Western Digital’s internet hard disk drives recently underwent a re-branding exercise. Previously, the company didn’t have any drives targeted specifically at the home Network Attached Storage (NAS) segment. It had the desktop Green, Blue and Black series, while the enterprise segment had the RE4 drives. To cater specifically to the growing home/SOHO/SMB NAS market, the company came up with the WD RED.
On the website, the Red drives are touted as “Designed and tested for RAID environments”; this could mean RAID arrays on a workstation or more likely, NAS devices. Currently, the Red drives range from 750GB to 4TB, but as we know, that upper limit keeps getting pushed, so an even larger capacity Red drive in the near future won’t surprise us.
All drives nowadays have the SATA 6 Gb/s interface and the Red is no different. One thing though, the Red is also available in the 2.5-inch form factor, but for this review, we will be looking at the larger 3.5-inch desktop drive. The on-board cache ranges from 16MB to 64MB and the drives come with WD’s 3-year limited warranty.
In terms of appearance, the WD Red is like any other 3.5-inch desktop hard disk. Our 4TB drive is the top-of-the-range WD40EFRX which has a 64MB buffer and a rotational speed that varies between 5,400 and up to 7,200 RPM; WD calls this variable speed technology as “IntelliPower”. On paper, this model has an MTBF (Mean Time Between Failure) of 1,000,000 hours. For more detailed specifications, see the table below.
To put the WD Red 4TB drive through our benchmark tests, we used the following hardware:
- Intel DZ87KLT-75K motherboard
- Intel Core i7-4770k processor
- Kingston HyperX 2GB DDR3 1600MHz (KHX1600C9AD3B1/2G)
- Kingston 128GB SSDNow V300 Solid-State Drive
- Windows 7 32-bit Service Pack 1 with all the latest updates
- Intel NAS Performance Test (NASPT) ver. 1.7.1
- CrystalDiskMark ver. 3.0.3
- ATTO Disk Benchmark 32-bit ver. 2.4.7
The drive was connected to the motherboard via the on-board Intel SATA 6 Gb/s port. Intel’s NAS Performance Test (NASPT) requires system ram to be not more than 2GB to eliminate buffer issues during file transfer.
In ATTO, the WD40EFRX had relatively consistent transfer rates of around 146MB/sec for both read and write operations. This was echoed in the CrystalDiskMark test which gave the drive a read speed of 147.5 MB/sec and a write speed of 142.8 MB/sec. For random read/write operations involving 512KB data chunks, the speed dropped to 46.44MB/sec and 84.27MB/sec for reads and writes respectively.
Moving on to Intel’s NASPT, the WD40EFRX is definitely more than capable of streaming multiple streams of HD video, with a transfer speed of above 130MB/sec (on average) when doing video playback. File copying topped 162 MB/sec for writing and 148MB/sec for reads. Content creation registered 20.2MB/sec which is pretty respectable considering the highly randomized read/write ops. All in, the WD40EFRX is definitely no slouch when it comes to performance. Though it is meant for RAID arrays, this drive can definitely stand up to the competition even in standalone situations.
For an indication of its performance in a NAS, refer to our review of Synology’s DS214 NAS.
Apart from its impressive performance, we also noticed that the WD Red is very silent during operation. In addition, there was hardly any vibration coming from the Synology DS214 NAS which had both WD Red drive standing vertically. This might seem trivial, but for those who are running NAS devices 24/7 in their homes, a silent and smooth-running drive will make a difference, especially if the NAS is in the bedroom.
If you’re looking for a hard disk to set up a RAID array, look no further than the WD Red range. It will not disappoint and best of all, it’s affordably priced compared to the RE4 drives which are meant for the enterprise market. Kudos to WD for looking out for the home/SOHO market!