Seagate NAS HDD 4TB

The Seagate NAS HDD 4TB is a more affordable alternative to the popular WD Red 4TB hard drive drive. The two models share much in common including NAS/RAID optimized firmware, a three year warranty, excellent acoustics and low power consumption.

Seagate NAS HDD 4TB

December 31, 2013 by Lawrence Lee

Product
Seagate NAS HDD 4TB ST4000VN000
3.5" Hard Drive
Manufacturer
Street Price
US$160

The global hard drive market has seen a high level of consolidation in recent
years. Hitachi (previously, IBM) and Samsung’s hard drive divisions were swallowed
up by Western Digital and Seagate, respectively, so chances are if you have
a hard disk in one of your machines, it probably bears the label of one of these
behemoths.

On the consumer front, WD’s most noteworthy recent addition to their line has
been the Red
line
, a version of the quiet, low power Caviar Green series optimized
for the growing NAS and SOHO server market. Seagate’s answer is the "NAS
HDD" family that offers many of the same advantages.


The NAS HDD 4TB.


Label. The date code indicates the drive rolled off the assembly line in September.

 

The Seagate drives have specialized firmware dubbed NASWorks (as opposed to
WD’s NASware) that offers improved error recovery and other tweaks and fine-tuning
to better suit NAS environments. Seagate’s solution, like WD’s, has undergone
similar compatibility testing with many popular NAS systems made by manufacturers
like D-Link, Drobo, QNAP, and Synology. And like the WD Red, a three year warranty
is currently being offered… though this isn’t stated in any of Seagate’s literature,
suggesting it may not be written in stone.


WD Red on the left, Seagate NAS HDD on the right.

Also not mentioned in the documentation is the drive’s rotational speed, which
according to various sources is 5,900 RPM, giving it a potential performance
advantage over the Red’s 5,400 RPM, though in the past we’ve never noticed much
of a difference. The 4TB variants from both lines have 1TB platters though the
Red is heavier by about 60 grams, possibly the result of a more substantial
casing.


Seagate NAS HDD 4TB ST4000VN000 Specifications
(from the product data sheet)
Capacity 4TB
Form Factor 3.5"
Interface Options SATA 6Gb/s
Cache 64 MB
Power-on or Standby to Ready (typical) < 17 seconds
Max. Sustained Data Transfer Rate OD 180 MB/s
Power Management Startup Current (12V): 2.0 A
Operating Average: 4.8 W
Idle Average: 3.95 W
Standby/Sleep Mode (typical): 0.5 W
Acoustics (typical) Idle: 2.3 bels
Operational: 2.5 bels
Nonrecoverable Read Errors per Bits Read, Max. 1 per 10E14
Load/Unload Cycles 600,000
Mean Time Between Failures 1M hours

According to the datasheet, the NAS HDD 4TB is a good performer, capable of
180 MB/s maximum sustained transfer rate, a claim of which we’re highly skeptical.
Power consumption and noise, always important factors in our analysis, are modest,
at least on paper. The rated load/unload cycles and MTBF are identical to the
WD
Red 4TB
, so the two companies’ reliability claims are equivalent.

TESTING

Our samples were tested according to our standard
hard drive testing methodology
. As of mid-2008, we have been conducting
most acoustics tests in our
own 10~11 dBA anechoic chamber
, which results in more accurate, lower SPL
readings than before, especially with sub-20 dBA@1m devices.

Two forms of hard drive noise are measured:

  1. Airborne acoustics
  2. Vibration-induced noise.

These two types of noise impact the subjective
perception of hard drive noise differently depending on how and where the drive
is mounted.

Both forms of noise are evaluated objectively and
subjectively. Airborne acoustics are measured in our anechoic chamber using a lab reference
microphone and computer audio measurement system
. Measurements are taken at a distance of one meter from the top
of the drive using an A-weighted filter. Vibration noise is rated on a scale
of 1-10 by comparing against our standard reference drives.

As of late-2011, we have been conducting performance testing. A combination of timed real-world tests is used to represent a workload of common activities for a boot drive including loading games, running disk-intensive applications, copying files, and installing programs. Synthetic tests are also run to better judge the performance across the entire span of the drive.

