Time certainly marches on, and it just seems like yesterday that Seagate’s latest generation of Network Attached Storage ‘IronWolf’ series was released. We were lucky to get our hands on a pair of the non-pro / ‘standard’ IronWolf 16TB Hard Disk Drives shortly after their release and walked away highly impressed with their rather potent combination of performance and value. Since then, a funny thing has happened. Where once was a rather significant jump in price from the IronWolf to IronWolf Pro 16TB now there is… well a minor bump. So much so, recently we have even seen the IronWolf Pro 16TB go on sale for less than the standard IronWolf 16TB model, though on average the price difference is now a mere $25 – with the IronWolf Pro asking a flat $500 (USD) and the standard IronWolf 16TB demanding $475.
On paper that is one sweet deal, as that extra $25 will net buyers 2 years of recovery service (Seagate’s “Rescue Data Recovery Service”); a five year warranty instead of 3; noticeably higher performance(255MBs vs 210); noticeably better workload rating (300TB vs 180); and numerous under the hood improvements (e.g. better antivibration compensation, longer factory testing, etc.) that go hand in hand with making a model not only survive but thrive in 24 bay NAS enclosures (instead of 8 or less like the standard IronWolf is rated for). Put simply $25 appears to get you a better drive for your money.
This change certainly is unusual, but not without precedence. High production models sometimes do get noticeable price reductions compared to less expensive models that – for whatever reason – do not sell in as large quantities. This in conjunction with increased pressure by the coemption can indeed cause a model that was arguably overpriced to get yanked back down into reality by the ‘invisible hand’ of the market. That basically is what is happening here. The standard IronWolf 16TB’s price has stayed pretty stable, whereas the IronWolf Pro 16TB’s has fallen like a proverbial brick. This change represents one heck of a potential opportunity. One that some may be hesitant to pull the trigger on… as “there is no such thing as a free lunch” and a slashed asking price sometimes means there is an underlying issue making the manufacture ‘dump’ a model as quickly as possible.
Spoiler alert… there isn’t any obvious design flaws. We stress tested the Pro well beyond are already high standards and neither of the two drives sent for review gave even a single hiccup. Instead the only ‘real’ question buyers have to ask themselves is if the extra $25 per drive is worth it or not, as the standard IronWolf is a rather good drive. To be blunt, there does come a point where ‘good enough’ is more than good enough… and when thinking about 8 drives in a RAID array that does add up to real money. In this review we will put the IronWolf Pro 16TB under the microscope – in and out of RAID configurations – and give our opinion(s) and recommendation(s) on who the Pro model is right for… and who should think about saving the cash for other upgrades. So without giving away too much, let’s dig in.