Review: Western Digital Red
In mid-July, Western Digital announced a new range of mechanical hard drives specifically designed for consumer and small-business network attached storage (NAS) units.
Harley Ogier | Wednesday, October 31 2012
Product type: 3.5-inch SATA hard drive
RRP incl GST: $169 (1TB), $209 (2TB, as reviewed), $279 (3TB)
- SATA 6Gbps
- 64MB DDR2 cache
- 'IntelliPower' dynamic rotation speed
Good performance with low heat and noise, but seems to offer little advantage over existing WD Green drives.
In mid-July, Western Digital announced a new range of mechanical hard drives specifically designed for network attached storage (NAS) units. WD Red drives, for consumer and very-small-business NAS, join the company’s existing Green (low-power), Blue (everyday) and Black (enthusiast) ranges of drives.
Currently, WD Red drives are available in 3.5-inch form factor only, with 1TB, 2TB or 3TB capacity. All Red drives include a 64MB DDR2 cache, faster than the DDR memory used in Western Digital’s previous drives. Rotation speed is dynamic, controlled by the company's ‘IntelliPower’ technology.
Since launch, we’ve been testing a pair of 2TB WD Red drives (WD20EFRX) loaded into a dual-bay Synology DS211j DiskStation NAS, configured RAID 1 (mirror). For speed tests, the NAS was connected to a current-model Sony VAIO laptop via gigabit-Ethernet.
As a point of comparison, we also ran the same tests on a pair of brand new 1TB WD Green drives (WD10EZRX). These also feature a 64MB cache, and the same dynamic ‘IntelliPower’ rotation speed.
During our disk-intensive tests, the WD Red drive achieved an average of 52MBytes/sec reads and 51MBytes/sec writes working with uncompressed 1GB files, and 47MBytes/sec read/41MBytes/sec write working with collections of 1000 x 1MB files. ‘Worst case’, transferring 2500 x 1KB files, ran at 0.19MBytes/sec read and 0.25MBytes/sec write. The drive was inaudible during testing (quieter than the NAS unit’s fan), and drive temperature held within the 30-34°C range.
The WD Green drives yielded nearly identical results in transfer speed, noise level and temperature. The Red drives advertise notably lower power usage – 4.4W idle/0.6W sleep for the 2TB Red, versus 6W idle/0.8W sleep for the 2TB Green. Unfortunately that’s the one area we couldn’t measure.
With current retail prices, you’ll pay approximately 27% more for a 1TB WD Red drive than a Green drive. For the 2TB version, Red is around 19% more costly than Green. Is it worth the extra? For an always-on NAS box with two or more drives, the lower power consumption could be a drawcard. The way many mainstream NAS vendors are now offering specific support for WD Red drives also makes it a ‘safe’ option, a nice automatic choice. However, we certainly wouldn’t recommend you replace existing perfectly functional WD Green drives with WD Red.
Overall, functional and quiet internal drives for any small NAS unit, but in no way remarkable. We look forward to seeing how the WD Red series evolves, though.
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