Summary of primary HDD testing tools:

Key Components in LGA1155 Heatsink Test Platform:

Real World Performance Test Tools:

Real World Benchmark Details:

  • Boot: Time elapsed between pressing the power button to the desktop and the Windows start sound playing (minus the time for an average SSD to get to the "loading Windows" screen, 12 seconds on our test system)
  • COD5: Combined load time for the "Breaking Point" and "Black Cats" levels.
  • Far Cry 2: Load time for one level.
  • ExactFile: Creating a MD5 check file of our entire test suite folder.
  • TrueCrypt: Creating a 10GB encrypted file container.
  • 3DMark Vantage: Install time, longest interval between prompts.
  • PowerDVD 10: Install time, longest interval between prompts.
  • Small File Copy: Copy time for a variety of small HTML, JPEG, MP3, ZIP, and EXE files.
  • Large File Copy: Copy time for 4 AVI files, 2 x 700MB and 2 x 1400MB
    in size.

A final caveat: As with most reviews, our comments
are relevant to the samples we tested. Your sample may not be identical. There
are always some sample variances, and manufacturers also make changes without
telling everyone.

Ambient conditions at time of testing were 10.5 dBA and 20~23°C.

Synthetic Performance

We start off with synthetic results from the popular HD Tune and CrystalDiskMark
utilities. They don’t tell the whole story of course, but it’s a quick gauge
of relative performance between drives, and easily reproducible by our readers
at home.

The NAS HDD did well in HD Tune’s transfer rate benchmark, which measures sequential speed across the entire disk, finishing just behind the Se 4TB, Western Digital’s 7,200 RPM enterprise class drive, and well ahead the Red 4TB, suggesting superior file transfer speeds. Access times weren’t great but that’s par for the course when it comes to 5,400/5,900 RPM models.

The random read/write results from CrystalDiskMark are more representative
of the day-to-day workload of a desktop OS rather than processing large chunks
of sequential data (file transfers). With large 512K blocks, the NAS HDD acquitted
itself nicely, just ahead of the Red but a tumble with the smaller 4K block
size made it essentially a wash.

Real World Performance

Our real world performance testing begins with a Windows 7 image, loaded with our test suite, being cloned to a 50GB partition
at the beginning of each drive. The suite is run start to finish three times with a defragmentation (except for SSDs and hybrid drives) and reboot
between runs.
Average times were collected for comparison.

Call of Duty 5 and Far Cry loaded fairly quickly but the NAS HDD’s boot time was poor. We noticed the drive did have a slightly longer than average spin-up time but it wasn’t enough to account for the greater than 10 second difference against most of the drives compared; this of course is less important for a NAS/server drive that’s operating 24-7.

The NAS HDD slowed to a crawl during our ExactFile test, bringing down its overall application performance significantly.

Like the Red 4TB, the NAS HDD 4TB excelled in file transfers. It took third place behind the speedy VelociRaptor 1TB and WD Se 4TB.

Fractions of a second typically determine the winner of our installation tests, so the NAS HDD’s poor result installing PowerDVD was notable. Overall, its performance was average.

To accurately represent the overall performance of the drives, we gave each model a proportional score in each real world benchmark series (loading, application, file copying, and installation), with each benchmark set equally weighted. A perfectly average drive would be awarded 25 points in each category for a total of 100 points.

Using this scoring system, the NAS HDD 4TB placed dead center amongst the crop of drives we compared. Despite its lower rotational speed, the WD Red 4TB was 6% faster.

Power Consumption

The NAS HDD 4TB idled at 4.8 W while 5.5 W was consumed during seek activity
which is about what you would expect for a low RPM, high capacity drive these
days. The WD Red has an 0.8 W advantage sitting idle while the NAS HDD used
0.7 W less when seeking. It’s preferable to have better energy efficiency when
nothing is going on.

