Western Digital’s VelociRaptor VR200M hard drive

Manufacturer Western Digital
Model VelociRaptor VR200M
Price (MSRP) $280
Availability Now

For quite a long time, there were three performance tiers for desktop hard drives. At the bottom, 5,400-RPM models served as the sensible baseline for those simply looking for storage. 7,200-RPM drives lived one notch higher on the ladder, offering much better performance while still being practical enough for mainstream desktops. And then there was the final tier: even faster 10,000-RPM monsters that migrated over from the world of enterprise-class workstations and servers.

Enthusiasts have always had a weakness for enterprise gear. Longer ago than I’d care to admit remembering, we couldn’t get our hands on hard drives that spun their platters faster than 7,200-RPM without dipping into expensive SCSI territory. Then along came Western Digital’s Raptor. Ostensibly designed for enterprise, this 3.5″, 10k-RPM hard drive conveniently came with a Serial ATA interface that plugged into just about any new desktop motherboard on the market. The first incarnation may only have offered 37GB of storage capacity at a time when other desktop models were pushing hundreds of gigabytes, but the Raptor line eventually spawned far more practical 74 and 150GB variants. Western Digital even gave enthusiasts a nod with a special windowed edition dubbed the Raptor X.

For its last Raptor reboot, WD followed an enterprise storage trend that’s seen 3.5″ drives give way to 2.5″ models that can be more densely packed into rack-mount servers. The resulting VelociRaptor had the same footprint as traditional mobile drives, albeit with a 15-mm drive height—too tall to slip into notebooks designed for drives only 9.5 mm thick. Despite its Yoda-like proportions, the VelociRaptor doubled its predecessor’s capacity with 300GB of storage. WD even wrapped the drive in a 3.5″ sled that conveniently slid into standard enclosure bays.

New Raptor models have come out roughly every two years since the first one was launched. Impressively, each drive has set a new performance standard upon its release. Nearly two years have passed since the VelociRaptor made its official debut, and wouldn’t you know it, Western Digital has just hatched a new one. The latest VelociRaptor VR200M retains the same 2.5″ form factor as its forebear, but it’s been working out and has bulked up to an impressive 600GB.

Before you think that we’re in for another raising of the performance bar, consider that a lot has happened in the storage world over the past two years. Just a couple of years ago, solid-state drives were rare, impractical, and stupendously expensive. Today, they’re far more common, actually quite usable, and finally starting to flirt with being justifiably affordable—depending on your budget, anyway. The question we face is obvious: can the new VelociRaptor compete in this rapidly evolving storage market, or has it become, well, a dinosaur?

The VelociRaptor evolved

The latest addition to the VelociRaptor family is an evolutionary upgrade rather than a radical departure. WD hasn’t changed the form factor at all, although it has updated the IcePack drive sled since the original VelociRaptor’s launch. The first revision’s SATA connectors weren’t in the usual spot, creating problems for hot-swap bays. An auxiliary circuit board now situates the sled’s Serial ATA ports in the correct location. (Current-generation VelociRaptors have been available with this design for a while.)

The new IcePack gets an internal adapter board.

Of course, if you won’t be installing the VelociRaptor in a 3.5″ bay, you can order it without the IcePack. The sled might look like a giant heatsink, but it’s not necessary to cool the drive. Remember that the VelociRaptor was designed to live in high-density servers.

Speaking of density, the VR200M’s most impressive attribute may be its 600GB storage capacity. Western Digital pushed capacity on two fronts, upgrading the old two-platter design to three platters and increasing the capacity of each from 150 to 200GB. The result is an impressive feat of miniaturization—three 200GB platters spinning at 10,000 RPM within the confines of an enclosure that’s only a few millimeters thicker than most smartphones.

Western Digital hasn’t disclosed the actual areal densities of the platters inside either the old or the new VelociRaptors. However, a little deduction and simple math can help us estimate how many more bits per square inch the VR200M squeezes onto its platter than the old VR150M. According to official spec sheets, the VR200M’s maximum sustained data rate is 145MB/s, which is 13% faster than that of the VR150M. Since the drives share a common spindle speed and platter dimensions, we can infer that the VR200M’s linear density is likewise 13% higher. If my math is right, that translates to a 28% increase in areal density, which is slightly less than the 33% jump one might have assumed looking at platter capacities alone.

VelociRaptor VR150M VelociRaptor VR200M
Maximum external transfer rate 300MB/s 600MB/s
Spindle speed 10,000 RPM
Cache size 16MB 32MB
Platter size 150GB 200GB
Available capacities 150, 300GB 450, 600GB
Maximum sustained data rate 128MB/s 145MB/s
Full-stroke seek time 8.5 ms
Average seek time 3.6 ms
Track-to-track seek time 0.75 ms 0.4 ms
Idle acoustics 27 dBA
Seek acoustics 34 dBA
Idle power 4.53W 4.3W
Read/write power 6.08W 6.2-6.8W
Warranty length 5 years

The VR200M’s higher areal density pushes tracks closer together than on the VR150M, making the former quicker when seeking from track to track. However, WD quotes the same average and full-stroke seek times for both drives. The smaller bits on higher-density platters actually make maintaining fast random access times more difficult, so there’s something to be said for the VR200M holding the line here.

