The Toshiba N300 is an excellent NAS hard drive that is a great choice if you want one (or more) hard drives that offer plenty of space, as well as rock solid reliability.
Great NAS features
Very good speeds
Overkill for non-NAS devices
Not the fastest NAS drive
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The Toshiba N300 hard drive is a storage device that’s been specifically built for NAS (network attached storage) devices which run constantly, often providing storage to large files from a number of networked PCs.
This means that while it eschews the bells and whistles of standard hard drives, such as super-fast speeds, it instead focuses on reliability. This is a drive that has been designed to be installed in servers that remain active every hour of every day.
These devices usually store incredibly important data – or backups of that incredibly important data – so the drive they house needs to be incredibly dependable. While Toshiba is sometimes better known for its fancy electronic devices, it also has a very good reputation for enterprise products such as hard drives
The Toshiba N300 series comes in three high capacities: 4TB (the one we’ve reviewed here), 6TB and 8TB. The 4TB version costs £120 (around $160, AU$200), while the 6TB version will set you back £200 (around $260, AU$350), and the 8TB version costs £250 (around $320, AU$440).
This is slightly more expensive than standard hard drives for day-to-day computing, but it’s slightly less expensive than the WD Red 8TB, which costs £300 ($325, around AU$500).
Features and specifications
As with many hard drives designed for NAS devices, one of the headline features is that it comes in high capacities, with even the lowest capacity still offering a mighty 4TB of storage space. The Toshiba N300 range can be installed in NAS devices that can handle up to eight hard drives in various RAID configurations, which means you could buy a number of Toshiba N300 hard drives and have a potentially huge amount of storage space.
Because you’re going to be storing a lot of important data on the hard drive, it needs to be able to protect that data. One of the features of the Toshiba N300 range is integrated RV sensors. Having many hard drives running constantly in a NAS device can cause vibrations as the discs spin, and these vibrations can cause read and write errors.
With multiple integrated RV sensors, the Toshiba N300 can detect the slightest knocks or tremors, and can compensate for those vibrations, helping to keep the data intact.
A large number of drives that are constantly running can cause a lot of heat, and a lot of heat can cause further problems, but the Toshiba N300 comes with heat prevention technology that copes well with higher temperatures, as well as lowering the seek speed during particularly high temperature operations to keep the discs running cool as possible.
Of course, this means that you’re sometimes sacrificing speed for reliability, so while this means the Toshiba N300 isn’t terribly suitable for use cases where data transfer speeds are essential, such as video editing, they are more useful if you need highly dependable hard drives for storing files for a long time.
Toshiba also claims these drives can cope with a 180TB per year workload – which is a hell of a lot of data transfers – and it comes with a three year warranty as well.
Despite throttling the speeds when temperatures get too hot, Toshiba is still bullish about the transfer rates the N300 can achieve, claiming speeds of 200MB/s. This is achieved thanks to a 128MB buffer, and a rotational speed of 7,200 RPM, which is faster than the speeds of many NAS-orientated hard drives, such as the WD Red, which spins at only 5,400 RPM.
So does the increase in RPM result in a faster drive? The answer is a clear yes, with the Toshiba N300 4TB hard drive reaching sequential read speeds of 210MB/s, and write speeds of 209.2MB/s in the CrystalDiskMark benchmark test.
In comparison, the WD Rd 8TB scored read speeds of 185MB/s and write speeds of 185.4MB/s. That’s quite a difference, and mainly down to the faster spin speeds of the Toshiba N300.
Regardless, the Toshiba N300 also performed brilliantly in the ATTO benchmark, scoring read speeds of 208MB/s and write speeds of 209MB/s. It’s nice to see read and write speeds so close together – many hard drives have a gulf between the faster read speeds and the slower write speeds.
In our real-world tests, we moved a 1GB file to the Toshiba N300 in 19 seconds, which is pretty great. While we couldn’t test the Toshiba N300 under extreme loads, where the temperature management features may kick in and slow down the hard drive, overall we were very impressed with the N300’s performance.
The Toshiba N300 comes with some excellent features specifically for running in NAS devices, which ensures that the hard drive works well in busy environments, while keeping the data it holds safe.
It has a standard 3.5-inch design which means it can easily be installed in PCs, servers and NAS devices, but not laptops. The high capacities are welcome, and its fast RPM means it delivers very good data transfer speeds.
We didn’t like
It’s expensive for a hard drive, though not too bad for a NAS-orientated device. However, because it is so focussed on NAS features, it means it’s not quite the fastest hard drive available, and if you’re looking for a standard hard drive for a typical desktop PC, you’d be paying for features that you do not need – or could even be detrimental to your computing experience.
The Toshiba N300 is an excellent hard drive for NAS devices, coming with loads of features that give us confidence that any important files stored here will be very well looked after. It offers a nice range of high capacities, and while the price is high compared to a standard hard drive, for a NAS drive with these kind of features, it’s very competitively priced.
Speeds are also excellent, so you won’t have to worry too much if you need to get files quickly, or copy files to, your NAS device.
The fact that really, the only negative we can find with this hard drive is that it’s focus on being a NAS device means it’s not suitable for everyone, speaks volumes – this really is an excellent specialist hard drive that would perform brilliantly. Thanks to its relatively low price compared to its competitors, it also means that you can add a number of N300s to your NAS device or server for an affordable cost.
Matt is TechRadar's Managing Editor for Core Tech, looking after computing and mobile technology. Having written for a number of publications such as PC Plus, PC Format, T3 and Linux Format, there's no aspect of technology that Matt isn't passionate about, especially computing and PC gaming. Ever since he got an Amiga A500+ for Christmas in 1991, he's loved using (and playing on) computers, and will talk endlessly about how The Secret of Monkey Island is the best game ever made.