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Nathan Edwards Nov 06, 2012

1TB Western Digital VelociRaptor

At A Glance

VELO

Middleground between SSD speed and HDD capacity/reliability; quick random-access times and fast raw reads and writes.

YELLOW

Awkward middleground between SSD high price and HDD slow speeds.

Western Digital releases a new Raptor drive every couple of years, and each time the performance and capacity increase while the price for the highest-capacity model stays around $300. This year’s iteration finally breaks 1TB, but the VelociRaptor remains caught between increasingly fast 7,200rpm drives and increasingly capacious SSDs. Is it the best of both worlds, or the worst?

Like the previous two generations of VelociRaptor, the WD1000DHTZ is a 2.5-inch drive spinning at 10,000rpm, mounted on an “IcePak” cooler/3.5-inch drive adapter. The latest version has 64MB of cache (up from 32MB) and up to 1TB of storage (up from a maximum of 600GB). Despite its 2.5-inch form factor, it won’t fit in a laptop—the drive is far too thick and power hungry. So far, so unsurprising.

It’s the fastest consumer hard drive on the market, but not by much.

When we ran the newest VelociRaptor through our benchmarks, it shone, with average read speeds of 162MB/s and average writes of 161MB/s—the fastest we’ve ever seen from a consumer-oriented hard drive. Its 7ms random-access times are less than half those of the fastest 7,200rpm drive we’ve tested, and similar to last generation’s VelociRaptor. Its PCMark Vantage and PCMark 7 storage subscores are also faster than any standard 3.5-inch drive we’ve tested. That’s the good news.

The bad news is that the 1TB VelociRaptor is in a tough spot. Seagate’s three-platter 3TB Barracuda has average read and write speeds of over 150MB/s, and it’s half the price of the VelociRaptor for three times the storage (albeit with random access speeds that are twice as slow). On the other hand, $320 will get you a good 256GB SSD, which destroys the VelociRaptor in every metric except capacity—and, WD claims, reliability.

WD isn’t aiming the VelociRaptor at gamers as much as it has in previous generations. Instead, it’s focusing on content creators who need strong sustained write performance—something SSDs still don’t excel at, and where their limited capacities and NAND lifespan concerns are a hindrance.

For those users, and folks who want a simple high-performance, single-drive solution for their desktop, the VelociRaptor makes a lot of sense. For those who don’t need the fast random-access times, a 3TB 7,200rpm drive will work nearly as well, and those who don’t need the capacity or the sustained writes will prefer an SSD. That’s without even considering hybrids, which offer SSD-like “feel” by copying the most frequently accessed data to NAND flash, but only offer their speed-boosting benefits when accessing that data.

Is there still room in the market for the VelociRaptor? WD thinks (and hopes) so. For many users, the VelociRaptor offers a decent compromise between SSDs and 7,200rpm drives—though the price might rankle.

BENCHMARKS

1TB WD VelociRaptor
600GB WD VelociRaptor (2010 model)
3TB Seagate Barracuda (3 platter)750GB Seagate Momentus XT Hybrid256GB Samsung 830 SSD
HDTune


   
  Avg Read (MB/s)
161.9
131.2
155.891.3N/A
  Random-Access Read  
  (ms)
7.2
7.4
14.915.7N/A
  Burst Read (MB/s)
369.7
290.1
325.7346.8N/A
  Avg Write (MB/s)160.5
125.8
150.789.1N/A
  Random-Access Write
  (ms)
7.63.1
14.92.2N/A
  Burst Write (MB/s)348.2211.9
335.5311.1N/A
Premiere Pro Encode (sec)447
449
455480420
PCMark 7 Secondary Storage2,732
2,448
2,1743,2955,257
PCMark Vantage HDD Subscore10,3638,6496,76614,75962,168

Best scores are bolded. All drives tested on our hard drive test bench: a stock-clocked Intel Core i3-2100 CPU on an Asus P8P67 Pro (Rev 3.1) motherboard with 4GB DDR3, running Windows 7 Professional 64-bit. All tests performed using native Intel 6Gb/s SATA chipset with IRST version 10.1 drivers.

THE VERDICT

1TB Western Digital VelociRaptor

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