Which would you rather have, raw speed or redundancy? That's the delightful decision buyers of Western Digital's new My Book VelociRaptor Duo external storage device will face if investing in what WD calls the fastest My Book ever. The dual storage backup device bites at backup chores with a pair of speedy 10,000 RPM VelociRaptor hard drives, which you can configure in RAID 0 for speed or RAID 1 for protection. Plus, you can daisy chain multiple My Books for even more performance.
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.
Back in the day (as in, before solid state drives), Western Digital's VelociRaptor line was the cat's meow in terms of high speed storage. Fast and expensive, VelociRaptors were the tool of choice by power users willing to drop a bit of extra coin for better performance. Flash forward to today and you'll find SSDs are the popular option among power users, but just like billionaire InGen CEO John Hammond brought back dinosaurs in Jurassic Park, Western Digital has injected new DNA into its VelociRaptor line and is now shipping its most capacious mutation to date.
It used to be that if you were looking to put together a high end rig with as few compromises as possibles, you rolled with a Western Digital Velociraptor. Today enthusiasts are more likely to opt for a solid state drive when looking to address the storage bottleneck at any cost, but this shift in power hasn't yet rendered the Velociraptor extinct (or if it has, somebody forget to tell Western Digital).
For years, if you wanted the speediest consumer hard drive you could get your hands on, you went with a 10,000rpm Western Digital Raptor. Its first incarnation, released in 2003, was a 37GB single-platter drive using a PATA-to-SATA bridge. The next year brought a 74GB SATA 150 drive, and thereafter the drives roughly doubled in size (and went up a SATA spec) every couple of years. Last time WD refreshed the line, it bumped the capacity to 300GB, named the resulting 100MB/s-plus drive the VelociRaptor, and promptly won our Kick Ass award. But that was 2008—several hard drive generations ago. And though Western Digital’s latest VelociRaptor ups the ante with 600GB of space and a 6Gb/s SATA controller, the drive now has to compete with solid state drives and high-capacity, high-performance drives like WD’s own Caviar Black series.
Make no mistake: The new VelociRaptor, with its 32MB of cache and 6Gb/s transfer rates, is the fastest mechanical SATA drive we’ve ever tested. With average sustained read and write speeds greater than 130MB/s, it’s fully a third faster than the last-gen VelociRaptor, which averaged around 100MB/s for both. Random-access times hit around 7.1ms—about the same as the last-gen VelociRaptor, and about twice the speed of a fast 7,200rpm drive.
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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 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 new VelociRaptor with its top off.
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!
At a glance, it'd be easy to mistake Patriot's newest Warp SSD for a Western Digital VelociRaptor hard drive. That's because like the VelociRaptor, Patriot plans to include a bracket with the Warp drive that converts the 2.5-inch drive into a 3.5-inch form factor.
Keep in mind that Western Digital's IcePAK was designed to help keep its 10K RPM hard drive cool. Patriot's bracket, which Fudzilla says is made out of aircraft-grade aluminum, will undoubtedly lend additional cooling prowess to the Warp SSD, but SSDs don't typically get hot in the first place.
As for the drive itself, the third-gen SSD checks in at 256GB and boasts increasingly common read and write speeds of 240MB/s and 160MB/s, respectively.
No word yet on availability or price, however according to Fudzilla, Patriot plans to give the bracket away for free with the Warp SSD.
SSD’s are hot, but how do you mount your new 2.5-inch solid state drive in a 3.5-inch bay without it looking ghettolicious?
The answer: Use a VelociRaptor’s extruded aluminum shell with Intel’s wicked fast SSD. The result is one a combination even better than peanut butter and chocolate if we may so say our selves.
Does it make sense to do this with a live VelociRaptor? Probably not, but we just happened to have a dead unit and rather than toss it in the garbage, we shucked out the dead drive by removing the four Torqx screws and mounted the Intel X25-M in its place. You can actually do this with a live VelociRaptor but you’ll immediately void the warranty on the drive. Does an SSD need all that aluminum to keep it cool? The answer is no, but it sure looks cool, right?
I have a brand-new rig that sports two WD Raptors in a mirrored array. I wanted the speed of the Raptors and the convenience of a mirrored array. But I wonder if a mirrored or striped array (1+0, 0+1, or some other RAID number) using four 7,200rpm drives would be faster than the above array. And how would the price compare?
Delicious, speedy answers for David after the jump.