Acoustics

The current crop of low RPM hard drives are exceedingly quiet and the NAS HDD 4TB is no exception. Sitting idle, it produced a soft, innocuous whooshing
which measured 15 dBA@1m. Seeks were difficult to detect at distance by ear but our equipment registered a 1~2 dB increase difference. The sound produced was not unpleasant, not particularly scratchy or thumpy.

While we did notice a peak at ~120 Hz, this appears to have been coincidental. There was also a spike at just under 100 Hz which corresponds to a 5,900 RPM rotational speed and this was backed up by HD Tune and our performance tests. If it’s a 7,200 RPM model, it’s a very slow and quiet one.

Comparison Chart: Environmental Characteristics

1TB+ DESKTOP HARD DRIVES
Drive
Mfg date
firmware version
Vibration
1-10
(10 = no vibration)
Activity State

Airborne Acoustics
(dBA@1m)

Measured
Power

WD Caviar Green 2TB WD20EARS
August 2010
firmware 01.00A01
9
Idle
12~13
2.8 W (2.4 W heads parked)
Seek
6.5 W
WD Red 1TB WD10EFRX-68JCSN0
June 2012
firmware 01.01A01
8
Idle
12~13
2.9 W
Seek
4.1 W
WD Caviar Green 1.5TB WD15EADS
November 2009
firmware 01.00A01
9
Idle
13
4.5 W (2.8 W heads parked)
Seek
13~14
5.8 W
Samsung EcoGreen F4 2TB HD204UI
August 2010
firmware 1AQ10001
7
Idle
13
4.0 W
Seek
15
5.6 W
WD Caviar Green 2TB WD20EVDS-63T3B0
February 2009
firmware 01.00A01
8~9
Idle
13~14
3.9 W
Seek
6.5 W
WD Red 3TB WD30EFRX-68AX9N0
June 2012
firmware 80.00A80
9
Idle
13~14
3.6 W
Seek
4.9 W
WD Caviar Green 2TB WD20EADS
February 2009
firmware 01.00A01
7
Idle
14
2.8 W (2.4 W heads parked)
Seek
13~14
6.5 W
Hitachi Deskstar
7K1000.C 1TB HDS721010CLA332

February 2010
firmware JP4OA39C
5
Idle
13
4.6 W
Seek (AAM)
15~16
6.4 W
Seek
17
9.6 W
WD Caviar Green 3TB WD30EZRS
September 2010
firmware 01.00A01
8
Idle
14~15
4.1 W (3.7 W heads parked)
Seek
7.5W
WD Red 4TB WD40EFRX-68WT0N0
August 2013
firmware 80.00A80
8~9
Idle
15
4.0 W (3.2 W heads parked)
Seek
15~16
6.2 W
Hitachi Deskstar 5K3000 2TB HDS5C3020ALA632
April 2011
firmware 580
7
Idle
14~15
4.1W
Seek
15
5.6 W
WD Caviar Blue 1TB WD10EALS-002BA0
August 2010
firmware 05.01D05
7
Idle
14
5.2 W
Seek (AAM)
16~17
6.6 W
Seek
20
8.2 W
Seagate Barracuda Green 2TB ST2000DL003
November 2010
firmware CC31
8
Idle
14~15
4.6 W
Seek
17~18
7.3 W
Seagate NAS HDD 4TB ST4000VN000-1H4168
September 2013
firmware SC43
7~9
Idle
15
4.8 W (4.1 W heads parked)
Seek
16~17
5.5 W
Seagate Barracuda 3TB ST3000DM001-9YN166
November 2011
firmware CC47
8
Idle
16
6.4 W
(5.6 W >30 secs)
(3.9 W >50 secs)
Seek
16~17
9.9 W
WD Se 4TB WD4000F9YZ-09N20L0
October 2013
firmware 01.01A01
7
Idle
16
8.1 W
Seek
18~19
9.7 W
Hitachi Deskstar 7K3000 2TB HDS723020BLA642
August 2011
firmware MNGOA5C0
5
Idle
17
5.3 W
Seek
18
7.8 W
Seagate Barracuda XT 2TB ST32000651AS
May 2010
firmware CC13
7~8
Idle
17
7.0 W
Seek
18~19
7.9 W
WD VelociRaptor 1TB WD1000DHTZ-04N21V0
March 2012
firmware 04.06A00
7
[bare]
Idle
[16~17]
18
4.0 W
[bare]
Seek
[27]
32
5.3 W

