HDD selection and prices - it makes no sense!

When choosing HDDs for NAS I am planning, I went through many “Best NAS HDD” and I always see this scheme:

  • best all-around HDD for NAS - WD Red
  • cheaper of it - Seagate Ironwolf
  • better quality - WD Red Pro
  • cheaper of it - Ironwolf Pro
  • DC-class drives - Exos or HGST rebrand under WD, and WD Gold as a…well, gold standard

and this should go in hand with prices as per people presenting it this way, but…well, that is not a case at all, actually prices go down like this (I wil include 4TB and 6TB drives as prices go nuts…):

110$ WD Red 4TB
152$ WD HC310 4TB
169$ WD Gold (new) 4TB
172$ WD HC310 6TB
178$ WD Red Pro 4TB
190$ WD Red 6TB (EFAX, so SMR)
223$ WD Red Pro 6TB
225$ WD Gold (new) 6TB --I think I saw them recently for under 210$

(Prices are actually in EUR, but it doesn’t really matter, those are usually 1:1 or even lower in USD)

How is it possible 6TB Red or Red Pro are so expensive compared to HC310 or even Gold (depends on a model)? Both have considerably better specs (MTBF, Non-recoverable errors per bits read, workload per year,…), not mentioning a speed.

Does Red Pro have any advantage to HC310 or Gold? Even in terms of a noise they are the same, but everything else is in a favor of HC310/Gold. I guess then the same question could be ask as for HC310 vs. Gold, but still…

On another note, can someone, who has an experience with these various drives, tell me if the noise is really that bad compared to something like WD Red? I am planning on a NAS, which I will have in my office/bedroom and a case will be probably Fractal Define R6 (so somehow silenced case), and…well, it will sound a bit selfish, but I would like to sleep in that room as well, however I would rather build a smaller capacity NAS with drives with better paper reliability if it makes the sense.

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I can tell you that one difference between the drives are buffer size. The 6tb drives you mention have everything from wd red with 64mb to the hc310 with 256mb. As for noise, my wd reds do give some noise, more than I can sleep through. But I don’t have any reference to the others.

HGST is owned by WD, which is why WD now has the Ultrastar series under their name.

For WD, the server/nas drives have this hirachy:

  • Gold
  • Ultrastar
  • Red Pro
  • Red

I have a Gold for my game library, and when it does I/O it is the loudest I have (compared to WD Red, Black and Blue).

Some models have a more comprehensive warranty as well. Exos used to offer next day no argument replacement for 5 years.

Another brand to consider, Toshiba, n300 6tb for example.

Don’t underestimate supply and demand factors. The vendor may just happen to have a large pallet of the enterprise drives that are near their sale or return date, and the 6TiB consumer drives may be super popular so they are marked up. Sometimes a “better” drive is actually mechanically older (ie. Sat in a container ship for a year in port) rather than fresh off the boat. Whilst it doesn’t make much difference it can to some buyers who get a “new” disk and see the manufacture date is 2018.

For your use case the individual disk reliability is irrelevant and within the bathtub curve error bound of “they are the same”. You would need to buy hundreds of disks to see a statistical difference in reliability. Backblaze show this with their reliability reports.

At the end of the day do you want quiet 5400rpm drives or fast 7200 rpm drives. That is the only real difference in that group.

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7.2k drives need better cooling than the 5400 or 5900rpm drives. If you want to keep them under 40C temps. FYI

Drives would be placed in Define R6, so they would have a direct airflow from front fans. I hope that would be sufficient.

Airstripone, as for the last part you wrote, that is exactly what I wonder about, how much louder?

Albeit I shall mention I have two WD REDs (4TB) in my PC, both in silencing boxes and I can still hear platters from a distance.

Enterprise/datacenter drives generally aren’t built to be quiet, they are intended to be in a noisy server room so there’s no need.

NAS drives are generally quieter, but they are still not always as quiet as consumer drives.

You can compare the noise levels on WD’s website, they have datasheets on all of their drives and the sheets do include dBA levels for both idle and seek. Just comparing the Reds to the Golds and it looks like the Reds are 4 to 8 dB quieter, which is noticeable.

Get the cheapest nas drives, and get 1 or 2 cold spares. Every drive is doomed to fail at some point, so be ready for it with spare disks.
And remember to back up your nas if your files are irreplaceable.

And my 2 cents on noise: My nas has 10 seagate ironwolfs 4 tb, 5900 rpm, in a fractal design r6.
It’s not quiet enough to put in your bedroom, trust me. Temps are fine, I got 3 120 mm noctua in the front to ensure theres airflow over all disks.
But don’t put it in your bedroom, because you will hear it.
Mine is in my living room (2 room apartment) and I can still hear it.
It’s ofc quieter than a rack server, but if you can, put it somewhere no one sleeps or spend much time.

Edit: I can hear my nas when in my living room and watching tv etc. I can’t hear it in my bedroom.

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Just in case one has an unaccommodating SO

noise point covered by my esteemed colleagues, so I won’t repeat but will add if you already have reds and consider them audible, any increase of disks will not be less audible in any scenario. The best solution for silence is to put them in another room. Mine are in the attic room ( I live in that cold wet place where there is no sun) so are nice and cool all year and away from SWMBO disdain.

The r6 will be fine for your use case, just add fans and don’t have any expectation of easy hotswap when a drive inevitably dies.

Good luck

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