Western Digital has added a 32MB cache to this new VelociRaptor, doubling the old model’s 16MB cache. The 32MB cache may indeed be adequate from a performance perspective, but it still feels a little chintzy considering the fact that WD’s top-of-the-line Caviar Black drives sport 64MB caches. Even low-power Caviar Greens are available with 64MB of cache, which makes putting 32MB on a marquee VelociRaptor seem a little short-sighted.

More puzzling than the VR200M’s cache size is the drive’s swanky new 6Gbps Serial ATA interface. There might be a small chance that this latest VelociRaptor can burst data from its cache quicker than the prior SATA standard’s 300MB/s limit, but the drive’s own spec sheet confirms that it can’t sustain even half that speed. I don’t imagine the faster interface is needed at all.

Curiously, the VR200M’s dual-core drive controller is shared with Western Digital’s RE4 2TB, which is a 7,200-RPM drive with a 3Gbps SATA interface. The RE4 is an enterprise-class model, which could explain the shared controller. After all, the VR200M does offer a number of enterprise-specific features. Support for Time-Limited Error Recovery (TLER) prevents RAID arrays from marking disks as bad prematurely, should they end up chasing down errors for too long. Also, the Rotary Acceleration Feed Forward (RAFF) capability allows the VR200M to maintain performance in tightly-packed arrays by compensating for environmental vibration.

Taking a page from its recent desktop drives, Western Digital has added NoTouch ramp loading technology to the new Raptor. This feature moves an idle drive head completely off the platter rather than letting it rest on the surface. WD claims NoTouch reduces wear on the drive. In fact, the VR200M is apparently capable of enduring 600,000 head unload and unload cycles—12 times more than the VR150M. Both drives carry mean time between failure ratings of 1.4 million hours, though. Western Digital’s five-year warranty coverage for enterprise-class hard drives persists, as well.

Meet The Twins

I’ve been working on a new storage test suite what feels like ages now, but before we get into the revamped mix of tests that will greet the VelociRaptor, I should take a moment to introduce The Twins. No, I’m not talking about Mary-Kate and Ashley. Instead, I refer to the duo of identical new test systems we’ve assembled with a smattering of cutting-edge hardware.

In the hearts of these systems beat Intel Core i5-750 CPUs. The i5-750 may not have the Hyper-Threading capacity of the i7 series, but with four Nehalem-derived cores ticking at 2.66GHz, there’s still plenty of power on tap for only $200. Thanks to Turbo Boost, the i5-750 can actually push the clock speed of a single core all the way up to 3.2GHz. However, in the interests of keeping The Twins running at the exact same clock speed, we disabled Turbo Boost and set Windows 7’s power plan to High Performance, which stops throttling from lowering the CPU clock.

Keeping the i5-750s cool are a pair of SpinQ heatsinks graciously provided by Thermaltake. These towers have a unique design that stacks radiator rings around an internal blower-style fan, and the end result is nothing short of beautiful. The SpinQ has a handy control knob that adjusts the fan speed, and I’ve had no problems running the i5-750s on an open test bench with the fan spinning at its slowest setting. You can find the SpinQ selling online for as little as $54.

4GB of memory sounded about right for these systems, and OCZ sent over a couple of Platinum DDR3-1333 kits for The Twins. These modules have been rock solid running at 1333MHz with 7-7-7-20-1T timings at 1.65V. Each 4GB kit sells for about $110 online right now.

Gigabyte kicked in matched motherboards and graphics cards for our tandem of new test systems. The P55A-UD7 is the crown jewel of Gigabyte’s P55 motherboard lineup. The UD7 has built-in 6Gbps Serial ATA support via a Marvell 9128 storage controller and SuperSpeed USB 3.0 via an NEC chip. Both of those next-gen storage chips sit behind a PLX bridge chip to ensure that the P55’s half-speed PCI Express 2.0 lanes don’t bottleneck performance.

The UD7 has all the comforts one might expect from a high-end Gigabyte board, including gobs of overclocking options and weak BIOS-level fan speed controls. Flagship products like this are rarely cheap, and the UD7 costs a pretty penny at $275 online.

Gigabyte’s passively-cooled Radeon HD 4850 1GB is quite a bit more affordable at only around $140. Although it features a last-gen graphics chip, the card is completely silent. The port cluster’s inclusion of a VGA port threw me for a bit of a loop, though. Fortunately, you still get dual digital outputs: one DVI and one HDMI.

A number of our benchmarks test drives in an unformatted state or as the secondary drive in a system. For those tests, we need a primary hard drive to host the operating system. Western Digital kindly sent over a couple of its latest terabyte Caviar Blacks to fill in when necessary. These models can currently be had for as little as $110.

