6 TB Hard Drive Round-Up: WD Red, WD Green, Seagate Enterprise
Our Summary and Conclusion
Performance Summary: Now that the drives have been benchmarked and the dust has settled, there is one drive that is clearly the fastest in the bunch, and that's the Seagate Enterprise Capacity 6TB V4 (sometimes listed as "Constellation ES"). However, that speed comes with a cost, as the Seagate 6TB drive is roughly $200 more than the WD 6TB drives it is facing off against. To be honest, we love its speed, but the reality is in 99 percent of real-world *home user* scenarios you would not see enough difference between the Seagate drive and the others to justify its cost. When we asked Seagate for a 6TB drive for review, it naturally sent us its fastest specimen, the ST6000NM0024 model we reviewed here. However, it also offers a slower 5,900rpm version for just $259 (street) that has the same 6TB capacity, and the same 128MB cache. That would be more of a fair fight, and our knowledgeable opinion is that it would perform closely along side the WD drives due to the specs being almost equal, leaving us with a three-way tie.
Seagate Enterprise Capacity V4, no doubt about it. The WD Red and Green drives are both so similar in specification and performance we have a hard time drawing any meaningful distinctions between them. We reached out to WD to ask them to explain the specific differences between these two drives, but we never got a lot of detail. If we do, we'll be sure to post it right here. In our estimation, both drives are fast, quiet, and affordable, which is a tough combination to beat. There's nothing to complain about really with either the Red or the Green. Sure, we'd love for them to be as fast as the Seagate drive while costing less, but, as in life, there's no free lunch in the hardware world, and you usually get what you pay for. If we were merely warehousing data and not using a 6TB drive for running apps and the OS, we'd get either the Red or the Green drive, or we'd hold out for the $260 8TB drive incoming from Seagate. If you're the type of user who hasn't yet upgraded to an SSD, and are using a hard drive for running programs and games, go with the Seagate drive, if you don't mind the steep price premium.
Now that we have the performance results
covered, it’s time to see how all of these drives stack up in terms of
price. The chart posted below lists all of the drives featured here,
along with their current street price as of press time, and completely
capacity details. Please note, cost per GB was calculated using actual
formatted / usable capacities.
Prices Current As Of December 15, 2014
As you can see, the Seagate is nearly twice as expensive per gigabyte as its competitors, which is something to consider. Sure, it's faster, but that's quite a disadvantage in this extremely price sensitive category. If the price comes down to $300, we'll be on board immediately. As it stands though, it's a bit too expensive for what is mostly a data warehouse. We're all using SSDs for our OS now, and only use hard drives to store and fetch media, so we don't need maximum performance like in the old days when we relied on a hard drive to boot our OS and run our games and applications. Seagate's HDD is a very solid 6TB drive and leads its competitors in all of our tests, no question. But it's just too expensive for many use cases, with the exception of workstation, enterprise or data center applications that need every bit of bandwidth they can get out of a bulk storage solution.
When considering the WD alternatives, both Red and Green drives seemed priced appropriately and ran cool and quiet throughout testing. We have nothing to complain about, as they seemed to do the job and won't require the cost upside we saw with Seagate's offering. All in all, we're happy to recommend all three drives, but there are caveats to that all-important price performance curve that you'll have to calculate for yourself, based on your specific needs and wants.