As Western Digital found with its WD Red hard disk, there's a healthy interest in high-capacity hard disks you can use in a NAS drive. The Seagate NAS is the unimaginatively named product from Seagate that fills a gap in its range, a 3.5in SATA disk available 2, 3 and 4 TB capacities, and designed expressly for home servers and desktop NAS solutions.
Furthering its application for always-on servers, the Seagate NAS HDD has low power requirements compared to hard disks made for PC use, specified at just 4.8W for typical operating consumption and 3.95W when idle. Its noise output is low too, just 23 dBA when idling and 25 dBA under load.
While you're unlikely to want a four-bay NAS in the lounge, for instance, you may be more willing to introduce a single- or two-bay drive without too much noise pollution.
Specified operating lifespan is approaching the enterprise class, listed as 1 million hours mean time before failure (MTBF).
To assist in its use in RAID arrays in NAS drives it boasts Seagate's proprietary NASWorks technology. This is said to include customised error recovery, along with improved vibration tolerance. Few details of how this is all achieved are published, although ‘dual-plane balance' may suggest some attention to the spindle bearings. Up to five disks can be used in one box, says Seagate.
Seagate doesn't publish the spindle speed, but we'd guess it's in the 5400-5900 rpm range, rather than the 7200 rpm or more used by performance-first disks. See also: Group test: what's the best NAS device?
Seagate NAS HDD 4TB: Performance
We tested disk speeds in our standard lab PC using Ivy Bridge Intel Core i5, connecting to a SATA 6 Gb/s interface. In the simple ATTO Disk Benchmark test the 4 TB Seagate NAS could reach maximum sequential read speeds of 154 MB/s. Write speeds were close but a little slower at 151 MB/s.
Those are good figures, if a little short of the performance of the WD Red, which we measured in its 3 TB version – this hit 174 and 163 MB/s in the same test.
Using CrystalDiskMark 3.0 we saw the WD Red pull ahead again, if only slightly, with maximum sequential figures of 163 and 159 MB/s read and write, against 157 and 155 MB/s for the Seagate NAS. (See also: Group test: what's the best SSD (solid-state drive)?)
For very small files, at the 4kB level the Seagate measured practically the same – just 0.58 and 1.50 for reads and writes, while the WD recorded 0.58 and 1.53 MB/s.
Interestingly, while the WD Red showed a speed discontinuity in the plotted HDTech test as it filled up, the Seagate was more consistent. And checking with HD Tune Pro we saw better minimum and maximum speed for the Seagate NAS.
In read performance it spanned 71.5 to 173.9 MB/s, while the WD Red dropped to 67.3 MB/s minimum on the slowest part of the platters, rising to 160.0 MB/s at maximum. See also: The top 10 best portable hard drives: what's the best portable hard drive of 2014.
The Seagate NAS is a very quiet and low consumption hard-disk drive that looks ideal for desktop NAS and RAID use. It currently costs about the same as its competitor from WD, and while some benchmark tests suggested it has a slightly slower top speed, in practical use this should not be a limit since the NAS drives it's used within will likely be limited by a gigabit ethernet interface anyway, at around 115 MB/s.