Two OCZ Z-Series 550W PSUs provide power for The Twins. We didn’t need anything special on the PSU front beyond something quiet and reliable, and while I can’t speak to the latter after only a few weeks of continuous testing, these units barely make a whisper. You can pick up a 550W Z-Series PSU for $90 at Newegg.

The Twins give us a double-barreled storage test platform that should nicely represent the sort of systems enthusiasts are putting together today. We have 6Gbps and USB 3.0 covered, and thanks to Windows 7, support for TRIM with solid-state drives, as well. Thanks to Gigabyte, OCZ, Thermaltake, and Western Digital for hooking us up with the necessary hardware.

Our test methods

The Twins have been testing a collection of drives furiously for the last couple of weeks in preparation for this review. Unfortunately, I had to start all over again a week ago after discovering an issue with Intel’s latest storage controller drivers for the P55 chipset. Our test systems are now running the Microsoft AHCI driver built into Windows 7, although as you’ll see, it presents another set of challenges.

I had hoped to have a broader range of comparative results in this review, but even with dual test systems, there was only time to test a few competitors. Here’s a look at some key specifications of the rivals we’ve selected to go up against the new VelociRaptor.

Interface speed Spindle speed Cache size Platter capacity Total capacity
Caviar Black 2TB 3Gbps 7,200 RPM 64MB 500GB 2TB
Nova V128 3Gbps NA 64MB NA 128GB
VelociRaptor VR150M 3Gbps 10,000 RPM 16MB 150GB 300GB
VelociRaptor VR200M 6Gbps 10,000
RPM
32MB 200GB 600GB
X25-M G2 3Gbps NA 32MB NA 160GB

As you can see, the VR200M is the only drive of the bunch with a 6Gbps SATA interface. We’ve tested the drive connected to the P55’s 3Gbps SATA controller and to the 6Gbps Marvell chip running its latest 1.0.0.1027 drivers. All the other drives were tested on the P55’s SATA controller.

Naturally, we had to pit the VR200M against its VR150M predecessor. With other hard drive makers shying away from 10k-RPM SATA drives, the old VelociRaptor is actually the new drive’s most comparable rival. We’ve also thrown Western Digital’s Caviar Black 2TB into the mix to represent the 7,200-RPM crowd. The Black offers the best overall performance of any 7,200-RPM drive, and the high areal density of its 500GB platters should give the VelociRaptor a good challenge with sequential transfers.

Since the VelociRaptor faces a storage market flooded with solid-state drives, we’ve added a couple of SSDs to the mix. Intel’s X25-M G2 160GB has been a favorite of ours since its release, and we’ve tested the drive with its latest 02HD firmware. Also included is Corsair’s Nova V128. The Nova is a new spin on Indilinx’s popular Barefoot controller, and we’ll be taking a closer look at it in an upcoming SSD round-up. As far as performance is concerned, we expect the Nova to be roughly representative of other Indilinx-based drives.

I know what you’re thinking: but what about newer SSDs like Crucial’s RealSSD C300 and all that new SandForce-based hotness that was on display at CES? The only SandForce-based model you can actually buy at the moment is OCZ’s limited-edition Vertex LE, which the company tells me is nearly sold out already. We’ll be taking a closer look at SandForce-based drives when mass-market models arrive. We’ll also be testing the RealSSD C300 but are currently waiting on Crucial to finish a firmware update that’s supposed to address some performance issues with the drive. Expect these and other SSDs, including fresh entries from Intel, Kingston, Plextor, and Western Digital, to appear in an upcoming article.

The block-rewrite penalty inherent to SSDs and the TRIM command designed to offset it both complicate our testing somewhat, so I should explain our methods with respect to the Nova and X25-M in greater detail. Before testing the drives, each was returned to a factory-fresh state with a secure erase. Next, we fired up HD Tune and ran full-disk read and write speed tests. The TRIM command requires that drives have a file system in place, but since HD Tune requires an unpartitioned drive, TRIM won’t be a factor in those tests.

After HD Tune, we partitioned the drives and kicked off our usual IOMeter scripts, which are now aligned to 4KB sectors. When running on a partitioned drive, IOMeter first fills it with a single file, firmly putting SSDs into a used state in which all of their flash pages have been occupied. We deleted that file before moving onto our file copy tests, after which we restored an image to each drive for some application testing. Incidentally, creating and deleting IOMeter’s full-disk file and the associated partition didn’t affect HD Tune transfer rates or access times.

According to Microsoft, the TRIM command is invoked whenever files are deleted. Flash pages housing data that have been deleted are marked as available, but it’s up to the SSD to decide when to actually erase those pages. A solid-state drive may clear pages at its leisure and is likely to do so in conjunction with subsequent writes and its own garbage-collection and wear-leveling algorithms. Our methods should ensure that each SSD is tested on an even, used-state playing field. However, differences in how eagerly an SSD elects to erase trimmed flash pages could affect performance in our tests and in the real world.

