SEAGATE IRONWOLF 12TB
Who’s afraid of the big, bad IronWolf?
THESE DAYS, STORAGE is all about solid state. SSDs provide not only by far the fastest performance, they also offer the largest capacities—for a price. Samsung will do you a 30TB 2.5-inch SSD, for instance. Just don’t ask how much it costs. You might prefer to spend the money on a new car.
Despite that, there is one application that remains dominated by old-school magnetic hard drives: storage bang for buck. If you want maximum storage density for the minimum possible price, you’ll need some spinning magnetic platters.
With that in mind, it’s no surprise to find that conventional hard drive technology marches on despite its relegation to a relatively small niche. A little over a year ago, the biggest mainstream hard drives weighed in at 10TB. Now we’re reviewing our first 12TB drive, the Seagate IronWolf.
It’s closely related to the Seagate Barracuda Pro, but further optimized for NAS applications. In other words, if you’ve got a NAS box that’s set for a drive upgrade, the IronWolf would like to offer its services. Indeed, Seagate offers two versions of the IronWolf: vanilla and Pro. This vanilla drive is aimed at connected homes, SOHO, and SMB apps, while the Pro version is for fullon commercial and enterprise users. Both are packed with features and technology. That includes Seagate’s AgileArray tech, which involves dual-plane balancing, RAID optimization, and advanced power management. Then there’s Rotational Vibration (RV) mitigation, including several RV sensors that help maintain performance in multi-drive NAS enclosures that can transmit significant vibrations.
In 12TB trim, the IronWolf sports a total of eight platters, thus 1.5TB per platter. As a consequence, its 3.5-inch chassis is crammed. The usual recesses on the bottom of the drive are nowhere to be seen. Rounding the main feature set out is the 7,200rpm spindle speed and a chunky 256MB of cache, all running through a standard SATA 6Gb/s interface. Overall, this 12TB model is rated at 180TB per year of data traffic, has an MTBF (mean time between failures) of 1 million hours, and a three-year limited warranty.
For context, the IronWolf Pro is optimized for 300TB per year, has an MTBF of 1.2 million hours, and a five-year warranty. In reality, there’s probably little in it in terms of the hardware. The Pro is mainly buying more peace of mind in terms of the longer warranty. Whatever, what we’re looking at is pretty much the state of the art when it comes to mainstream conventional hard drives, and one hell of a lot of storage for a pretty reasonable price.
Granted, a 3TB or 4TB drive may offer marginally more storage per dollar, but the 12TB IronWolf is pretty competitive in that regard, and offers unbeatable data density. You could, for instance, swap out all the 3TB drives from a quad-drive NAS enclosure for just one of these puppies, and then add further drives when budget or requirements dictated.
Anyway, the 12TB IronWolf looks good on paper and offers a pleasing capacity-todollar ratio. But how does it perform? By the standards of a conventional magnetic drive, it’s seriously swift. You’re looking at sequential reads and writes in the 260– 270MB/s region. The 4K random access performance is where magnetic tech really shows its age, compared to solid-state storage. 4K reads of around 1MB/s and writes just under 3MB/s would be utterly catastrophic for an SSD; for this type of drive, they’re very much competitive.
The bottom line is that you’re not going to get anywhere like the performance of even a budget SSD. But that was a given. If you want major storage density at a reasonable price, however, the IronWolf achieves that, and throws in excellent performance for this type of drive. –JEREMY LAIRD
Seagate IronWolf 12TB
GOLDILOCKS Epic storage capacity; awesome feature set; great in-class performance.
BIG, BAD WOLF Not the best for TB/$; blown away by any SSD for performance.
$ 429 www. seagate.com