Western Digital’s Raptor WD1500ADFD hard drive

Manufacturer Western Digital
Model Raptor WD1500ADFD
Price (street)
Availability Now
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 rate 150MB/s
Maximum internal transfer rate 84MB/s 72MB/s
Read seek time 4.6ms 4.5ms
Write seek time 5.2ms 5.9ms
Average rotational latency 2.99ms
Spindle speed 10,000RPM
Available capacities 150GB 74GB
Cache size 16MB 8MB
Platter size 75GB 37GB
Idle acoustics 29dBA 32dBA
Seek acoustics 36dBA 36dBA
Idle power consumption 9.19W 8.40W
Read/write power consumption 10.02W 7.90W
Command queuing NCQ TCQ
Warranty length Five 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.

Test notes
We’ll be comparing the Raptor WD1500ADFD’s performance with that of a slew of competitors, including some of the latest and greatest Serial ATA drives from Hitachi, Maxtor, Seagate, and Western Digital. These drivers differ when it comes to external transfer rates, spindle speeds, cache sizes, platter densities, NCQ support, and capacity, all of which can have an impact on performance. Keep in mind the following differences as we move through our benchmarks:

  Max external transfer rate Spindle speed Cache size Platter size Capacity Native Command Queuing?
Barracuda 7200.7 NCQ 150 MB/s 7,200 RPM 8 MB 80 GB 160 GB Yes
Barracuda 7200.8 150 MB/s 7,200 RPM 8 MB 133 GB 400 GB Yes
Barracuda 7200.9 (160GB) 300 MB/s 7,200 RPM 8 MB 160 GB 160 GB Yes
Barracuda 7200.9 (500GB) 300 MB/s 7,200 RPM 16 MB 125 GB 500 GB Yes
Barracuda 7200.10 300 MB/s 7,200 RPM 16 MB 188 GB 750 GB Yes
Caviar SE16 300 MB/s 7,200 RPM 16 MB 83 GB 250 GB No
Caviar RE2 150 MB/s 7,200 RPM 16 MB 100 GB 400 GB Yes
Deskstar 7K500 300 MB/s 7,200 RPM 16 MB 100 GB 500 GB Yes
DiamondMax 10 150 MB/s 7,200 RPM 16 MB 100 GB 300 GB Yes
Raptor WD740GD 150 MB/s 10,000 RPM 8 MB 37 GB 74 GB No*
Raptor X 150 MB/s 10,000 RPM 16 MB 75 GB 150 GB Yes
Raptor WD1500ADFD 150 MB/s 10,000 RPM 16 MB 75 GB 150 GB Yes

Note that the Caviar SE16 and Raptor WD740GD lack support for Native Command Queuing. The WD740GD does support a form of command queuing known as Tagged Command Queuing (TCQ), but host controller and chipset support for TCQ is pretty thin. Our Intel 955X-based test platform doesn’t support TCQ.

Since Seagate makes versions of the 7200.7 both with and without NCQ support, the 7200.7 in our tests appears as the “Barracuda 7200.7 NCQ” to clarify that it’s the NCQ version of the drive. The Caviar RE2, Deskstar T7K250, DiamondMax 10, 7200.8, 7200.9, 7200.10, Raptor X, and Raptor WD1500ADFD aren’t explicitly labeled as NCQ drives because they’re not available without NCQ support.

Finally, we should note that our WD1500ADFD has a slightly newer firmware revision than the Raptor X sample we’ve had since February. The drives still share identical internals, but firmware optimizations could give our newer Raptor an edge over the X in some tests.