With few exceptions, all tests were run at least three times, and we reported the median of the scores produced. We used the following system configuration for testing:

Processor

Intel Core i5-750 2.66GHz
Motherboard Gigabyte GA-P55A-UD7
Bios revision F4
Chipset Intel P55 Express
Chipset drivers
Chipset 9.1.1.1015

Memory size
4GB
(2 DIMMs)
Memory type

OCZ Platinum DDR3-1333
at 1333MHz
Memory timings 7-7-7-20-1T

Audio
Realtek ALC889A with 2.42
drivers
Graphics

Gigabyte Radeon HD 4850 1GB
with Catalyst 10.2 drivers
Hard drives Western Digital VelociRaptor
VR200M

Western Digital Caviar Black 2TB


Western Digital VelociRaptor VR150M


Corsair Nova V128 128GB
with 1.0 firmware

Intel X25-M G2 160GB
with 02HD firmware
Power supply

OCZ Z-Series 550W
OS

Windows 7 Ultimate x64

We used the following versions of our test applications:

The test systems’ Windows desktop was set at 1280×1024 in 32-bit color at a 75Hz screen refresh rate. Vertical refresh sync (vsync) was disabled for all tests.

Most of 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.

HD Tune

We’ll kick things off with HD Tune, which replaces HD Tach as our synthetic benchmark of choice. Although not necessarily representative of real-world workloads, HD Tach’s targeted tests give us a glimpse of each drive’s raw capabilities. From there, we can explore which drives live up to their potential.

HD Tune lets us capture transfer rates across the entire length of the disk for some additional graphing goodness. As you can see, the VR200M offers a healthy boost in read performance versus the other mechanical drives.

The SSDs are in another class entirely, however. Both offer substantially higher average read speeds, and unlike mechanical drives, they can sustain that performance across their entire capacity. At least in theory, every flash chip in an SSD is just as fast as the one sitting next to it. With mechanical drives, the outer regions of each platter offer higher sustained throughput than the inner ones.

That theory goes out the window a little with writes, which have always been a weakness for SSDs. The Nova’s write speeds oscillate in a sawtooth pattern, but it still manages to keep ahead of the VR200M, particularly as we move inward on the VelociRaptor’s platters. That said, the VelociRaptor offers much better write performance than the X25-M.

The new VelociRaptor also handily beats its predecessor and the Caviar Black here, which is to be expected. I didn’t anticipate seeing the VR200M post slower write speeds on the 6Gbps Marvell controller, though. As our nifty line graph illustrates, the Marvell controller starts out slower and never manages to catch up.

Next up: some burst-rate tests that should test the cache speed of each drive.

The 6Gbps controller redeems itself somewhat in HD Tune’s burst tests. However, the VR200M is still a long way from eclipsing the 300MB/s limit imposed by the old Serial ATA spec.

I’d elaborate on these numbers a little more, but I’m not convinced that Microsoft’s AHCI drivers are letting the drives burst as fast as they can. When initially testing with Intel’s latest AHCI drivers, HD Tune reported burst speeds 16-21MB/s higher for the VelociRaptors and Caviar Black. We’ve also seen the X25-M G2 burst at 241MB/s in HD Tach. Apparently, it’s quite difficult to make an AHCI driver that works properly with everything.

Our HD Tune tests conclude with a look at random access times, which the app separates into 512-byte, 4KB, 64KB, and 1MB tests.

With near-instantaneous access times, the SSDs easily outgun the VelociRaptor. However, the solid-state drives start to lose their luster as we access larger chunks of data. The Nova and X25-M slow by an order of magnitude when we move from 64KB to 1MB transfer sizes, although they’re still well outside the VelociRaptor’s reach.

The VR200M predictably leads the mechanical field, managing access times similar to the VR150M until we get to the 1MB transfer size. In that test, the new VelociRaptor is a good four milliseconds quicker than the old one—the same margin that the VR150M enjoys over the 7,200-RPM Caviar Black.

The results play out similarly on the write front, with the VR200M finding itself wedged between slower mechanical drives and faster SSDs. Interestingly, the mechanical drives have quicker access times with writes rather than reads, while the opposite is true for our SSDs. Indeed, the 1MB transfer size proves particularly problematic for the X25-M, which otherwise has the quickest access times.

File Copy Test
Since we’ve tested theoretical transfer rates, it’s only fitting that we follow up with a look at how each drive handles a more realistic set of sequential transfers. 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. We’ve converted those completion times to MB/s to make the results easier to interpret.

Windows 7’s intelligent caching schemes make obtaining consistent and repeatable performance results rather difficult with FC-Test. To get reliable results, we had to drop back to an older 0.3 revision of the application and create or own custom test patterns. During our initial testing, we noticed that larger test patterns tended to generate more consistent file creation, read, and copy times. That makes sense, because with 4GB of system memory, our test rig has plenty of free RAM available to be filled by Windows 7’s caching and pre-fetching mojo.

