Just when you thought classic 3.5-inch hard disk drives could not possibly get any bigger without using more exotic storage technology Seagate engineers went ‘here, hold my beer’. Somehow, they managed to use PMR+ (with Helium) and crammed a whopping sixteen Terabytes of capacity in standard 3.5-inch form factor drive! So far these monster drives are only available in two series: Seagate’s Exos and IronWolf. Today we are going to start our investigation of both series with a long hard look at the $480 16 Terabyte IronWolf. To be more precise we will be looking at the ‘standard’ IronWolf 16TB capacity model and not the IronWolf Pro variant.
While it may seem downright outlandish to place ‘value’ and ‘$480 asking price’ in the same sentence that is precisely what Seagate IronWolf engineers set out to do. For a foundation the new IronWolf shares almost nothing in common with older ‘value orientated’ NAS models. Instead features that usually only come standard with higher end models are included for free. Features such as dual-plane balancing to reduce internal vibrations from killing the drive. On-board anti-vibration sensors to keep the drive from shaking itself apart in less than optimal NAS enclosures. Even 7200RPM rotational speed to keep random I/O performance high. In fact, the only things that keep this ‘standard’ IronWolf from being a ‘Pro’ model is a lowered yearly work load rating of 180TB instead of 300TB, 8 drive bay warranty limitation… and three year instead of five-year warranty. However, that three-year warranty does come with free Data Recovery Services for the first two (and can be cheaply upgraded for the full warranty period), and when talking about this much data… that is a good thing to say the least.
Put another way the new IronWolf standard models are meant to slot in nicely between Western Digital’s entry level Network Attached Storage device orientated models (which used to be called WD Red) and Western Digital’s higher end models, and beat both on overall value. After all, sixteen Terabytes of capacity for only $480 is one hell of a bargain. Such a bargain that we cannot think of another series – from any manufacture- that can compete with this unless buyers opt for Shingle Magnetic Recording (SMR) based models… and accept the lack of write performance that goes along with SMR technology. Put simply the new standard IronWolf 16TB capacity model may just re-write the ‘rules’ of SOHO Network Attached Storage purchases and instead of having to buy either capacity or performance average buyers will be able to get both and stay within their budget.
So, to see if the new IronWolf 16TB is as good a deal as it appears to be, we will be testing not only one but two of these wee beasties. This way we can show you our loyal readers both single and RAID performance numbers. Armed with this information you can then make an informed decision on whether or not this new Network Attached Storage model is indeed right for your needs, or if stepping up a price notch or two is a good idea.