by Adam Armstrong

Seagate SkyHawk Surveillance HDD (10TB) Review

Seagate has been supplying customers will surveillance drives for 10 years now. As part of their newly announced Guardian Series, Seagate release a new surveillance drive, SkyHawk. The SkyHawk (named after a beast like the other Guardian Series) comes in capacity from 1TB up to 10TB. The drive has been optimized for either DVRs or NVRs and can support up to 64 HD cameras.

Surveillance is increasing at the same time companies are adding higher definition and more cameras. These HD cameras will generate even more data that needs to be stored and potentially stored for a longer period of time, epsecially in some regulated industries and government use cases. Seagate’s SkyHawk, with 10TB of capacity, are tuned for 24x7 workloads making them an attractive choice for customers looking for high capacity surveillance drives. The drives come with Seagate’s ImagePerfect firmware, which is designed to minimize dropped frames and downtime.

As we have covered in our Pick The Right Drive For The Job, not all drives are created equal. While that piece looked at NAS drives versus desktop, surveillance drives are also made to be duty specific. The SkyHawk drives are designed to run all the time with the specifc workload of 90% of the time taking in streams (writes), the remaining 10% dedicated to playback (reads). The SkyHawk drives are quoted as having three times the workload rating of desktop drives, further enhancing their positioning for this market.

The Seagate SkyHawk comes with a 3-year limited warranty and has a street price of $410 for the 10TB.

Seagate SkyHawk Surveillance HDD specifications:

  • Capacity: 1TB, 2TB, 3TB, 4TB, 6TB, 8TB, 10TB
  • Interface: SATA 6Gb/s
  • Drive bays supported: Up to 8
  • Cameras supported: Up to 64
  • Max Sustained Transfer Rate OD: Up to 210MB/s
  • Cache: 256MB for the 10, 8, and 6TB | 64MB for the 4, 3, 2, and 1TB
  • Reliability
    • Tarnish Resistant: 10, 8, 6, and 4TB
    • Load/Unload cycles: 300K (not for 1TB)
    • Nonrecoverable Read Errors Rate, Max: 1 per 10E15 for 10, 8, and 6TB | 10E14 for 4, 3, 2, and 1TB
    • Power-On Hours per year: 8760
    • Workload Rate Limit: 180
    • MTBF: 1 million hours
    • Warranty: 3-year limited
  • Power (10TB)
    • Typical: 1.8A
    • Average: 6.8W
    • Idle: 4.42W
    • Standby Mode/Sleep Mode: 0.8W
    • Voltage Tolerance (5V): ±5%
    • Voltage Tolerance (12V): ±10%
  • Temperature
    • Operating Min: 5°C
    • Operating Max: 70°C
    • Non-operating: -40°C
  • Dimensions
    • Height: 26.11mm (1.028 in)
    • Width: 101.85mm (4.01 in)
    • Depth: 146.99mm (5.787 in)
    • Weight: 650g (1.433 lb) -10TB

Enterprise Synthetic Workload Analysis

Our enterprise hard drive benchmark process preconditions each drive into steady-state with the same workload the device will be tested with under a heavy load of 16 threads with an outstanding queue of 16 per thread, and then tested in set intervals in multiple thread/queue depth profiles to show performance under light and heavy usage. Since hard drives reach their rated performance level very quickly, we only graph out the main sections of each test.

  • Preconditioning and Primary Steady-State Tests:
  • Throughput (Read+Write IOPS Aggregate)
  • Average Latency (Read+Write Latency Averaged Together)
  • Max Latency (Peak Read or Write Latency)
  • Latency Standard Deviation (Read+Write Standard Deviation Averaged Together)

Our Enterprise Synthetic Workload Analysis includes four profiles based on real-world tasks. These profiles have been developed to make it easier to compare to our past benchmarks as well as widely-published values such as max 4k read and write speed and 8k 70/30, which is commonly used for enterprise drives.