For our tests, we created custom MP3, video, and program files test patterns weighing in at roughly 10GB each. The MP3 test pattern was created from a chunk of my own archive of ultra-high-quality MP3s, while the video test pattern was built from a mix of video files ranging from 360MB to 1.4GB in size. The program files test pattern was derived from, you guessed it, the contents of our test system’s Program Files directory.

Even with these changes, we noticed obviously erroneous results pop up every so often. Additional test runs were performed to replace those scores.

The VR200M holds its own against Intel’s fastest SSD in our collection of real-world write workloads, but it’s no match for the Indilinx-powered Nova. The VelociRaptor is about 60MB/s slower than the Nova with each file set, which is a huge margin considering the close transfer rates posted by the rest of the competition.

The VR200M deals with our MP3 test pattern much better than the SSDs. However, even though it leads the rest of the mechanical pack with the other file sets, the VelociRaptor loses big to the solid-state drives with the video and program files workloads. The X25-M and Nova are way out ahead in the video file set, and the Intel drive reads our collection of program files more than 100MB/s faster.

These copy tests combine read and write operations and then delete the newly created set of files. The VelociRaptor again finds itself trailing behind the SSDs and just ahead of the mechanical drives.

Application performance

We’ve long used WorldBench to test performance across a broad range of common desktop applications. The problem is that few of those tests are bound by storage subsystem performance—a faster hard drive isn’t going to improve your browsing or 3ds Max rendering speeds. But a few of WorldBench’s component tests have shown favor to faster hard drives in the past, so we’ve included a few of them here.

The VR200M finds itself at the head of the class in WorldBench’s Photoshop test. I’m not sure why the X25-M is so slow, but it was consistently sluggish through more than half a dozen test runs. Apart from that outlier, the field is bunched together pretty tightly.

WorldBench’s Nero test has always exploited faster hard drives, and it manages to run about 20 seconds quicker on the new VelociRaptor than on the old one. The SSDs are speedier still, and by greater margins.

This WinZip test doesn’t seem to care which drive we’re using. Only one second separates the field, which amounts to a wash.

Although source-code compiling isn’t a part of the WorldBench suite, we’ve often been asked to add a compile test to our storage reviews. And so we have. For this test, we built a dump of the Firefox source code from March 23, 2010 using Visual Studio 2008. This process writes over 22 thousand files totaling about 840MB, so there’s plenty of disk activity. However, we had to restrict compiling to a single core because using multiple cores in Windows 7 proved unstable.

The VelociRaptor looks to be about as fast as all the other drives when it comes to compiling Firefox. I’m curious to see whether performance in this test is affected when we delve into slower drives.

Boot and load times

Our trusty stopwatch makes a return for some hand-timed boot and load tests. When looking at the boot time results, keep in mind that our system must initialize multiple storage controllers, each of which looks for connected devices, before Windows starts to load. You should be looking at differences in boot times rather than the absolute values.

This boot test starts the moment the power button is hit and stops when the mouse cursor turns into a pointer on the Windows 7 desktop. For what it’s worth, I experimented with some boot tests that included launching multiple applications from the startup folder, but those apps wouldn’t load reliably in the same order, making precise timing difficult. We’ll take a look at this scenario from a slightly different angle in a moment.

The SSDs boot our system a little quicker than the VelociRaptor, but you’re only looking at an advantage of a few seconds at best. The VR200M enjoys a similar edge over the other mechanical drives, and it’s even quicker when connected to the Marvell controller. However, I suspect that differences in drive initialization times are responsible for the VR200M’s apparent edge with 6Gbps SATA here.

A faster hard drive is not going to improve frame rates in your favorite game (not if you’re running a reasonable amount of memory, anyway), but can one get you into that game quicker?

It certainly can in Modern Warfare 2, at least for the “O Cristo Redentor” special-ops mission. The VR200M looks pretty good here, besting its forebear by a second and the X25-M by three. Still, there’s no touching the Corsair Nova, which brings up the mission a full ten seconds faster than the VelociRaptor.

The Nova also holds a lead over the VelociRaptor in our Crysis Warhead test, which loads a save point from the beginning of the game. The difference between the two isn’t as substantial in this game, but it’s greater than the gap between the VR200M and the rest of the contenders.

Disk-intensive multitasking

TR DriveBench is a new addition to our test suite that allows us to record the individual IO requests associated with a Windows session and then play those results back on different drives. We’ve used this app to create a new set of multitasking workloads that should be representative of the sort of disk-intensive scenarios folks face on a regular basis.

For each workload, we ran a disk-intensive task in the background while stepping through a succession of multiple foreground tasks. In each case, we varied the background task, while the suite of foreground tasks remained the same.

