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I'm looking at a QNAP NAS setup, and in the options for disks they have the very enterprisey Western Digital RE3. I'll be using the box for backing up my laptop, and streaming media either to the laptop or a media device using the built-in media server, possibly both at once.

My question is, would I notice any benefit at all in splashing out for the high-performance drive, or should I stick with something quiet and cool (and cheap) like the Caviar Green?


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up vote 10 down vote accepted

Speed of "green" drives is close to speed of 1Gb Ethernet and in that NAS you can set up RAID, which will double the HDD read speed. So there is absolutely no point in buying fast drives.


The Western Digital drives are designed for 24x7 operation, so in a NAS that is on all the time they would be ideal. Cheaper drives will be just as fast, but will fail more frequently. At work we use the RE3 drives in Poweredge 2950s with a Perc5/i to run Hyper-V, and they work very well, though I'd stick with SAS for the really disk intensive stuff.

On my home server I paid the extra for Western Digital RE3 drives because getting the server down from the loft to replace a failed disk is more pain that the extra cost of buying the RE3 disks.


Why stick with SAS for disk intensive work? – shapr May 28 '09 at 13:16
SAS and SATA disks are basically the same but built to different standards. The biggest difference is the seek time i.e. the average time to jump to a random sector. SAS disks are twice as fast as SATA in seeking, and the seek time is especially important when the disk is doing a lot of random access. In general databases (including Exchange) do a lot of random access so they run a lot faster on SAS than on SATA. SAS disks are more reliable than SATA, but in these days of RAID6 that's less of an issue. – John Rennie May 29 '09 at 7:31

Not for speed purposes. Sure, if the QNAP has a 1 GBit Network, that would be fast enough for hard drives, but as Media Files have a fairly low data rate, I doubt you'll saturate it.

Personally I would pick the Caviar Green (I'm running them in my own Home NAS) for power consumption and temperature reasons (3.7 Watt vs. 7.8 Watt when idle), but the RE3 are specifically meant for 24/7 raid usage, with 1.2 million hours MTBF. I'm not sure how important MTBF really us, especially when you only have 3 or 4 hard drives, but if it really matters, Western Digital also has the RE4-GP.

hey, we picked caviar green too! :)… – Jeff Atwood Jul 11 '10 at 20:42

I would stay with the slow cheap drive. Especially if there is only one drive. Even the economy drives can push over 100MB/sec sequentially which is close to the raw speed of GbE. Once you get into random read territory, mixing reads and write, or fragmentation then your throughput will drop substantially, probably into the realm of 100mbit ethernet or 802.11n.

My advice would be to stick with the slower, cheeper or higher capacity drive.


The new WD Green drives come with 4k sectors (WD have labled it Advanced Format), not sure what would be required by the QNAP OS to take advantage of this technology.


I have the QNAP TS-439 Pro running RAID5 with 1TB Caviar Black drives. I've had no problems so far (~1.25 yrs). Gigabit ethernet and all my computers have gigabit NICs so I get great speed. I consistently get over 60MB/s sustained transfer speed.


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