  • 4k
    • 100% Read or 100% Write
    • 100% 4k
  • 8k 70/30
    • 100% 8k
  • 128k (Sequential)
    • 100% Read or 100% Write
    • 100% 128k

In the following section of this review, we will show the performance of both iSCSI and CIFS configurations of the Seagate SkyHawk 10TB. Seagate supplied StorageReview with eight samples of their new HDDs, which we configured in RAID10 in a Synology DiskStation DS1815+.

We will be including the following drives as comparables in the same DS1815+ configuration:

  • WD Purple 4TB
  • Seagate Surveillance 4TB

Looking at throughout in our first test measuring 4K random performance (CIFS), the Seagate SkyHawk gave the best throughput performance with 2,261 IOPS write and 648 IOPS read. The SkyHawk had almost twice the performance of the next closest drive in write and 20% more performance in read. With our iSCSI block-level test, the SkyHawk once again had the best performance with 1,937 IOPS write and 3,483 IOPS read. Once again the drive blew the others away.

When looking at average latency benchmark (CIFS) 16 Thread 16 Queue 100% read and write, the SkyHawk once again had the best performance in CIFS with average write latency of 113.16ms and average read latency of 395.11ms. iSCSI average latency was better overall and the SkyHawk took the top spot with 132.08ms write and 73.49 read latency.

With max latency the SkyHawk in CIFS configuration was the overall top performer with latencies of 1,063.6ms write and 2,440.6ms read. Looking at the iSCSI configuration the SkyHawk came in second overall behind the CIFS configuration beating out the other drives quite a bit with 2,578.6ms read and 1,472.4ms write.

Looking at standard deviation, the SkyHawk gave latency scores of 544.59ms read and 101.82ms write, the best in CIFS configuration and the lowest (best) write score overall. In iSCSI the SkyHawk remained on top with 118.13ms read and 145.05ms write.

The next test tests the drives under 100% read/write activity, this time at 8K sequential throughput. In CIFS configuration the SkyHawk took the top spot with 57,121 IOPS read and 46,070 IOPS write. Looking at the iSCSI configuration, we see the SkyHawk slip off its perch for the first time. The drive took second with 12,859 IOPS read and 17,362 IOPS write.

Our last test looks at large-block sequential performance. In CIFS configuration the SkyHawk took the top spot in write speed with 441MB/s however it came in "last" for read with 462.49MB/s (it should be noted that it was only 57KB/s behind the top performer making them more or less equal across the board). In an iSCSI configuration the drive fell to second with 416MB/s read and 365MB/s.


The Seagate SkyHawk is a HDD designed specifically for surveillance with firmware that helps to minimize dropped frames and downtime. The drive comes in multiple capacity from a small as 1TB up to a huge 10TB (currently the highest capacity surveillance drive on the market). Not only is the drive quoted as being able to handle three times the workload of a desktop drive, it is also optimized explicitly for NVRs and DVRs.

Looking at performance, the SkyHawk flew high in our 4k benchmarks taking the top spot in both CIFS and iSCSI configurations across the board. In throughput we saw scores as high as 3,483 IOPS read and 2,261 IOPS write. The SkyHawk gave us average latencies as low as 73.49ms read and 113.16ms write. In our 8k sequential benchmark the SkyHawk had a throughput of 57,121 IOPS read and 46,070 IOPS write in CIFS making it the top performer. In our large block sequential the SkyHawk had its feathers ruffled a bit by the other drives as it fell to the bottom in read speeds (still keeping roughly in line with the others though) in read with 462.49MB/s in CIFS. The SkyHawk came out in front of the pack in write with 441MB/s also in CIFS. In iSCSI the SkyHawk came in second, but offered much greater performance than the prior-generation Seagate offering.


  • Highest capacity surveillance drive currently shipping
  • Strongest sequential write performance, large bump in iSCSI performance over prior generation
  • Designed to work with most surveillance equipment


  • Falls behind WD Purple in iSCSI sequential transfers

The Bottom Line

The Seagate SkyHawk is a drive designed to work specifically in surveillance; the drive has a massive 10TB capacity and great performance for this targeted use case.

Seagate SkyHawk on Amazon

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