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

Processor Pentium 4 Extreme Edition 3.4GHz
System bus 800MHz (200MHz quad-pumped)
Motherboard Asus P5WD2 Premium
Bios revision 0422
North bridge Intel 955X MCH
South bridge Intel ICH7R
Chipset drivers Chipset
Memory size 1GB (2 DIMMs)
Memory type Micron DDR2 SDRAM at 533MHz
CAS latency (CL) 3
RAS to CAS delay (tRCD) 3
RAS precharge (tRP) 3
Cycle time (tRAS) 8
Audio codec ALC882D
Graphics Radeon X700 Pro 256MB with CATALYST 5.7 drivers
Hard drives Hitachi 7K500 500GB SATA
Maxtor DiamondMax 10 300GB SATA
Seagate Barracuda 7200.7 NCQ 160GB SATA
Seagate Barracuda 7200.8 400GB SATA
Seagate Barracuda 7200.9 160GB SATA
Seagate Barracuda 7200.9 500GB SATA
Seagate Barracuda 7200.10 750GB SATA
Western Digital Caviar SE16 250GB SATA
Western Digital Caviar RE2 400GB SATA
Western Digital Raptor WD740GD 74GB SATA
Western Digital Raptor X 150GB SATA
Western Digital Raptor WD1500ADFD 150GB SATA
OS Windows XP Professional
OS updates Service Pack 2

Our test system was powered by OCZ PowerStream power supply units. The PowerStream was one of our Editor’s Choice winners in our last PSU round-up.

We used the following versions of our test applications:

The test systems’ Windows desktop was set at 1280×1024 in 32-bit color at an 85Hz 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.


WorldBench overall performance
WorldBench uses scripting to step through a series of tasks in common Windows applications. It then produces an overall score. WorldBench also spits out individual results for its component application tests, allowing us to compare performance in each. We’ll look at the overall score, and then we’ll show individual application results alongside the results from some of our own application tests.

As expected, the WD1500ADFD joins the Raptor X at the head of the class in WorldBench. Seagate’s Barracuda 7200.10 isn’t all that far off the pace, though.

Multimedia editing and encoding

MusicMatch Jukebox

Windows Media Encoder

Adobe Premiere

VideoWave Movie Creator

Scores are generally close across WorldBench’s multimedia editing and encoding tests, but the Raptors manage to distance themselves from the competition a little in Adobe Premiere.

Image processing

Adobe Photoshop

ACDSee PowerPack

ACDSee shows a small advantage for the Raptors, with the WD1500ADFD completing the test just one second slower than the Raptor X.

Multitasking and office applications

Microsoft Office


Mozilla and Windows Media Encoder

Neither the Raptor X nor the WD1500ADFD manage to break free of the pack in WorldBench’s multitasking and office tests.

Other applications



The new Raptors have a field day in Nero, beating most of the field by more than 30 seconds. Seagate’s Barracuda 7200.10 finishes a close third, though, and even manages to win by a hair in Winzip.

Boot and load times
To test system boot and game level load times, we busted out our trusty stopwatch.

It may not lead the field, but the WD1500ADFD does rather well in our boot and level load time tests. Western Digital’s latest firmware revision may be responsible for the drive’s performance edge over the Raptor X in the system boot and Far Cry level load tests.

File Copy Test
File Copy Test is a pseudo-real-world benchmark that times how long it takes to create, read, and copy files in various test patterns. File copying is tested twice: once with the source and target on the same partition, and once with the target on a separate partition. Scores are presented in MB/s.

Although it’s by a generally modest margin, the WD1500ADFD is consistently faster than the Raptor X in FC-Test’s file creation tests. The newer Raptors all but dominate this test, with the 7,200-RPM competition only drawing close with the Windows and Programs test patterns. Those test patterns use a greater number of smaller files than the MP3, ISO, and Install test patterns, which favor fewer, larger files.

The WD1500ADFD is less dominating in FC-Test’s read tests, in part thanks to the strong performance of Seagate’s perpendicular 7200.10. Still, the WD1500ADFD’s average write speed across all five test patterns is good enough for second place overall behind the Barracuda.

Western Digital and Seagate continue to duke it out in FC-Test’s file copy tests, with the Raptor WD1500ADFD favoring smaller files than the Barracuda 7200.10. The rest of the 7,200-RPM field, and even the Raptor WD740GD, are well off the pace.

iPEAK multitasking
We’ve developed a series of disk-intensive multitasking tests to highlight the impact of command queuing on hard drive performance. You can get the low-down on these iPEAK-based tests here. The mean service time of each drive is reported in milliseconds, with lower values representing better performance.