Those foreground tasks included loading up multiple pages in Firefox, opening, saving, and closing small and large documents in Word, spreadsheets in Excel, PDFs in Acrobat, and images in Photoshop. We then fired up Modern Warfare 2 and loaded two special-ops missions, playing each one for three minutes. TweetDeck, the Pidgin instant-messaging app, and AVG Anti-Virus were running throughout.

The background tasks included our Firefox compiling test; a file copy made up of a mix of movies, MP3s, and program files; a BitTorrent download pulling seven Linux ISOs from 800 connections at a combined 1.2MB/s; a video transcode converting a high-def 720p over-the-air recording from my home-theater PC to WMV format; and a full-disk AVG virus scan.

We can measure performance in DriveBench by playing back all of the IOs associated with each workload and timing how long that takes to complete. We know the number of IOs in each workload, and with a completion time, we can score each drive in IOs per second. During playback, any disk idle time recorded in the original session is ignored—IOs are fed to the disk as fast as it can process them. This approach doesn’t give us a perfect indicator of real-world behavior, but it does illustrate how each drive might perform if it were attached to an infinitely fast system.

Below, you’ll find an overall score followed by scores for each of our individual workloads. The overall score is an average of the mean performance score in each multitasking workload.

DriveBench doesn’t produce reliable results with Microsoft’s ACHI driver or Marvell’s 6Gbps SATA driver, forcing us to obtain the following performance results with Intel’s 9.6.0.1014 RST drivers. The app will only run on unpartitioned drives, so we tested drives after they’d completed the rest of the suite.

Our overall DriveBench score underscores once again that the SSDs are in a different class than the new VelociRaptor. The VR200M is still notably quicker than its predecessor and even faster still than the Caviar Black, but those margins aren’t anywhere close to the leads enjoyed by our two SSDs.

The results of our individual tests are quite similar, with the background file copy being the one exception. With that workload, the mechanical drives are considerably more competitive, although only because the solid-state drives achieve much lower throughput than with the other workloads. Also worth noting: the VR200M has a larger lead over the mechanical pack with background file copying and virus scans than it does with the other workloads.

When creating these multitasking workloads, I decided to cut out the background tests completely for a control test. These control scores aren’t included in our overall average, but they do confirm that taking multitasking out of the equation doesn’t change the standings.

DriveBench also lets us start recording Windows sessions from the moment the storage driver loads during the boot process. We can use this capability to take another look at boot times, again assuming our infinitely fast system. For this boot test, I configured Windows to launch TweetDeck, Pidgin, AVG, Word, Excel, Acrobat, and Photoshop on startup.

The VelociRaptor wins another one against mechanical competition—but loses out again to the SSDs.

IOMeter
IOMeter presents a good test case for both seek times and command queuing. The app’s ability to bombard drives with an escalating number of concurrent IO requests also does a nice job of simulating the sort of demanding multi-user environments that are common in enterprise applications.

The highly randomized access patterns of our IOMeter loads give the SSDs a huge advantage. Near-instantaneous seeks are tough to beat.

Of course, the SSDs also consume more CPU cycles while generating those frightening transaction rates. The SSDs are no less efficient than the mechanical drives if you quantify the results in terms of IOs per percent CPU utilization, though.

IOMeter – No SSDs
Having SSDs in the mix really distorts our IOMeter graphs, so we’ve omitted them for another look at the results.

As you can see, the new VelociRaptor has a pronounced lead over the Caviar Black 2TB, which is very similar to Western Digital’s enterprise-class RE4. The new Raptor isn’t much faster than the old one here, but given the similar access times between the two, we didn’t expect it to be.

IOMeter registers less than 0.5% CPU utilization on our Core i5-750 with each mechanical drive.

Noise levels

Noise levels were measured with a TES-52 Digital Sound Level meter 1″ from the side of the drives at idle and under an HD Tune seek load. Drives were run with the PCB facing up.

Our noise level and power consumption tests were conducted with the drives connected to the motherboard’s P55 storage controller.

Solid-state drives are silent, so the noise levels you see for the X25-M and Nova represent the noise generated by the rest of the system. The VelociRaptor is pretty quiet at idle, adding less than five decibels to the system baseline. However, the VR200M is much louder than the original when seeking, and the chattering is nearly as loud as what’s generated by the notoriously noisy Caviar Black 2TB.

Most mechanical hard drives have an Automatic Acoustic Management (AAM) value that can be set between 128 and 254. Manipulating this setting tends not to affect idle noise levels, but it can dramatically impact seek noise and access times. To get an idea of the sort of performance and acoustic range available with our collection of mechanical drives, we’ve tested the seek noise level and random access time of each at the extremes of the AAM scale. By default, both of the VelociRaptors and the Caviar Black have their AAM values set to 254.

Although there’s little difference in seek times between the two VelociRaptors, the VR150M is definitely the quieter of the two. At its loudest, the original has the same seek noise levels as the new drive at its quietest. That result isn’t entirely unexpected given the fact that the VR200M is packing an extra platter. Drives with more platters tend to be louder than those with fewer.

