Though the 74GB Raptor enjoyed fame and fortune for more than a year as the world’s fastest hard drive, its low areal density and 8MB buffer allowed high-capacity 7200rpm drives to catch up—and even surpass—the mighty Raptor. WD has remedied the situation with an all-new Raptor that ups capacity, buffer size, and the ante, as it were. It’s a hellaciously fast drive, with a price tag to match.
The new drive sports the same 10,000rpm spindle speed as the last-gen Raptor, but has twice the capacity at 150GB, and double the buffer size at 16MB total. The only other significant change is in the drive’s queuing technology: The old Raptor used tagged command queuing, which was only supported by a few add-in SATA controllers.
The new drive supports native command queuing (NCQ), which is the industry standard for SATA drives and is supported on all late-model chipsets, including Intel 915x and higher, and nVidia’s nForce4. Other notable specs include a two-platter design, a five-year warranty, and two flavors of availability: a standard-looking version for $300, and a version with a see-through top (the Raptor X) for $350.
During testing, the drive performed exactly as we’d expect a drive with these specs to perform—it blew every benchmark record we have out of the water. To say it’s pretty fast is like saying we kind of like PC hardware. Even compared with the fastest 7200rpm drive available—WD’s own WD400KD—the new Raptor eats that drive’s lunch and gives it a wedgie to boot.
Our only issue with this drive is that it seems pricey at $300, and especially so for the $350 X version. You can buy a pretty-damn-fast 400- to 500GB drive for less than that, but Raptors have always sacrificed capacity for speed, and this drive is no different.