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IOMeter — continued

Obviously, we can't make much of our mechanical hard drive scores with the SSDs hogging the limelight. Let's set them aside for a moment and take a fresh look at how things stack up.

Score one for spindle speed. Wait, make that four. Higher rotational speeds enable lower access times, and that helps a lot in IOMeter, allowing the Raptors to surge to the front of the field. The VelociRaptor really is miles ahead of the next-closest mechanical drive tested. What's more impressive, however, is how the older Raptors fare against today's best 7,200-RPM desktop drives. Even the ancient WD360GD, which lacks the command queuing support that could make a big difference under this kind of load, offers higher transaction rates than the vast majority of modern desktop units.

IOMeter serves up all sorts of interesting subplots, such as the tendency of Western Digital drives to offer higher peak transaction rates than their competitors. One particularly shocking result: the brand-spanking-new Seagate Barracuda 7200.12 has a lower max transaction rate than five previous generations of Barracudas with three of four access patterns.

The latest Barracuda even gets beaten by a bunch of notebook drives, whose typically slower access times put them at a distinct disadvantage in IOMeter. Kudos to the Scorpio Black for proving that some notebook drives can take the heat, though. Whatever secret sauce Western Digital has mixed into its 3.5" formula appears to work for 2.5" drives, too.