First Look: 6Gb/s SATA Western Digital Velociraptor 600GB Benchmarked!

Nathan Edwards

This morning, Western Digital officially announced (and started shipping) the next generation of its VelociRaptor hard drives, and we’ve got tasty benchmark numbers for you.


The new VelociRaptor with its top off.

The new Velociraptors are SATA 6Gb/s-enabled and come in 450GB and 600GB flavors (a 300GB bump from the previous-gen’s 150GB and 300GB). Like their predecessors, the Velociraptors spin at 10,000rpm and desktop versions are mounted on IcePack heatsinks that let them fit in standard 3.5-inch SATA hard drive bays. IcePack-less 2.5-inch models are available for enterprise servers, but at 15mm high , they won’t fit in your laptop.

The much-needed refresh bumps the Velociraptor line back into the enthusiast market, where solid-state drives and super-speedy terabyte drives have nibbled away at their market share. Enough yammering outta us, though; let’s go to the benchmarks!

Since the new Velociraptor has a 6Gb/s SATA controller, we tested it on a Asus P6X58D Premium board, which has an onboard Marvell SATA 6Gb/s controller as well as Intel’s standard ICH10R southbridge. The CPU is a 3.33GHz Core i7-X980, and we used 6GB DDR3/1333. All tests were done in Windows 7 Professional 64-bit. We used HDTune 4.01, Premiere Pro CS3, and PCMark Vantage x64.

We’re please to report the new Velociraptor is fully 30 percent faster than the previous-gen version, with sustained average write speeds hovering over 130MB/s. Once again the Velociraptor is the fastest mechanical hard drive readily available. Random-access seek times are around 7.1ms—about the same as the previous-gen Velociraptor.

Is it any faster on a 6Gb/s SATA controller? A little. Maximum write speeds for the 600GB Velociraptor were slightly higher on 6Gb/s SATA, while the greatest gains were in burst speed. On the 6Gb/s controller, read and write bursts shot up from around 200MB/s to 270MB/s, and Premiere Pro CS3 and PCMark Vantage scores were slightly better as well. Beyond that, most scores were similar.

With 7200rpm terabyte drives offering read and write speeds greater than 100MB/s for under $100, and SSDs offering 200MB/s reads and writes and much faster random-access times—though at a massive price per gigabyte— is the VelociRaptor as essential for the enthusiast as it once was?

It depends what works for you. The VelociRaptor is the best single-drive compromise between the capacity and price per gigabyte of a performance terabyte drive and the speed of an SSD. You could grab a 64GB Indilinx SSD boot drive and a 1TB Seagate Barracuda XT or WD Caviar Black for around the same price, but that adds a lot of complexity: TRIM support, default document locations, managing two drives, and so forth. If you just want one drive for your OS and all your games and apps that has nearly the speed of an SSD, the 600GB Velociraptor is just the ticket.

We expect that most of Western Digital’s VelociRaptor sales will be to the enterprise market—it says Enterprise Storage right on the label, after all. But we expect it will find a home in some enthusiast builds nonetheless.

The WD VelociRaptor is available now in two configurations: the 450GB model is $300 and the 600GB version is $330. We'll have a full review in an upcoming issue of Maximum PC (and on the web); for now, here are those numbers. We tested the new 600GB VelociRaptor on both 3Gb/s SATA and 6Gb/s SATA against the last-gen 300GB Velociraptor on the same platform.

Benchmarks


600GB Veloci-
Raptor
600GB Veloci-
Raptor
300GB Veloci-
Raptor
300GB Veloci-
Raptor
SATA Speed 3Gb/s
6Gb/s 3Gb/s 6Gb/s
HDTune Min. Sustained Reads (MB/s) 97.8 97.8 62.0 62.1
HDTune Avg. Sustained Reads (MB/s) 132.6 132.6 99.9 101.5
HDTune Max. Sustained Reads (MB/s) 158.2
157.8
121.2
121.2
HDTune Burst Reads (MB/s) 201.2
270.8
210.0 226.3
HDTune Random Access Read (ms) 7.1
7.1
7.2
7.0
HDTune 4KB Random Read IOPS 139
145
145
146
HDTune Min. Sustained Writes (MB/s) 96.4
95.9
76.4
76.2
HDTune Avg. Sustained Writes (MB/s) 130.4
130.2
100.9
101.2
HDTune Max. Sustained Writes (MB/s) 155.9
163.4
121.0 123.1
HDTune Burst Writes (MB/s) 196.4
270.8
214.6
145.2
HDTune Random Access Writes (ms) 7.1
7.1 7.1
7.3
HDTune 4KB Random Write IOPS
321
300 384 402
Premiere Pro CS3 (sec) 291
285
300 306
PCMark Vantage x64 HDD Subscore 7467
7881
6042 6118
All tests performed on an Asus P6X58D Premium motherboard with a Core i7-X980 CPU @3.33GHz with 6GB DDR3/1600 running Windows 7 Professional 64-bit. SATA 3Gb/s tests performed on onboard Intel chipset; SATA 6Gb/s tests performed using onboard Marvell 9123 chipset.

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