Seagate Ironwolf NAS 16TB Hard Drive Review

Seagate Ironwolf NAS 16TB Hard Drive Review

Ironwolf NAS HDD

The Seagate Ironwolf NAS Hard Drive product line is optimized for Network Attached Storage (NAS) in 1 to 8 drive bay configurations. Delivering enterprise-class endurance, low power consumption, optimal reliability and system scalability with a staggering 16 Terabytes of data storage.

Seagate IronWolf NAS Hard Drives offer ten storage options to choose from. All being a Terabyte (TB) or greater in capacity, they start off with a modest 1TB, working upward though 2TB, 3TB, 4TB, 6TB, 8TB, 10TB, 12TB, 14TB and finally a massive high-capacity 16TB model — at time of review online pricing this 16TB model was $499.99.

When choosing an IronWolf NAS Hard Drive capacity be sure to view the performance ratings as they do differ across model numbers. Here you'll want to pay special attention to the Max Sustained Transfer Rate (MB/s) and Spindle Speed (RPM). According to the datasheet the key differences seem to be grouped between 16TB~6TB, 6TB, and 4TB~1TB.

In this particular review I benchmark the IronWolf NAS Hard Drive 16TB model (ST16000VN001), a conventional magnetic recording (CMR) drive quoted to deliver Max Sustained Transfer Rate of 210MB/s at 7200 RPM.

Seagate IronWolf NAS Hard Drives are only available with a Serial ATA (SATA 6Gb/s) interface and a 3.5-inch physical form-factor. The average operating power is quoted at a conservative 7.3W and idle power of 5.3W.

Purpose-built specifically for Network Attached Storage (NAS) devices, Seagate IronWolf NAS Hard Drives are optimized for multi-user environments with heavy workloads and high data traffic, offering exclusive technology such AgileArray, IronWolf Health Management (IHM) and Rotational Vibration (RV) sensors.

AgileArray is as a set of hardware, firmware and software features that deliver enhanced NAS performance and reliability — a combination of seven technologies in total. Seagate has published several datasheets which outline AgileArray technology in great detail if you're interested in a deep dive, otherwise I've done a highlight summary on the feature sets below.

IronWolf Health Management (IHM) is embedded software available in select NAS operating systems. IHM monitors over 200 drive parameters that may influence drive health. Notifying users of possible prevention and intervention actions ahead of a fail event, thereby reducing the possibility of catastrophic failure and associated data loss. Not all NAS devices support this feature so check the manufacture website for availability.

Rotational Vibration (RV) sensors are equipped on IronWolf Hard Drive models with a 4TB capacity or greater. These sensors are typically reserved for expensive enterprise class drives to detect, compensate and minimize the impact of vibration  — this is extremely beneficial for a mechanical Hard Disk Drive (HDD).

Another NAS specific consideration is dual-plane balance which helps dampen drive vibrations. By better balancing the drive motor, drive vibration is minimized, making it more reliable in multi-bay enclosures.

While on the topic reliability, I should mention this IronWolf NAS Hard Drive 16TB model is rated at a full 1 million hours mean time between failures (MTBF) and Annualized Workload Rate (AWR) of 180TB/year.


Highlight summary:

  • AgileArray is a set of hardware, firmware, and software features that include:
    • Error Recovery Control: Prevents RAID drop off and speeds up data retries
    • RAID Optimization Firmware: Improves system performance in RAID configuration
    • Advanced AcuTrac Technology: Vibration tolerance for multi-bay environment
    • Dual Plane Balance: Less vibration for quiet operation
    • Rotational Vibration (RV) Sensors: Reduce vibration in the multi-bay enclosure
    • Streaming Support: ATA-8 streaming command set, and firmware optimized to handle large sequential block transfers
    • Advanced Power Management: Lower overall power consumption
  • IronWolf Health Management (IHM)
  • 3 year Limited Warranty


  • Type: 3.5-inch
  • Height: 26.11mm
  • Recording Technology: CMR
  • Serial ATA: Transfer rate 6Gb/s (backwards compatible with 3Gb/s)
  • Mean Time To Failure: 1 million hours


Performance testing was done under Ubuntu 20.04 (Focal Fossa) on a stand-alone drive configuration. I did not benchmark all four drives in RAID configurations as initially planned, mainly due to the time associated with my benchmark script on a single 16TB HDD taking nearly 72 hours to complete just one of three runs. This duration was unexpected so I'll be revisiting RAID benchmarks at a later date once I've had a chance to run these drives in our QNAP and Synology NAS units.

Factors affecting performance include: Capacity of the drive, interface of the host and overall system performance. Your results may vary.

Test System

  • Processor: Eight-Core @ 3.40GHz (8 Cores / 16 Threads)
  • Memory: 64512MB (64GB DDR4)
  • OS: Ubuntu 20.04
  • Kernel: 5.4.0-40-generic
  • Interface: SATA 6.0 Gb/s

Sequential Reads compared to Random Reads with Identical Block Sizes

Sequential Writes compared to Random Writes with Identical Block Sizes

4K Random Read Performance with Varying Queue Depths

4K Random Write Performance with Varying Queue Depth

Timings of device Reads

This measurement is an indication of how fast the drive can sustain sequential data reads under Linux, without any filesystem overhead. Timing buffered disk reads: 750 MB in  3.01 seconds = 249.38 MB/sec.


Seagate Ironwolf NAS 16TB Hard Drive Review
Seagate Ironwolf NAS 16TB Hard Drive Review
Seagate Ironwolf NAS 16TB Hard Drive Review
Seagate Ironwolf NAS 16TB Hard Drive Review


The Good - Pros
  • Huge 16TB capacity at 7200 RPM
  • Purpose built and optimized for NAS devices with RAID up to 8 bays
  • AgileArray offers another layer of increased reliability
  • Rotational Vibration (RV) sensors are present
  • Considering technology & capacity it's very competitively priced
  • Features dual-plane balance
  • Relatively quiet while in operation
  • 3-year limited warranty

The Bad - Cons
  • IHM is device dependent so your NAS may or may not support it

The Ugly - Issues
  • N/A

The Verdict - Opinion

Choosing the right Hard Disk Drives (HDD) for your NAS is just as important as selecting the device itself. Unlike conventional Desktop HDDs which tend to be the less expensive option, NAS optimized HDDs such as the Seagate Ironwolf Series hold a better value by offering higher tolerances for data integrity and protection with the mindset of larger storage capacity and reliability is more important than drive speed.

So whether you're deploying a small 2-bay NAS for personal use or fully populating an 8-bay SOHO NAS, the Seagate Ironwolf NAS 16TB Hard Drive offers well balanced performance, reliability, warranty and of course ultra-high capacity.


Linux Compatibility:
Cost & Value: