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Western Digital's Raptor WD1500ADFD hard drive


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— 12:00 AM on June 12, 2006

ManufacturerWestern Digital
ModelRaptor WD1500ADFD
Price (street)
AvailabilityNow

WESTERN DIGITAL'S RAPTORS have long set the performance standard for desktop Serial ATA drives. With the Raptor X, Western Digital also upped the ante on looks by offering a view of the drive's internals. Although the Raptor X's window is certainly an impressive engineering accomplishment, especially given the drive's 10,000 RPM spindle speed, the novelty wears thin pretty quickly.

For those with no desire to spend countless hours staring at the Raptor X's drive head dart back and forth across the platter, Western Digital makes the Raptor WD1500ADFD. This drive lacks a window, but otherwise, it's mechanically identical to the Raptor X—same spindle, cache, platters, and theoretically, performance. The WD1500ADFD also sells for roughly $50 less than the Raptor X, making it even more tempting for enthusiasts looking for a speedy storage upgrade.

Thanks to identical internals, we can expect the WD1500ADFD's performance to at least match that of the Raptor X. But how much faster are these Raptors than the best 7,200-RPM desktop drives on the market? Can they keep up with Seagate's latest perpendicular Barracuda 7200.10? Read on to find out.


The drive
Although the Raptor X is clearly designed for PC enthusiasts, Western Digital has always pushed its other Raptors as enterprise drives for servers and workstations—not that enthusiasts have had a problem ignoring the arbitrary product segmentation. For enthusiasts, the Raptor WD1500ADFD really sells itself. Western Digital has made it clear that little more than a window separates the drive from the Raptor X, and both are much improved over the previous WD740GD.

  Raptor WD1500ADFD Raptor WD740GD
Maximum external transfer rate150MB/s
Maximum internal transfer rate84MB/s72MB/s
Read seek time4.6ms4.5ms
Write seek time5.2ms5.9ms
Average rotational latency2.99ms
Spindle speed10,000RPM
Available capacities150GB74GB
Cache size16MB8MB
Platter size75GB37GB
Idle acoustics29dBA32dBA
Seek acoustics36dBA36dBA
Idle power consumption9.19W8.40W
Read/write power consumption10.02W7.90W
Command queuingNCQTCQ
Warranty lengthFive years

Since the original, the Raptor's biggest handicap has been limited storage capacity. Even the WD740GD's 74 GB capacity proved too limited for many, but Western Digital has managed to squeeze 150 GB into the WD1500ADFD. That size obviously isn't all that impressive next to the half-terabyte and higher capacities offered by today's beefiest drives, but it should be enough for most folks, if only as an OS and applications drive.

Denser platters allow the WD1500ADFD to offer a greater storage capacity than the previous generation Raptor. A higher areal density should also improve performance by allowing the drive head to access more data in the same physical area.


The new Raptor has other performance perks, as well. Western Digital has doubled the drive's cache to 16 MB and ditched its obscure Tagged Command Queuing implementation in favor of the more widely supported Native Command Queuing.

Support for 300 MB/s Serial ATA transfer rates, however, is conspicuously missing from the WD1500ADFD. When it first released these new Raptors, Western Digital candidly admitted that its 300 MB/s Serial ATA implementation wasn't yet ready to interoperate correctly with all if the various SATA disk controllers on the market. With an enterprise-class drive like the WD1500ADFD, reliability was a greater priority than support for this feature. We have yet to see real-world applications really benefit from 300 MB/s Serial ATA transfer rates, anyway. In fact, some drive manufacturers have started shipping 300 MB/s drives in 150 MB/s mode to avoid compatibility problems with certain chipsets.

Western Digital covers the Raptor WD1500ADFD with a five-year warranty. That nicely matches the warranty coverage typically offered with enterprise-class SCSI drives, although it's somewhat less notable now that Seagate offers a five-year warranty on all its internal hard drives, including desktop models.