Can you have too much storage space? Not too long ago, we were all carrying everything that mattered on tiny 1.44MB floppy disks, and yet here we are reviewing the Seagate IronWolf 10TB internal hard drive.
While hard drive capacities of these sizes may at first seem excessive, there are two important things to consider. First of all, as hard drive capacities have increased, so too have file sizes, and that's likely to continue. Secondly, Seagate's IronWolf hard drives are designed for NAS (Network Attached Storage) devices that sit in the centre of your home or business network and store important files and irreplaceable backups from a number of computers.
When you’re running one of the best NAS devices, along with a large numbers of computers that need to store files and full backups, storage space has a tendency to vanish. The Seagate IronWolf is therefore not the type of hard drive you’re likely to just throw haphazardly into a single desktop computer.
If 10TB still feels like too much space, you can also get the IronWolf hard drives in 1TB, 2TB, 3TB, 4TB, 6TB and 8TB capacities as well. The 10TB version will set you back £314 ($264, AU$469). And, if 10TB isn’t enough, Seagate is now also offering a 12TB drive.
Features and Specifications
As the IronWolf drive has been specially made for NAS devices it comes with a number of features that you wouldn't normally find in a standard internal hard drive. These features allow the IronWolf to perform reliably 24/7 with large amounts of data coming and going, all while keeping power consumption low.
It can be fitted in 1 to 8-bay NAS devices, and for our tests we put two IronWolf 10TB Hard Drives into a 2-bay QNAP TS-251A NAS drive. As you'd expect of a NAS hard drive, the IronWolf is optimised for RAID, and comes with technology Seagate calls 'AgileArray', featuring rotational vibration sensors which reduce vibration in multi-drive NAS devices. Error recovery control – essential if you're trusting the IronWolf drive with irreplaceable documents – and advanced power management to keep running costs low are also headline features.
Seagate states it can handle a workload of 180TB a year, which is quite a decent amount for small to medium sized businesses. If you're thinking of using this drive in your NAS at home, then it's unlikely you'll be moving that much data to and from the IronWolf.
Other specifications include SATA 6GB/s interface, a max sustained data transfer rate of 210MB/s for the 10TB and 8TB drives (195MB/s for 6TB, 180MB/s for the 4TB, 3TB, 2TB and 1TB drives) and a spindle speed of 7200 RPM for the 10TB, 8TB and 6TB drives (the other capacities make do with 5900RPM), and has 256MB of cache.
Part of the reason Seagate has been able to cram 10TB of storage into the IronWolf's chassis is because it uses seven PMR (Perpendicular Magnetic Recording) discs, as well as using helium to allow for thinner platters. Helium is less dense than air, which reduces the drag force acting on the spinning discs.
So, the specs paint this as a pretty robust and reliable hard drive, but how does it perform? While we can't put its 180TB a year promise to the test, we ran a number of industry recognised benchmarks to see how the drive copes under pressure.
We ran these benchmarks with the IronWolf 10TB hard drive connected directly to our test computer via SATA. In the CrystalDiskMark benchmark test we saw sequential read speeds of 250.2 MB/s and write speeds of 229.2 MB/s, which are very impressive, considering this is a 7200RPM hard drive, and handily beats the Seagate Enterprise Capacity 3.5 HDD V.4 6TB Hard Disk, which reached 213MB/s read and 212MB/s write speeds in the same test.
In our Atto disk benchmark tests, which check the speeds of the hard drive when transferring files of various sizes, the IronWolf 10TB again provided fast speeds that were pretty consistent, of around 249MB/s read and 220MB/s write.
Finally we ran PCMark benchmarks, which gave a score of 2969, which puts it ahead of many of its competitors, though behind the Seagate Enterprise Capacity 3.5 HDD V.4 6TB Hard Disk's score of 3727.
While we didn't have the equipment to test the sound levels in a controlled environment, the IronWolf remained pretty quiet. In fact, the only time we could hear much noise from it was when we installed two of them in the QNAP TS-251A NAS box, formatted them and installed the NAS software.
It's quite understandable for there to be noise when performing intensive tasks such as this, and once installed the drives settled down and became all-but silent. If you have your NAS in your home office or front room (the QNAP TS-251A is a NAS that specialises in being a media server and video transcoder), then it's very unlikely you'll be bothered by the noise of the IronWolf when in use.