“I told myself I wouldn’t go back to traditional hard drives.” It’s a statement often exclaimed when building a desktop from the ground up or improving your current rig, as solid-state drives become the modern household norm. In response, HDDs have been adopted into NAS (network attached storage) solutions for their proven cost, capacity, and design.
Characteristics such as these puts HGST in a unique situation with their Deskstar Internal Hard Drive, a storage drive that’s figuratively dressed down for consumers. For reference, this review will focus on the 4TB 7200RPM model (7K4000/HDS724040ALE640), but there are also lower capacities (2TB, 3TB), industry NAS, and more efficient “Coolspin” versions which require less power and are quieter overall.
HGST has a reputation on making hard drives without compromise. When you think about it, the revelation isn’t too astonishing since this company’s origins began from a billion-dollar marriage between IT giants IBM and Hitachi – and the venture recently acquired by Western Digital.
It goes without saying that this is your standard looking 3.5” hard drive with a magnetic head and five lower density 800GB rotating platters. There are other external features such as manufacturing information on the usual protective metallic plate, and around back, a turquoise printed circuit board that connects between its SATA 6Gb/s interface and mechanical bits. Nothing more, and certainly nothing less.
The Deskstar comes suitably equipped with a LSI TNNHV77220 drive controller and a Samsung K4T51163QJ 64MB DDR2 IC for data caching, electronic components typically found in other commercial disk drives. For one reason or another, HGST doesn’t divulge some of the features that includes vibration (or G-shock) safeguard and specifically, SMART Command Transport with advanced drive management. For those interested, this is an extension of the regular SMART protocol for stream and configurable commands from host; this is beneficial for quicker recovery phases and plays nicer with RAID controllers in minimizing false response errors.
Admittedly, most consumers won’t take note of these things, unless their needs involve intermediate SOHO (small office/home office) NAS setups. As a result, the Deskstar is uncommonly versatile and overqualified for almost any job, especially it’s just for personal use alone.
For general benchmarking I first used HD Tune Pro 5.50 and scored a very consistent average of 133.0 MB/s with access time 15.7ms, decent read speeds but great random access time that’s right where it should be for probable figures.
SiSoftware Sandra 2015 produced marginally different results with the Deskstar sitting squarely in the middle (131 MB/s) between comparably priced alternatives from Western Digital (WD4003FAEX 4TB) and Seagate (ST4000VN000 4TB), with figures of 91.02 MB/s and 158.59 MB/s. The access time of 14.71ms was better but also a more than a full millisecond behind the competition.
In the real world though, HGST provides an awesome all-around choice when kept to file backup and HTPC duties. With a SanDisk Ultra Plus 256GB SSD acting as the primary and Window 8.1 being my OS of choice, the Deskstar was quick to act and never left me waiting thanks to a very rapid idle wake period. However for all the performance of five platters and a 7200RPM speed, the drive itself is noticeably power hungry and makes things pretty audible when in use; it’s relatively efficient by normal HDD standards but even with HiVERT technology enabled you’ll have to accept the system or server working a little harder to accommodate, and a slight humming sound coming from your fan.
Only the captious would point out that the HGST Deskstar 4TB HDD is basically enterprise-grade storage — simply their NAS module with identical hardware and firmware. But with that knowledge, can anybody really find fault with something intended for upper-tier performance and strong reliability, merely packaged for consumers? I’m certainly not complaining since this is another Editors’ Choice pick, and definitely worth the investment for serious long-term endurance from a sizable hard drive.