ahead of many of its competitors, though behind the Seagate Enterprise Capacity 3.5 HDD V.4 6TB Hard Disk’s score of 3727.
While we didn’t have the equipment to test the sound levels in a controlled environment, the IronWolf remained pretty quiet. In fact, the only time we could hear much noise from it was when we installed two of them in the QNAP TS-251A NAS box, formatted them and installed the NAS software.
It’s quite understandable for there to be noise when performing intensive tasks such as this, and once installed the drives settled down and became all-but silent. If you have your NAS in your home office or front room (the QNAP TS-251A is a NAS that specialises in being a media server and video transcoder), then it’s very unlikely you’ll be bothered by the noise of the IronWolf when in use.
The IronWolf is an excellent hard drive that offers fast and dependable storage. The fact that its helium design means you can get huge amounts of capacity into a regular 3.5-inch hard drive is incredibly impressive, and means even if you use a number of these drives in a RAID array, you’ve still got plenty of storage space to play with.
Although you may be wary of entrusting so much data onto a single hard drive, the technology Seagate has packed into the drive to ensure it works under prolonged pressure for years to come, along with a 3-year warranty, should put your mind at rest.
We keep going on about the storage as 10TB in a single hard drive is incredibly impressive, so if you’re looking for a hard drive to store all of your important data, this is the one to go for. If you think 10TB is too much, it also comes in other capacities. The AgileArray and rotational vibration sensors makes this a great hard drive for NAS devices with multiple hard drives.
The price for the 10TB hard drive is high, so if you’re looking to use a number of these drives in RAID then you’re going to be spending quite a bit of money. It’s also a bit of a shame to see the lower capacity IronWolfs hobbled with slower data transfer rates and RPM speeds.
The IronWolf hard drive – especially in its 10TB guise – won’t be for everyone, and that’s exactly why it’s such a good buy. By focusing on making a hard drive that’s ideal for large – and busy – NAS devices, Seagate has produced a drive that should be on your shopping list if you’re building a backup solution for your home or office.
It manages the feat of combining reliability, speed and capacity, so if you have the budget then the IronWolf is definitely worth investing in. Of course, the flip side of this is that if you’re not interested in the NAS-specific features and just want a standard high capacity hard drive, then you should maybe think twice about buying the IronWolf, as you’ll be paying for features you don’t need.