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Best Enterprise Hard Drives

Best Enterprise Hard Drives

Enterprise HDD's, spurred by SSD foes, are undergoing the most rapid pace of innovation in decades. SMR, helium, media cache and SSHDs blur the lines in an increasingly segmented product stack. The focus appears to be shifting to SSDs for the upper echelons of high performance workloads. However, 10K and 15K HDDs still have a place in the performance tier, along with the less-traditional SSHD offerings. New technologies are also rapidly emerging to tailor each drive to unique workloads. Choosing the right performance HDD always boils down to capacity, performance and power consumption metrics - but not always in that order.

Bulk data and archival workloads require pedestrian performance but copious capacity. Power consumption and capacity are often the key focus in these segments and performance falls into a distant third place, while the ultra-competitive nearline segment requires a plentiful helping of all three metrics. We provide detailed power consumption and efficiency metrics in a variety of workloads to help characterize long-term OpEX, and also provide the requisite performance metrics to guide your purchasing decisions.

Different applications prize different attributes, and we provide analysis of the key technological features of each drive and reveal its best use-cases. We test enterprise storage products in our independent lab to cut through the marketing fuzz and provide clear, concise and actionable metrics that focus on the key characteristics of each storage device.


The HDD market continues to segment in several directions. The performance segment witnessed SSHD's going mainstream as Seagate rolled its innovative hybrids, which merge the speed of flash with the capacity of disk, into its standard product line under the TurboBoost branding. However, Seagate continues to be the only company offering enterprise SSHD's. HGST is taking a different approach to boosting performance by utilizing its innovative new media cache technology. This approach allows HGST products to use the DRAM as a persistent cache, which rocketed the latest high-performance HGST products to the top of the charts. WD and Toshiba both remain silent in this segment over the last few months.

HGST is also utilizing its media cache technology in its high-density offerings, but pairs it with the inherent advantages of helium technology. The resultant Ultrastar He8 blazes a new trail for nearline HDD performance while posting the best power consumption and efficiency metrics across the board. HGST enjoys the capacity leadership role in the nearline segment as Seagate prepares its new 8TB offerings in the coming month. Seagate also infused its new models with a caching mechanism that, while it differs architecturally, offers many of the same benefits. The renewed battle is headed to our pages soon, but for now HGST has a clear lead in the nearline segment.

Seagate led the industry by offering the first SMR (Shingled Magnetic Recording) HDD on the market. SMR overlays traps to increase density, but has performance drawbacks that require architectural adjustments to extract the maximum savings and performance. However, $0.03 per GB sets a new benchmark for HDD cost. We expect more movement in this segment shortly -- the other vendors also have SMR HDDs headed to market in the near future.

The battle is intensifying as more diversified products that are specifically tailored for each use-case emerge. Here are our current recommendations.

Our Best Picks

MORE: How We Test Enterprise HDDs

About Our Recommendations

  • We only recommend HDDs we've actually evaluated.
  • The list is based on U.S. prices from online retailers. In other countries or at retail stores, your mileage will vary.
  • These are new HDD prices. No OEM, bulk pricing, used or open-box offers are in the list.
  • Our picks should be valid throughout the month of publication.
  • Prices and availability change on a daily basis, but the embedded green links provide real-time pricing.

Best Nearline Enterprise HDD

Best Archive Enterprise HDD

MORE: SMR (Shingled Magnetic Recording) 101

Best 10K Enterprise HDD

Best 15K Enterprise HDD

MORE: Best Enterprise SSDs
MORE: All Enterprise Storage Content

Paul Alcorn is a Contributing Editor for Tom's IT Pro, covering Storage. Follow him on Twitter and on Google+.

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