Seagate IronWolf and IronWolf Pro Hard Drives Review

  March 24, 2020

Seagate IronWolf and IronWolf Pro Hard Drives Review

In your everyday laptop and desktops, the BarraCuda range are Seagates drives of choice, coming in every shape and capacity that you could wish for inside a reliable machine. If you’re looking for something a little faster, a little snappier and a little more game-oriented, then Seagate’s FireCuda range is exactly what you need. They’re blisteringly fast and come in a similar range of options.

But what if you’re looking for something more… long-term? What if you need something with oodles of storage space and the reliability to keep it there securely?

In comes Seagate’s IronWolf range of drives and, like the name suggests, they’re focussed on rock-steady performance, reliability and maximum storage space.

Promotional banner image for the Seagate IronWolf HDDs that shows an iron wolf with glowing red eyes

What is IronWolf?

The IronWolf range is Seagate’s professional range of drives. The range is focussed on businesses and prosumers who need serious capacity and reliability in their storage solutions. Seagate’s focus for these drives is on Network Attached Storage (NAS), but they’re equally relevant to users who want serious reliability from their in-system storage and RAID arrays. 

Going Pro, IronWolf Pro

If the IronWolf range of drives isn’t quite serious enough for you, there’s always the IronWolf Pro range of drives to add on top. The Pro line-up of drives are Seagate’s top-of-the-range NAS Storage drives. They take everything great about the IronWolf drives and dial it up to 11.

The Pro drives are going to give you greater reliability, faster speeds, and longer life. More on that and how they compare, coming up.

Options Available

Unlike Seagate’s BarraCuda and FireCuda range, the IronWolf range is limited to just 3.5 inch Hard Disk Storage. Not a negative in our book, let’s be honest here, if you’re looking for a different form-factor, you’re not using these drives for their optimal and intended use.

The IronWolf range of drives comes in a staggering number of storage options, starting at just 1TB (The Pro range starts at 2TB) and goes all the up to 16TB per drive. 16 TB, 14 TB, 12 TB, 10 TB, 8 TB, 6 TB, 4 TB and 2 TB.

Having such a range of storage size options is nice to see. When choosing drives for your NAS, the price between 8x 4TB drives and 8x 8TB is huge, having storage options in-between to finesse your NAS to your own price range and needs is a nice bonus and something we like to see. 

Image of the front of a 16TB Seagate IronWolf HDD


We’re taking a look at the 4TB IronWolf Pro for this next section, a common capacity and a good reflection for a lot of our customers.

Comparing the 4TB IronWolf Pro with its non-professional brother highlights a number of benefits in the Pro model. Here are the headline specs and comparison:

  4TB IronWolf 4TB IronWolf Pro
Spindle Speed 5,900rpm 7,000rpm
Max Sustained Transfer Rate OD 180MB/s 220MB/s
Cache 64MB 128MB                
Mean Time Between Failures 1,000,000 Hours 1,200,000 Hours
Limited Warranty 3 Years 5 Years
Drive Bays Supported Up to 8 Up to 24

Whilst both the IronWolf and the IronWolf Pro drives feature exceptional performance in class, the Pro definitely offers some serious benefits for the high-end user looking for some serious reliability.

At this capacity, the Pro drive offers an additional 40MB/s transfer speeds (up to 220MB/s in the Ironwolf Pro compared to 180MB/s in the Ironwolf) and double the Cache. The Pro variant also boasts an average 200,000 hours additional life over the standard IronWolf. In terms of real-world benefits, this equals faster access to your work files, faster back-up times (and therefore more frequent) and most importantly, a 20% longer average lifespan. Seagate’s putting its money where its mouth is too, with an extended five-year limited warranty, compared to the regular three-year limited warranty. 

All great in theory, but how does it stack up in actual testing?


For our testing, we used CrystalDiskMark like we do with all of our disk testing. We ran our IronWolf 4TB Pro through a range of tests and compared it to other drives of similar classes to see how it performed.

  SEQ1M Q8T1   SEQ1M Q1T1   RND4K Q32T16   RND4K Q1T1  
 (Test Results in MB/s) Read Write Read Write Read Write Read Write
Seagate IronWolf Pro 4TB 226 223 225 224 3 3.1 0.8 3.4
Seagate BarraCuda 4TB 195 188 196 192 1.8 1.6 0.6 1.5
WD Gold 4TB 214 164 214 156 2.8 1.9 2 2.3

The Seagate Drive not only performs as or better than advertised, but it’s performance far exceeds that of its sister drives and other competitors in its space.

In our initial test of Sequentially read/writing data with a Queue of 8 and 1 thread, the drive performed an excellent 226MB/s Read and 223MB/s Write, exactly as advertised and faster than any other drive in our tests. As always, the RDN4K tests slowed the drive down massively, but compared to the other drives, it still came out on top in the majority of cases.

The Perfect Pairing

The IronWolf range of drives, especially the Pro, are a sturdy range to choose from for any serious storage needs. They’re better performing than the majority of the competition, longer-lasting and very price competitive. Their long life and performance makes them an ideal choice for incremental NAS Increases as your storage demands require. However, as a in-system drive for professional use, (as with all Hard Drives in 2020), you can’t rely on this alone. A faster drive is required for your operating system and software to run from.

The perfect combination for drives like this is with an ultra-fast NVME storage drive. These drives can be literally 20x faster, but they lack the raw storage and longevity that the IronWolf Pro drives have.

As mentioned at the start of the article, you could pair your IronWolf Pro drives with one of Seagate’s own M.2 NVME drives in our Desktop PC Configurator. Choose from our wide range of parts and build the perfect PC for your needs.

More resources:

Check out this article for a more in-depth look at Seagate BarraCuda and FireCuda NVMe SSDs!

Why not check out this article that offers a comprehensive look at Seagate’s 2.5″ BarraCuda SSDs!

Want something different? Check out this review of the Corsair MP510 M.2 SSD!


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