alt text

Just when you thought classic 3.5-inch hard disk drives could not possibly get any bigger without using more exotic storage technology Seagate engineers went ‘here, hold my beer’. Somehow, they managed to use PMR+ (with Helium) and crammed a whopping sixteen Terabytes of capacity in standard 3.5-inch form factor drive! So far these monster drives are only available in two series: Seagate’s Exos and IronWolf. Today we are going to start our investigation of both series with a long hard look at the $480 16 Terabyte IronWolf. To be more precise we will be looking at the ‘standard’ IronWolf 16TB capacity model and not the IronWolf Pro variant.

While it may seem downright outlandish to place ‘value’ and ‘$480 asking price’ in the same sentence that is precisely what Seagate IronWolf engineers set out to do. For a foundation the new IronWolf shares almost nothing in common with older ‘value orientated’ NAS models. Instead features that usually only come standard with higher end models are included for free. Features such as dual-plane balancing to reduce internal vibrations from killing the drive. On-board anti-vibration sensors to keep the drive from shaking itself apart in less than optimal NAS enclosures. Even 7200RPM rotational speed to keep random I/O performance high. In fact, the only things that keep this ‘standard’ IronWolf from being a ‘Pro’ model is a lowered yearly work load rating of 180TB instead of 300TB, 8 drive bay warranty limitation… and three year instead of five-year warranty. However, that three-year warranty does come with free Data Recovery Services for the first two (and can be cheaply upgraded for the full warranty period), and when talking about this much data… that is a good thing to say the least.

alt text
Put another way the new IronWolf standard models are meant to slot in nicely between Western Digital’s entry level Network Attached Storage device orientated models (which used to be called WD Red) and Western Digital’s higher end models, and beat both on overall value. After all, sixteen Terabytes of capacity for only $480 is one hell of a bargain. Such a bargain that we cannot think of another series – from any manufacture- that can compete with this unless buyers opt for Shingle Magnetic Recording (SMR) based models… and accept the lack of write performance that goes along with SMR technology. Put simply the new standard IronWolf 16TB capacity model may just re-write the ‘rules’ of SOHO Network Attached Storage purchases and instead of having to buy either capacity or performance average buyers will be able to get both and stay within their budget.

So, to see if the new IronWolf 16TB is as good a deal as it appears to be, we will be testing not only one but two of these wee beasties. This way we can show you our loyal readers both single and RAID performance numbers. Armed with this information you can then make an informed decision on whether or not this new Network Attached Storage model is indeed right for your needs, or if stepping up a price notch or two is a good idea.

Full Review


I wonder if the cheaper price per TB is worth the loss in 2 years of warranty compared to all the other drives reviewed, personally I'd be on the fence about that...

last edited by Arinoth

@Arinoth fully agree, with HDD's it's not a matter of if they will fail but when.

Plus with seagate and WD full warranty the support is top notch so totally a must have

Usually it really comes down to workload. I have had 3 year drives last 7 and 8 years. I have had 3 year drives last 2. Same for 5 year warranty drives. Basically if you are hammering them (especially for more than 8 hours a day) the extra 2 year warranty will pay for itself. NOT because they come with a longer warranty, rather because they are built to an even higher standard. A standard that can handle the higher stress. EG extra warranty doesnt matter if its a home NAS that is going to spend most of its life in idle/sleep mode. Will if your NAS is running 16hr days 😉

I say 'usually' as the IronWolf std edition is better built than any WD RED Pro I have seen. It is a 5 year built drive with a 3 year warranty and 3 year warranty asking price. Killer deal.

IMHO this is all because Seagate got sick and tired of the negative reports and rep their lower tiered drives were getting (because of BackBlaze and peeps who do not understand nuance and what BB were doing to drives never meant for such conditions). So they overbuilt their entire line-up. Built the 3 yr drives to 5 year standards, built their typical 5 to Enterprise stds. Built their typical Ent models to Exos stds... and the new Exos X is basically built like a tank. A tank that is also filled with insane low level goodies.

Basically the major differences between std and Pro IronWolf seres is performance (pro is going to be even faster), and robustness. The Pros can easily be stuck in a BackBlaze 48drive enclosure and be abused like only Backblaze abuse drives.... whereas the std IronWolfs really should not be used in above 16 bay configs (Seagate is being UBER conservative on 1-8 bay specs). So 1-8 drive configs... it will be all about speed. Got a need for speed and want a bit more 'peace of mind' go Pro. Got only 1 or 2GBe NIC / network and understand that the std will probably last years and years past its warranty period... save a few bucks and go std edition.

Cant go wrong with either. Balance your needs vs your wants... and go from there.

last edited by GaK_45