Seagate Ironwolf vs. WD RED – NAS Hard Drives Compared

When I was choosing the hard drives for my DIY NAS NVR system, I did a ton of research. I wanted to record all my IP cameras 24/7, so reliability and performance were very important to me. In this article, I will share all my findings so that you have all the information you need to make the right choice.

Seagate Ironwolf vs WD RED - VueVille

Seagate Ironwolf vs. WD RED Comparison

Seagate IronWolf (6-12 TB)Seagate IronWolf (4 TB)WD RED (8-12 TB)WD RED (4 TB)
24/7 operation
Spindle speed 7200 rpm 5900 rpm ~5400 rpm ~5400 rpm
Max sustained data transfer rate 210 MB/s 180 MB/s 210 MB/s 178 MB/s
Cache 256 MB 64 MB 256 MB 64 MB
RAID support All configurations All configurations All configurations All configurations
Enclosure 1-8 bay 1-8 bay Up to 8-bay or rack mounted Up to 8-bay or rack mounted
Workload 180 TB/year 180 TB/year 180 TB/year 180 TB/year
MTBF 1 million hours 1 million hours 1 million hours 1 million hours
Non-recoverable Read Errors per Bits <1 in 10^15 <1 in 10^14 <1 in 10^14 <1 in 10^14
Load/unload cycles 600,000 600,000 600,000 600,000
Power-on hours 8760 8760 Not disclosed Not disclosed
Vibration sensor
Average power consumption 7.8 - 8.8 W 4.8 W 5.7 - 8.8 W 5.3 W
Idle power consumption 5.0 - 7.6 W 3.95 W 2.8 - 5.3 W 3.4 W
Standby power consumption 0.6 - 0.8 W 0.5 W 0.5 - 0.8 W 0.4 W
Noise levels 27-32 dB 23 - 25 dB 20 - 29 dB 25 - 28 dB
Warranty 1M hours MTBF 3-year limited warranty 1M hours MTBF 3-year limited warranty 3 years limited warranty 3 years limited warranty

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Comparing real-life benchmarks of the Ironwolf 4TB vs. WD RED 4TB, overall the Ironwolf is much faster.

Independent testing by other publications such as have also shown that the Ironwolf drives are much faster than the WD RED drives.

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While we may not have specific reliability data for the Ironwolf and RED drives, one cloud storage provider regularly publishes drive failure data for all the drives it uses – Backblaze.

Looking at the latest Backblaze data, in general the WD drives appear to have less reliability than Seagate. But at lower capacities, Seagate seems to be much worse. So a real mixed bag. Although do note the sample size is much larger in Seagate’s case for most drive sizes, generally the higher the sample size, the more accurate the data becomes.

BackBlaze Q1 2018 Lifetime Drive Stats - VueVille

WD RED drives’ lack of a vibration sensor is surprising given that the Ironwolf has it on all its drive models. Also worth noting is that the WD RED’s Nonrecoverable Read Errors Rate of 1 in 10^14 is worse than that of the Ironwolf’s 1 in 10^15.

So let’s call it a tie when it comes to reliability.

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Noise levels

The Ironwolf runs at higher RPMs compared to the WD RED, so its no surprise that the Ironwolf is also louder on average than the WD RED drives.

I have been using WD RED drives in my QNAP TS-253A and can confirm that these drives are super quiet. I have my NAS in my living room, inside the TV unit and can barely hear the drives when they are active.

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The VueVille Verdict

Performance – Seagate Ironwolf wins
Reliability – Tie
Noise – WD Red wins

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So which one did I choose?

I wanted to run a RAID 1 setup so that all my data would be backed up on 2 disk drives – for this reason I was not after absolute speed and the WD RED drives were available at a better price point.

Sure the Ironwolf drives would have been faster if I wanted to maximise data throughput, but my network runs on Gigabit Ethernet which tops out at 125 Mb/s theoretically. The RED hard drives could easily max that out, so I had nothing to gain by going for the Ironwolf. Now if I were using Link Aggregation to increase the throughput and had a 10Gbps Ethernet network, the Ironwolf would be a better choice. But for now, I am very happy with my WD REDs.

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Where to buy

Seagate IronWolf 6TB NAS Drive

WD Red 6TB NAS Drive

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I am Daniel and VueVille is where I document my DIY smart home journey. I focus on 100% local-processing and local-storage because that’s the only way to secure my family’s safety and privacy. Oh and I don’t like monthly subscriptions!

  1. Are these basic WD Red (SMR) drives, or Red Plus (CMR)?

  2. Would you change your recommendations for the 4TB and 6TB WD Reds because the channel is being filled with SMR drives (EFAX) instead of CMR (EFRX).
    SMR drives for NAS workloads (even consumer workloads) is not proven yet, end users and their data should wait for vendors to get the technology right for the use-case.

    • Yes, I have updated the post to recommend only the CMR drives, and moved Seagate up to my top recommendation. SMR drives have pathetically slow re-silvering times vs CMR drives.

  3. You should consider the Seagate Exos drives with 550 TB per year write capacity meaning about 2.5 petabytes during the warranty period. Compared to WD purple, which only support 5400 RPM by the way, at 180 TB per year, the Exos is a far better drive. I started my surveillance system with 6 purple drives and 3 cameras per drive. All six purple drives failed within the warranty period. I’ve switched to all Exos drives and am hoping for a far better result.

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