In many ways it is a great time to be a PC enthusiast. The cost of building an amazing quad core system is at an all-time low. Video cards are getting so fast even ‘entry level’ cards “PNY GTX 750 Ti OC 2GB” offer enough performance potential that you no longer have to sell a kidney to have the eye candy turned up and get playable frame rates. As for games, they have never looked so good; and with so many to choose from finding your next 1,000 hour time-sink is as simple as opening up Steam – and your wallet.
Unfortunately one thing that has not kept up with the rest of the industry is storage. Sure you can find 1TB mega-sized solid state drives, but even if you can afford the arm, leg, and first born child asking price…that’s really only a couple games worth of space. For us 1TB is about 1/24th of what we would need to download our Steam library, and like most self-professed ‘gamers’ that library is growing awfully damn fast.
While we are fortunate enough to have a 24TB RAID array setup for our personal library, most consumers do not have this luxury. In fact nearly all groups of consumers are now feeling the storage crunch. Oddly enough the two groups hardest hit by the Hard Disk Drive industry being so slow are radically different and represent both ends of the spectrum. On the one end of the marketplace are enterprise consumers who run cloud storage servers. These people make our piddly 24TB array seem like small change, and having to add extra server racks just so as to keep up with storage demands is a major financial burden. On the other end of the spectrum is Small Form Factor enthusiasts who not only create kick ass PC gaming systems but also systems which are (usually) limited to two HDDs and a SSD for the OS.
Right now Seagate actually does have a consumer drive that comes in 6TB capacities. They also offer rather fast Solid State Hybrid drives in capacities of up to 4TB. The 6TB drive is a 7200rpm model, and the SSHD may be 4TB of space but that’s only 3.5’ish Terabytes of real world space! This means neither are perfect for that LAN party SFF build you want to put together. After all, having to wait for a map load is a horrible feeling at a game event, and that feeling is only surpassed by not having room for all the games on your hard drive. As for Enterprise consumers both of these models are simply non-starters.
Thankfully the old saying about when you have one problem you really have a problem, but when you have two problems they sometimes solve themselves is actually true. Or at least it is true in that Seagate is taking one of them very, very seriously – and the other gets a free ride on the performance train. Because the cloud storage marketplace relies upon slow 7200rpm hard drives that need to be both as fast and as power efficient as possible, companies like Seagate are doing their best to keep up with demand, and it just so happens a 7200rpm, ultra large, ultra efficient drive is exactly what the doctor ordered for SFF builders. This is why our first Seagate drive to be reviewed is not going to be one of their excellent SSHDs, or any of their consumer grade gear. Rather its going to be one of their best of the best hard drive models. The recently Enterprise Capacity 3.5″ v4 6TB is precisely that. It is massive, it is fast, is rather power efficient, and while it may be expensive it is also built like a tank. Better still it was designed with RAID in mind.
We are of the opinion that if one is good, two must always be better and that is why we are not doing a review on just one of these magnificent drives, but rather two of them. While we will at some point be swapping out our existing 8 drive array for six of them, two drives is just about perfect for most people. As we said SFF builds usually are limited to two drives and having 12TB (more like 11 and change) of space should satisfy most consumers needs.
While we have very little doubts on the performance side of the equation, we do have doubts about the value of these drives. After all with a combined asking price of nearly $1300 these two drives are bloody expensive. This is why in order to impress us they will need to not only be large and fast, but also prove beyond a shadow of a doubt why they are worth their high price tags.