WD Red Pro vs WD Gold

Should you use WD Gold or WD Red Pro Drives in your NAS?

When choosing the right NAS server, one of the most important decisions you will make is the kind of hard drive media that you want to install. Different NAS server devices from Synology to QNAP will have different CPU and Memory options, however, the hard disks that you choose to install inside will have a massive impact on both the performance speeds of your NAS, as well as your long-term stability and support. More and more users are turning towards enterprise-class and more ruggedly designed NAS drives in order to ensure their data is both fast and stable and of all the companies out there supplying drives, Western Digital (WD) are one of the best in providing high-quality drives. Despite enterprise drives such as WD Gold and WD Red Pro being designed with much larger RAID arrays in mind, even 2-Bay NAS buyers are starting to install these high-end drives in their devices, thanks to a myriad of hardware and support advantages.

Why Choose WD Gold and WD Red Pro over regular Hard Drives in your NAS?

Back when hard drives were first being produced, petty much all hard disks were identical in design. The technology was not hugely developed and the priority over all things was capacity. However, later on, this gave way to a more balanced opinion of leveraging capacity versus stability and that was when we started seeing more tailored drives being produced such as the WD Green that was designed for low energy situations or the WD Black that was designed for much more rugged, heavy use. It stands to reason that when you have data being created in almost all industries and environments around the world, that different hard drives for different needs would have to be produced, i.e. there are many, many kinds of spoons – but you wouldn’t use a ladle to stir your tea!

This rule is made especially important with NAS servers. NAS devices can be in operation for weeks and/or months at a time, have very sporadic read and write actions and generally involve RAID (redundant array of independent disks) which means a higher degree of stability whilst multiple disks are accessed at the same time is essential. Regular NAS hard drives such as WD Red and Seagate Ironwolf as excellent for this, but even they have a few shortfalls if you are a business user, intend to access your data much more regularly or want a much more comprehensive solution. Below are the difference between NAS hard drives and WD Red Pro and WD Gold.

WD Red Pro

& WD Gold

WD Red
Ideal number of NAS Bays Up to 16 bay NAS 1-8 bay NAS Upto 8 HDD, WD Red will be Stable
Capacity available 2TB – 12TB 1GB – 10TB Smaller Capacities are available in WD Red
Price Around £33-35

per Terabyte

Around £25-28

per Terabyte

WD Red is lower in price
Cache Up to 128 MB 16 MB and 64 MB More Cache in PRO, combined with higher RPM means much higher Read and Write


5400-7200RPM PRO is faster, while WD Red is a fixed point that is lower
Acoustics (dBA)Idle

Seek (average)

2936 2528 PRO Class drives are noisier
Warranty 5-year 3-year Longer coverage for replacement and/or repair with a PRO class drive

Advantages of WD Red Pro and WD Gold

  • Longer Warranty
  • Higher Read and Write speeds (around 200MB/s, whilst regular WD Red is around 90-100MB/s)
  • Better for larger RAID arrays of 8 or more drives

Advantages of WD Red

  • Quieter whilst in use
  • Lower Price per Terabyte
  • Smaller Capacities are available

WD Red Pro versus WD Gold – Which is Best?

As the chart above shows, Pro class drives such as the WD Red Pro and the WD Gold have most of their advantages in stability, long-term coverage and speed. This isn’t a huge surprise and with capacities getting bigger (WD Gold and WD Red Pro in 12TB) the option of a small yet powerful 2-Bay NAS and two PRO class drives is very appealing (for small business), as the price will only be around £10 extra per terabyte of hard drive. But should you buy WD Gold (designed for data centers) or WD Red Pro (designed for NAS)

The simple truth is that these two drives are just too similar for their construction and quality to separate them. What little difference (the MTBF seems better on the WD Gold, the max operational time is the tiniest bit higher on the WD Red Pro as they use less power) can be overlooked as the test environment and intended usage situation of both is different. At a pinch I would recommend the WD Gold, as they are identical in price and the support and warranty service overall will be quicker for an RMA on a WD Gold drive, as these are considered enterprise – sadly even WD would have to admit they a business user will always prioritize over a home user. But apart from that, your choice can always come down to traditional factors such as price and capacity. It is certainly worth highlighting that the newest and biggest capacities always arrive in the WD Gold range first.

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    One thought on “WD Red Pro vs WD Gold

    1. Two reasons I choose WD Gold over WD Red Pro. (1) WD Gold runs about 10 deg F cooler – may lead to longer drive life. This is from having them in the same enclosure for months before I fully switched over to Golds. (2) In a RAID5 array, which is probably the most common config for home NASs, the time when the array is most stressed is when the array is rebuilding, either due to adding/swapping a drive for a failure or upgrade. WD Golds are designed to be continuously hammered in a datacenter environment so the stress from rebuilding is essentially the standard design parameter for this drive.

      (A Labo)

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