Seagate generously provided us with four sample drives of this model, and they
exhibited some variance in terms of vibration. On our subjective scale, one
scored 7~8, two scored 8, and the fourth scored 8~9, for an average result of
8. If you decide to pick up a 4TB NAS HDD, chances are, vibration won’t be an
issue. Noise levels were fairly consistent across the samples as was energy
efficiency. This model appears to have a headparking feature that shaves 0.7
W off the idle power consumption but it’s not very aggressive, kicking in after
about 40 seconds of nonuse.

While we don’t really have any complaints about its environmental characteristics,
in almost every area, the WD Red 4TB is just a bit better.

AUDIO RECORDINGS

These recordings were made with a high resolution, lab quality, digital recording
system inside SPCR’s own 11
dBA ambient anechoic chamber
, then converted to LAME 128kbps encoded MP3s.
We’ve listened long and hard to ensure there is no audible degradation from
the original WAV files to these MP3s. They represent a quick snapshot of what
we heard during the review.

These recordings are intended to give you an idea of how the product sounds
in actual use — one meter is a reasonable typical distance between a computer
or computer component and your ear. The recording contains stretches of ambient
noise that you can use to judge the relative loudness of the subject. Be aware
that very quiet subjects may not be audible — if we couldn’t hear it from
one meter, chances are we couldn’t record it either!

The recordings start with 5 to 10 seconds of ambient noise, then 10 second
segments of the drive in the following states: idle, seek with AAM enabled (if
applicable), and seek with AAM disabled.

Desktop Hard Drive Comparatives:

FINAL THOUGHTS

The Seagate NAS HDD 4TB is another high capacity drive that puts performance
on the back burner to achieve quiet, low vibration, and energy efficient operation.
Its obvious competitor is the WD
Red 4TB
which offers many of the same features. The Red edges forward
in a very close race. The Red scored 6% higher overall in our real world performance
tests but again, it was an incredibly tight contest. Take away the NAS HDD’s
poor boot time (which is obviously not a factor in a NAS that’s always on) or
ExactFile result, and we’re left with a virtual dead-heat. But if you judge
which is the superior drive based on environmental characteristics, the Red
has the advantage there as well. It performs slightly better in every category
except for power consumption when seeking.

Still, the overall difference is so small that it would be hard to differentiate
the two in a real-world setting. The biggest measurable difference is the NAS
HDD’s slightly higher noise output when seeking. You’d be hard pressed to discern
this unless the drives were in very close proximity. NAS boxes and small servers
are typically placed in closets or out-of-the-way corners so it’s unlikely acoustics
even come into the equation.

Seagate’s solution has one important advantage: Lower price. The US$160
street price of the Seagate NAS HDD 4TB is quite a bit cheaper than the US$190
WD Red 4TB. You certainly don’t lose much by going with the cheaper drive, and
the price difference balloons as the number of drives increases. If you go with
Seagate, filling a four-bay NAS will save you US$120. Bump it up to five
and that last drive is practically free compared with five WD Reds. For most
users, the WD Red 4TB’s slight advantages are negligible compared to the cost
advantage of the Seagate NAS HDD 4TB, making the latter the more pragmatic option.

Many thanks to Seagate
for the NAS HDD 4TB hard drive samples.


Seagate NAS HDD 4TB is Recommended by SPCR

* * *

SPCR Articles of Related Interest:

Western Digital Red 4TB & Se 4TB Hard Drives
Western Digital Red 3TB & 1TB Hard Drives
WD VelociRaptor 1TB and Scorpio Blue 500GB
Icy Dock 2.5"/3.5" Drive Accessories
Hitachi Deskstar 7K3000 2TB Hard Drive
Tiché PC HDD Vibration Killer

* * *

Discuss
this article in the SPCR Forums

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *