Crossing Velociraptors

TheMurph

You've seen the benchmarks. Everyone's been cooing about Western Digital's Velociraptor drive-- us included --since the moment the early versions of the drives started hitting reviewers' doors. Some sites reviewed early versions of the drive as-is, others noted that these models were engineering samples. In practice, I think the latter is the best route, and that's just what Maximum PC did. Especially since Western Digital promised speed improvements in upwards of ten percent once they finished tweaking the drive's firmware for its final iteration.

Now that the fateful day has come, I've been curious to see just how much extra juice they could pull out of this speedy little monster. Here's a look at the before-and-after:

BENCHMARKS
WD Velociraptor (old) WD Velociraptor (new) Percent change
HDTach Burst (MB/s) 255.1 249.7 -2.11%
HDTach Random Access (ms) 7.1 7.1 0.00%
HDTach Average Read (MB/s) 104.6 108.4 3.63%
HDTach Average Write (MB/s) 96.7 100 3.41%
PCMark05 Overall 9457 9450 -0.07%
All HDTach scores use HDTach 3.0.1.0. Best scores are bolded.

What do these numbers tell us? Western Digital's tweaked the performance of the drive, obviously. But the faster read and write speeds are nothing to write home about. Remember, HDTach is more a diagnostics tool than anything else. It's great for determining potential problems for your drives, but its access patterns don't replicate the real-world experience you would encounter. For that, we turn to PCMark05. And as you can see, the performance difference is negligible--probably even within an acceptable random variance were we to run the benchmark ten separate times.

I'm still going to review finished hardware. It's the Maximum PC way. And the Velociraptor is still the fastest consumer-grade hard drive one can buy. But its performance -- while mildly different in a synthetic benchmark -- isn't as "tweaked" as we expected given Western Digital's claims.

Check out the full review of Western Digital's Velociraptor drive!

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