Although it can’t quite match the DiamondMax 10 in our iPEAK multitasking tests, the Raptor WD1500ADFD is easily the second most consistent drive in the field. It’s even a little faster than the Raptor X in our first wave of tests, and unlike the Barracuda 7200.10, its performance characteristics don’t favor one multitasking scenario at the expense of another.

iPEAK multitasking – con’t

The WD1500ADFD continues its consistent iPEAK multitasking performance through our second wave of tests. It never quite catches the DiamondMax 10, but proves just a little bit quicker than the Raptor X.

IOMeter – Transaction rate
IOMeter presents a good test case for command queuing, so the NCQ-less Western Digital Caviar SE16 and Raptor WD740GD should have a slight disadvantage here under higher loads.

The Raptor shows its enterprise roots in our IOMeter tests and completely dominates the competition. Our WD1500ADFD’s newer firmware apparently improves performance over our older Raptor X with higher I/O loads, as well.

IOMeter – Response time

As one might expect, the WD1500ADFD’s IOMeter response rates are lower than every other drive we tested, including the Raptor X.

IOMeter – CPU utilization

IOMeter CPU utilization is under 0.5% nearly across the board. Note that the WD1500ADFD uses fewer CPU cycles than our Raptor X, though.

HD Tach
We tested HD Tach with the benchmark’s full variable zone size setting.

It’s hard to compete with the Raptor’s 10K-RPM spindle speed, and the WD1500ADFD easily dominates HD Tach’s sustained transfer rate tests. The drive is a little faster than the Raptor X, and both have a clear advantage over the Barracuda 7200.10.

Unfortunately, the WD1500ADFD’s lack of support for 300 MB/s Serial ATA transfer rates caps its performance in HD Tach’s read burst speed test. The Raptor’s still one of the fastest 150 MB/s drives, but its burst speed is more than 100 MB/s slower than the Barracuda 7200.10.

Thanks to their 10K-RPM spindle speeds, the Raptors have always offered much quicker access times than typical desktop hard drives. The WD1500ADFD is no exception, although its predecessor, the WD740GD, is actually a little faster in this test.

CPU utilization scores are within HD Tach’s +/- 2% margin for error in this test.

Noise levels
Noise levels were measured with an Extech 407727 Digital Sound Level meter 1″ from the side of the drives at idle and under an HD Tach seek load. Drives were run with the PCB facing up.

The WD1500ADFD’s windowless design makes less noise than the Raptor X, and is reasonably quiet at idle. However, under a seek load, the WD1500ADFD is noticeably louder than most of the competition.

Power consumption
For our power consumption tests, we measured the voltage drop across a 0.1-ohm resistor placed in-line with the 5V and 12V lines connected to each drive. Through the magic of Ohm’s Law, we were able to calculate the power draw from each voltage rail and add them together for the total power draw of the drive.

Despite its faster spindle speed, the WD1500ADFD’s power consumption is pretty reasonable.

Western Digital’s Raptor X won our Editor’s Choice award for being the fastest Serial ATA hard drive on the market—and for pushing the envelope by incorporating a window on the drive’s internals. The WD1500ADFD trades the Raptor X’s window for a lower price tag, and with the latest firmware, actually improves performance in a number of tests. For enthusiasts, that’s a pretty sweet trade-off, especially if you don’t even have a case window. That’s why we’re giving the WD1500ADFD an Editor’s Choice award.

Western Digital Raptor WD1500ADFD
June 2006

With a $250 street price and 150 GB capacity, the WD1500ADFD may not be the most attractive hard drive from a cost per gigabyte perspective. However, the Raptor’s performance is in a class all its own, particularly with multitasking and multi-user loads. It’s no slouch with the single-user tasks typical of desktop PCs, either, although its advantage there is less pronounced.

At the end of the day, the Raptor WD1500ADFD is simply the fastest Serial ATA drive we’ve ever tested. It’s perfect for enterprise-class workstations and servers, and easy to recommend for high-performance gaming rigs and enthusiast desktops. And you won’t have to worry about Windexing the window. 

Comments closed

Pin It on Pinterest

Share This

Share this post with your friends!