Filling up your NAS enclosure with capable hard disk (HDDs) or solid-state (SSD) drives is the only way you're going to store your stuff for streaming and providing access to others. To really appreciate the best NAS for home, you'll need some speedy storage. We've collected the best hard drives for the QNAP TS431-X3.
IronWolf is Seagate's main series of hard drives specifically designed for use inside a NAS enclosure. Rivaling the Western Digital series and sporting similar technologies, these drives offer enhanced performance and reliability over desktop-class drives. You'll be able to run these continuously with no issue. Unfortunately, only up to eight of them can be installed inside a single enclosure.
Similar in many ways to Seagate's IronWolf series of drives, Western Digital offers its own set of mechanical NAS storage solutions. Likewise, up to eight of these hard drives can be installed in a single NAS. WD drives are among the best in the business, rocking similar endurance and reliability features to help make them last. They're just a little slower than Seagate's offerings.
Part of Western Digital, HGST offers similar reliability and customer support as its parent company. What you will get with these more pricey drives is better performance. There are also a few handy features unique to this series of NAS drives like vibration protection. They're rated for a million hours mean time between failures (MTBF) too
Should you need to install more than eight drivesThe Pro version of Seagate's IronWolf family of drives is for those who need to install more than eight drives inside a NAS enclosure. They have 7,200 RPM motors for slightly improved performance and there's an increased 300TB per year workload limit. Compared to standard IronWolf drives, they're a little pricey, but do support up to a 24-bay NAS.
Like Seagate, Western Digital also has a Pro version of its Red NAS drive series. These are also more capable of better performance and come rocking enhanced features for improved reliability. It's also possible to install up to 24 of them into a single NAS enclosure, should you need the highest capacity possible.
A solid-state drive (SSD) isn't usually recommended for NAS use since the capacities just don't match what's available with HDDs and the cost of an SSD is vastly more. This means you'll be paying out more per GB than you would a HDD. But if you need faster transfer speeds and don't mind being limited with how much you can store, the Seagate IronWolf SSD range is excellent. They use less power and are quieter than mechanical drives.
The Red SSD series from Western Digital is just like the Seagate IronWolf SSD range. These are faster than normal Red (and Red Pro) HDDs, while using less power and producing less noise. They're considerably more expensive, however, so you'll need to weigh up whether or not you truly need the improved performance.
What should you look for?
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When hunting around for the best hard drives for the QNAP TS431-X3, you'll want to choose an HDD specifically designed for NAS use. Don't go and use that hard drive from your desktop PC. It won't fare as well when used continuously. Both Western Digital and Seagate offer families of drives that meet this requirement, providing the best drives for continuous operation. You get to enjoy low prices, loads of storage space, and fairly rapid transfer rates for spinning metal plates. Just bear in mind that you'll want a 7,200RPM motor and 64MB of cache.
We've used the Seagate IronWolf for years without fault and find the drives to be well priced. The same can be said about the Western Digital Red, which are almost identical to Seagate counterparts. If you want to expand on your NAS storage, you'll want to aim big with the more pricey Seagate IronWolf Pro and Western Digital Red Pro.
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Rich Edmonds was formerly a Senior Editor of PC hardware at Windows Central, covering everything related to PC components and NAS. He's been involved in technology for more than a decade and knows a thing or two about the magic inside a PC chassis. You can follow him on Twitter at @RichEdmonds.