Performance Testing And Conclusion
We chose three products to compare to the Seagate Innov8 8TB external hard drive. The Seagate Backup Plus 8TB external HDD we recently tested is the most comparable product. We also reached into the archive for the Western Digital MyBook 1TB, which is one of the most popular external drives sold in the US and Europe. Finally, we brought in the ioSafe Rugged Portable armed with a 750GB HDD, which is a product with similar heft.
Sequential Scaling Block Sizes
The two Seagate 8TB external drives deliver nearly identical sequential performance as we sweep along the various block sizes. The older Backup Plus has a dip with 16KB block writes, but Seagate smoothed that out with the newer firmware it uses in the Innov8. The USB 3.1 Innov8 also delivers slightly higher peak performance with large blocks. The two legacy external drives, which represent products you may soon replace, are much slower than the new breed of high-capacity models shipping today.
Full LBA Span Performance
During these tests, we read and write with 128KB block data across the entire user LBA space of the drives. We've all noticed that hard drives lose performance over time as more data populates the platters. The drives will write to the fastest portion of the platters first (the outer tracks). As data fills the drive, it has to write the progressively slower areas of the platters (inner tracks).
The Innov8 reads sequential data back at roughly 170 MB/s at its peak, but that drops to just under 100 MB/s when the platters are full. The data writes peak at 190 MB/s but drop to just 80 MB/s when the drive is nearly full.
With such a large performance increase over many of the other external storage products in this review, you might expect the Innov8 to dominate the real-world file transfer tests. That isn't the case, though. The Seagate Innov8 outperforms the other products with ease during pure sequential data transfers, but small files prove to be problematic.
The game transfer test using the rFactor directory has a mix of large and small block files. It's an excellent mix of data, but more importantly, it's a popular piece of software that has millions of users. The mixed data reduces the performance of the two Seagate 8TB products, and the legacy external hard disk drives surpass both of the newer products.
The backup directory test features real-world data in all sizes. Some examples include PDF, Word, Excel, MP3, JPEGs and MP4 (video files). The wide 15.3GB assortment of data pushes the Seagate Innov8 to the back of the performance pack.
I've never been hard on external storage products as long as they work as advertised. With the Seagate Innov8, there really isn't an advertised performance specification. The product web page doesn't advertise any features other than a single cable design and a tagline that reads: "Boundaries Are Now Off Limits." Honestly, it's hard to determine what that even means.
The Seagate Innov8 (STFG8000400) is expensive at $349.99. We're glad to see Newegg lower the price, but $329.99 is only a small gesture. The Innov8's ST8000AS0002 HDD retails for $249.99 by itself, so you pay a high premium for the external enclosure compared to buying the drive in a cheap plastic enclosure case from a third-party vendor.
Pricing and value are secondary with this product; you are really buying the look and software features rather than the hard drive itself. The Seagate Innov8 looks amazing. It's also somewhat bulky, but in this case, that's a good thing. I wouldn't want to take it with me, but I sure would want to look at it sitting on a desk. Some people have cars in the garage just to look at. The Innov8 has a beautiful enclosure that you can actually use, and it is still very stylish. It's not for everyone; I'll be the first to admit that. I'm not even sure if I would spend $330 to own one just to look at and store data on.
That's where the value-add accessory package closes the gap. Seagate's backup software is excellent, and the overall package is second to none. Users get a number of extra features, like the ability to access the data from on the road and schedule backup operations. If you already own a NAS these features may seem basic, but for a large number of computer users a dedicated NAS is off the table due to cost and complexity. The Seagate Innov8 is a backup solution for those looking for a simple setup, attractive design, and proven reliability.
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