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The value perspective
Welcome to our famous value analysis, which adds capacity and pricing to the performance data we've explored over the preceding pages. We used Newegg prices to even the playing field, and we didn't take mail-in rebates into account when performing our calculations. Since the VelociRaptor 1TB isn't widely available online just yet, we've had to use WD's suggested retail price.

First, we'll look at the all-important cost per gigabyte, which we've obtained using the amount of storage capacity accessible to users in Windows.

Although the SSDs approach the arbitrarily magical dollar-per-gigabyte mark, the mechanical drives are cheaper, at least per gigabyte. The VelociRaptor 1TB's $320 asking price makes it more expensive per gig than all the mechanical drives except the VR200M. The Momentus XT hybrids also command a premium, while the Barracuda 3TB represents the best value for your storage dollar—based on capacity alone.

Our remaining value calculations use a single performance score that we've derived by comparing how each drive stacks up against a common baseline provided by the Momentus 5400.4, a 2.5" notebook drive with a painfully slow 5,400-RPM spindle speed. This index uses a subset of our performance data described on this page of our last SSD round-up.

That pretty much says it all. The VelociRaptor 1TB is clearly the fastest mechanical drive, and it offers substantially higher performance than the old model. However, SSDs represent a huge step up overall.

Now for the real magic. We can plot this overall score on one axis and each drive's cost per gigabyte on the other to create a scatter plot of performance per dollar per gigabyte. Because the SSD performance scores are so much higher, I've busted out two scatter plots: one with labels and just the mechanical drives, and another that maps the relationship between those drives and the solid-state alternatives. The latter gets a little too crowded for labels, so you'll have to make do with the color-coding.

The VelociRaptor 1TB is in a much more attractive region of our first scatter plot than the VR200M, which is both slower and more expensive per gig. While the other mechanical drives sit to the left of the new VelociRaptor on the dollar-per-gigabyte axis, they're much lower on the performance scale.

In our second plot, the solid-state drives stick to the top-right corner, with extremely high performance that costs quite a lot more per gigabyte. The mechanical drives occupy the lower left quadrant, offering less performance at a lower per-gig cost.

To look at the value perspective from a slightly different angle, we've divided our overall performance score by the sum of our test system's components. Those parts total around $800 before we add the cost of the SSDs.

As the most expensive mechanical drive of the bunch, the VelociRaptor 1TB sits the farthest to the right on our first scatter plot. Its price premium at least comes with higher performance than the other mechanical drives.

The second plot is really interesting because the new VelociRaptor costs about as much as our 240-256GB SSDs. They offer about a quarter of the capacity, of course, but also several times the performance.