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A note on the testing
Product reps have a habit of freaking out whenever we throw an orange or banana into an apples-to-apples comparison, but that's not going to stop us from testing the WD740GD against not only the WD360GD, but also a pair of 7,200RPM drives, a couple of 10K SCSI disks, and even a two-drive "parallel" ATA RAID 0 array.

With a 2,800RPM spindle speed advantage, the Raptors are easy favorites over the other Serial ATA disks. However, it's important to note that the Raptors are only available in 37 and 74GB capacities, and both models are quite expensive compared to Serial ATA offerings from Maxtor and Seagate.

Since the Raptors are built for high-end workstations and servers, comparing their performance to 10K RPM SCSI drives is also appropriate. However, there are a few things to keep in mind when we throw SCSI into the mix. First, our Adaptec 29320-R SCSI controller supports command queuing, which should give our SCSI drives an edge over the WD740GD, at least until the Raptor's TCQ gets host controller support. Also, it's important to note that Serial ATA drives support a WRITE_THROUGH flag that demands that data is written directly to the disk rather than to the drive's cache. For reasons I outline in this section of our 10K-RPM hard drive comparison, I haven't disabled WRITE_THROUGH for our SCSI disks.

Our testing methods
All tests were run three times, and their results were averaged, using the following test system.

 System
ProcessorIntel Pentium 4 2.26GHz
Front-side bus533MHz (4x133MHz)
MotherboardTyan Trinity GC-SL
ChipsetServerWorks Grand Champion SL
North bridgeServerWorks CMIC-SL
South bridgeServerWorks CSB5
Memory size512MB (1 DIMM)
Memory typeCAS 2.5 PC2100 ECC DDR SDRAM
GraphicsATI Rage XL
Storage Controllers

SIIG Serial ATA PCI

Adaptec 29320-R

3ware Escalade 7500
Storage Driver

Silicon Image 1.0.0.47

Adaptec 1.1.0.0

3ware 1.12.0.17
Storage

Western Digital Raptor WD740GD 74GB
Western Digital Raptor WD360GD 37GB
Maxtor DiamondMax Plus 9 120GB
Seagate Barracuda 7200.7 120GB

Maxtor Atlas 10K IV 147GB
Seagate Cheetah 10K.6 147GB

Maxtor 740X-6L 40GB
2-drive RAID 0
Operating SystemWindows XP Professional SP1

The Serial ATA, SCSI, and RAID cards were each used in the motherboard's PCI-X slot and had the entire PCI-X bus to themselves throughout testing.

A special thanks goes out to the Computer Repair Shop and KickAss Gear for kicking in the Western Digital Raptor WD360GD and WD 740GD we used for testing

We used the following versions of our test applications:

The test systems' Windows desktop was set at 1024x768 in 32-bit color at a 75Hz screen refresh rate. Vertical refresh sync (vsync) was disabled for all tests.

All the tests and methods we employed are publicly available and reproducible. If you have questions about our methods, hit our forums to talk with us about them.