Western Digital VelociRaptor 1TB - Taking The Fight To SSDs

12/9/2012 9:16:36 AM

Taking the fight to SSDs with faster mechanical hard drives

Since SSDs are now becoming increasingly affordable, one might be tempted to think there’s surely no place for left for mechanical hard drives. However, while mechanical hard drives cannot compete with the ultra-fast performance of an SSD, what they do have going for them are decades of reliability, both proven and tested.

Western Digital Velociraptor 1TB

Western Digital Velociraptor 1TB

SSDs might have already been around for a couple of years, but the technology still has some ways to go before we can say that it has fully matured. For example, the newest SandForce drives using the SF-2281 controller were recently documented with having a pretty widespread BSOD (Blue Screen of Death) bug. Although the bug has since rectified with firmware upgrades, some forums have reported that a handful of drives continue to suffer from random BSOD occurrences.

Such issues are rare with mechanical hard drives. Western Digital is even offering the new VelociRaptor drives with a 5-year warranty programs, just shows how confident Wastern Digital are of their new high-performance drive.

As befits Western Digital’s flagship mechanical drive, the new VelcociRaptor uses the latest SATA 6Gbps interface for quick transfers.

As befits Western Digital’s flagship mechanical drive, the new VelcociRaptor uses the latest SATA 6Gbps interface for quick transfers.

For the uninitiated, the VelociRaptor series is of course Western Digital’s flagship line of mechanical hard drives. When it was first launched in 2003 as the ‘Raptor’, it was the first 10,000rpm SATA hard drive in the world. The new drive continues in the traditions as it too spins at a heady 10,000rpm. And although the drive itself is effectively of a 2.5-inch form factor, it is counted on a heatsink for the fast-spinning drive, and is what gives the drive its 3.5-inch form factor.

Underneath, the new VelociRaptor drive gets a large 64MB cache, a new controller, and also the latest SATA 6Gbps interface for the quickest possible transfers. The new drive will come in 1TB, 500GB and 250GB capacities.

On the performance front, the new VelcociRaptor drive impresses as it is significantly quicker than the model it replaces. Looking at our test result, this new drive is about 25% to 30% quicker, which is a remarkable achievement when you consider how mature mechanical hard disk technology is, and that our test drive is of a much larger capacity (1TB vs. 300GB). This is simply the fastest mechanical hard drive for the consumer that you can get your hands on right now.

That said, while sequential read and write speeds are actually pretty decent compared to SSDs, they are not indicative of everyday usage. And when it comes to random access operations and handling smaller data block, tasks that are a more accurate representation of everyday usage, SSDs have their mechanical counterparts left for dead, even one as quick as the VelociRaptor.

That isn’t to say SSDs are superior. Besides reliability, mechanical hard drives are also significantly more affordable. To achieve the same 1TB capacity, you’d have to get two 512GB SSDs, which will ring up in excess of $1,000 at least. A single 1TB VelociRaptor costs less than half at $429. All things considered, the new Western Digital VelociRaptor drives are viable alternatives for enthusiasts who are perhaps more budget-conscious and want to balance speed and capacity.


·         Capacity: 1TB

·         Spin rate: 10,000rpm

·         Cache: 4MB

·         Interface: SATA 6Gbps

·         Price: $429

Verdict: 8/10

·         Performance: 8.5/10

·         Features: 7/10

·         Value: 8.5/10


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