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. We were able to calculate the power draw from each voltage rail and add them together for the total power draw of the drive. Drives were tested while idling and under an IOMeter load consisting of 256 outstanding I/O requests using the workstation access pattern.

The new VelociRaptor consumes a little more power than the VR150M at idle, but the two are pretty even under load. Both are more power-efficient than the Caviar Black 2TB, but neither comes close to matching the frugal power draw of the two SSDs.

Capacity per dollar

After spending seven pages rifling through a stack of performance graphs, it might seem odd to have just a single chart set aside for capacity. After all, the amount of data that can be stored on a hard drive is no less important than how fast that data can be accessed. But one graph is really all we need to express how these drives stack up in terms of their capacity, and more specifically, how many bytes each of your hard-earned dollars might actually buy.

We took drive prices from Newegg to establish an even playing field for all the contenders. Mail-in rebates weren’t included in our calculations, and since the VR200M isn’t for sale online yet, we had to use its suggested retail price of $329. Rather than relying on manufacturer-claimed capacities, we gauged each drive’s capacity by creating an actual Windows 7 partition and recording the total number of bytes reported by the OS. Having little interest in the GB/GiB debate, I simply took that byte total, divided by a Giga (109), and then by the price. The result is capacity per dollar that, at least literally, is reflected in gigabytes.

We’ve spent the last few pages watching the VelociRaptor get smacked around by a couple of SSDs, but there’s more to this drive than just performance. With 600GB under the hood, the VR200M has a lot more capacity than current-generation SSDs, and it costs a heck of a lot less per gigabyte. The new VelociRaptor even offers a more attractive cost per gigabyte than the old VR150M.

Of course, the Caviar Black still has the best cost per gigabyte of the bunch. With two terabytes bursting from its 3.5″ seams and a sub-$300 street price, we wouldn’t have expected anything less.

Conclusions

One might look at the VelociRaptor’s name next to the growing number of solid-state drives entering the market and conclude that the VR200M is already a dinosaur. Indeed, the substantial performance advantage enjoyed by the Corsair and Intel SSDs in many of our performance tests would seem to confirm the notion that flash-based storage is destined to push performance-oriented mechanical hard drives into extinction. Even the VelociRaptor’s once-fearsome 10k-RPM spindle speed is no match for near-instant seek times afforded by silicon-based storage, and when you factor in the lower power consumption and nonexistent noise levels inherent to SSDs, writing off the VR200M would be easy.

Don’t dismiss it too quickly, though. The new VelociRaptor may not be able to keep up with SSDs in some areas, but it does have a substantial edge on the capacity front. Starting today, the 600GB version of the VR200M is slated to sell for $329, with 450GB flavor ringing in at $299. In both cases, you’re getting a lot more capacity per dollar than any SSD out there. You’re also getting more than enough storage for an operating system, applications, plenty of games, and loads of other files. Try managing that with a 128GB SSD.

Solid-state drives may own the performance segment of the storage market some day, but they’re still pricey enough to leave plenty of room for the VelociRaptor to flourish. Unlike SSDs, the VR200M isn’t bound by limited write-erase cycles, so it’s well-suited to enterprise applications that write a lot of data. SLC-based flash drives with ten times the write-erase endurance of the MLC-based models familiar to PC enthusiasts are even more expensive than consumer-grade SSDs, further solidifying the VelociRaptor’s cost advantage.

The VR200M’s attractive cost per gigabyte is central to its appeal over SSDs. Whether the additional storage is worth more to you than potentially much faster performance, quieter noise levels, and lower power consumption depends entirely on what sort of environment you have planned for the drive. That environment will also determine whether the VelociRaptor is worth stepping up from a 7,200-RPM drive that offers a lot more storage for a good deal less money.

Ultimately, then, the VR200M rests between traditional desktop drives and SSDs, which just so happens to be where it sat throughout the results of our performance testing. The new VelociRaptor may not be the world beater that its predecessors were, but it’s fast enough to leave lesser mechanical drives in the dust while packing enough capacity to give prospective SSD buyers pause. I still think the ideal enthusiast desktop pairs a high-performance SSD with a slow, low-power hard drive for mass storage. However, that’s still an expensive setup, and one could employ a VR200M in place of the SSD for those who need a large amount of data accessible on their high-performance drive.

Only time well tell whether the Raptor line will endure beyond the VR200M, and we may have to wait another two years to find out. In the meantime, Western Digital’s own SSDs are likely to make the storage market even more inhospitable for a family of drives that has long been an enthusiast favorite.

Comments closed
    • LoneWolf15
    • 9 years ago

    I’m posting to an old discussion thread, I know, but…

    I bought one of these. First off, the price (when the drives have been available) has been $279, not $299 or $329. I got another $5 back with Bing Cashback.

    SSD’s are cool indeed. However, $279 would buy me an entry-level 128GB boot drive. I need more capacity.

