When Western Digital introduced its latest WD Red Pro hard drives featuring 16TB and 18TB capacities earlier this week, the company said that the products would be available sometimes in October.
As it now turns out, the HDDs for 24-bay enterprise-grade NAS are already available at Amazon, but they are rebadged and come under a little-known brand. Good news is that they cost less than $500.
Western Digital’s WD Red Pro 16TB and 18TB HDDs are based on the same 6th Generation HelioSeal platform that is used for the company’s latest Ultrastar HC550 and WD Gold drives.
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These platform features Western Digital’s energy-assisted magnetic recording (EAMR) technology (a type of conventional magnetic recording (CMR) technology that ensures predictable read and write speeds), nine platters, and triple-stage actuators (TSA).
The new hard drives are equipped with a dual-attached 7200-RPM motor, a 512 MB cache buffer, and feature a SATA 6 Gbps interface. From performance point of view, the 18TB part is said to offer an up to 272 MB/s host to drive transfer rate, whereas the 16TB model is slightly slower at 259MB/s.
A cheap 18TB HDD?
Like other hard drives for enterprise-grade NAS with up to 24 bays, the new WD Red Pro HDDs are designed for 24/7 operation and feature similar reliability technologies found in enterprise-grade nearline drives to provide steady performance in highly-vibrating environments. Meanwhile, the drives come with special firmware optimizations for enterprise-grade NAS RAID environments designed for automatic error recovery, quicker RAID array rebuilds and expansions, and lower noise levels.
Officially, the WD Red Pro 18TB is set to hit the market in October, but the product is already available at Amazon. Officially, the drives come from a company called Water Panther and do not carry any Western Digital’s logotypes or brands. Meanwhile, the mention of the triple-stage actuator technology along with a 512MB buffer clearly point to Western Digital, which happens to be the only company that offers such a combination of features.
The most interesting part is that the Water Panther NAS HDD 18TB is priced at $479.99 (~$27 per TB), which is not only considerably lower than the price of other 18TB hard drives, but is also below MSRPs of some advanced 16TB models.
Water Panther specializes on selling storage devices compatible with servers by makers like Dell and HPE. Typically, such drives are made by various producers like Seagate, Toshiba, or Western Digital, and then equipped with an optimized firmware. But in case of NAS HDDs, there is hardly any tangible difference between Water Panther’s and original versions.