    Some would say –Okay, then buy a 1TB or 2TB 7200rpm drive for a lot less. For storage, I did –I bought one of the newest Caviar Black 1TB drives, with two 500GB platters, and a 64MB cache. It’s fast as 7200rpm drives go, but the Raptor beats it in every way.

    Compared to my three Seagate 7200.10 500GB drives in RAID-5, boot times with the `Raptor are roughly 20% faster. The `Raptor is also faster at disk access when doing multitasking that is I/O intensive.

    Neither the `Raptor or the Caviar Black can be heard above the noise of my case fans (low-to-medium noise) during heavy disk access. They are far quieter than my Seagates were.

    When a 256GB or 512GB SSD is available in the $300 price range, I’ll think about it. Until then, I’m happy with my choice.

    • just brew it!
    • 9 years ago

    I’m surprised at all the negativity regarding this product.

    Yes, it’s expensive for a mechanical hard drive. Yes it’s slower than an SSD. But as the review clearly indicates, it has certain advantages over both.

    RAIDing a pair of Blacks does /[

    • Sir Sagamore
    • 9 years ago
      • indeego
      • 9 years ago

      That really helps its capacity per dollar, puts it at roughly half of the Caviar Black.

      This is a great drive compromising between an SSD and a mechanicalg{<.<}g An example of a desktop setup: 1)SSD for boot/profile and your most frequent apps, 2) VelociRaptor for the rest of your apps/data, and a 3) Large Caviar for Large/Infrequent use Mediag{<.<}g

    • srg86
    • 9 years ago

    Thanks for introducing the compile test. Very interesting that the SSDs weren’t that much faster than mechanical drives. In my own experience, CPU performance matters greatly for compile times, which is why I’d like to see this test in the CPU benchmarks. Once the instability problem is sorted out of course.

    • emorgoch
    • 9 years ago

    Just noticing that on NewEgg.ca today, they’ve got the 600GB version listd for $289. That does bring it down to a price point that makes a real compelling reason to not go with an SSD.

    • jhm
    • 9 years ago

    Nothing to add except i7-750 is listed in Testing Method instead of i5-750 under which the test was actually done(?)

    • Convert
    • 9 years ago

    The warranty is void if you remove it from the sled?

    I guess that makes sense…

      • bimmerlovere39
      • 9 years ago

      If you’re going to take it out of the sled, you might as well just buy it sledless, no?

        • Joel H.
        • 9 years ago

        You’ve never actually removed one of those drives from its sled, have you? Either you’ve got annoyingly specialized screwdrivers (think starburst pattern with a hollow tip) or you’ve got a dremel. I had the latter. It was fun times.

    • mrksha
    • 9 years ago

    Your intel results are wrong. A lot of readers , including myself, can run hd tune on the same intel drive with much better results.

    I’d recommned you to pull review till you figure what you’ve messed up.

      • ew
      • 9 years ago

      ZOMG STOP THE PRESSES!!! A different system got different result.

    • wira020
    • 9 years ago

    I hope 1 day TR will make an article about short stroking or partitoned drives… i do wonder how would say, 2TB WD black using only 200gb partition compare to the velociraptor….

    Btw, i think due to the increase of area density and platter size, bigger capacity drives are the better choice…. even when compared to these 10k rpm drives…

    Edit: Is 2TB our limit until the next OS version? or can we partition a 3tb drive to make it bootable?

    p/s: I didnt know double post is possible, sorry bout that.. internet connection kinda suck right now… dc dc dc…

    • wira020
    • 9 years ago

    I hope 1 day TR will make an article about short stroking or partitoned drives… i do wonder how would say, 2TB WD black using only 200gb partition compare to the velociraptor….

    Btw, i think due to the increase of area density and platter size, bigger capacity drives are the better choice…. even when compared to these 10k rpm drives…

      • flip-mode
      • 9 years ago

      Short stroking FTW.

        • MadManOriginal
        • 9 years ago

        That’s what she said!

          • 5150
          • 9 years ago

          That’s what your mom said.

            • indeego
            • 9 years ago

            yo momma short stroke so much the left side of her face is immobile, beaaaatchg{

    • Freon
    • 9 years ago

    This is nothing more than an evolutionary increase over the old Velociraptor. I don’t get it. It’s still a mechanical drive and doesn’t really close the gap on the areas where SSDs dominate.

    For $329, I’d sooner recommend getting a 30-60GB SSD (Vertex or Kingston -V) and a 640GB WD Black in conjunction. For triple the price of a performance 1TB 7200rpm drive I’d expect more.

    • indeego
    • 9 years ago

    Passive graphics card, but no passive power supply, CPU/case/etc? It would be great to have the storage platform completely quiet except for any mechanical drive you are testing. Also with your boot/system drive being mechanical, doesn’t that interfere?

    g{

      • wira020
      • 9 years ago

      I’m guessing that passive graphic card would still need sufficient airflow.. right?

        • indeego
        • 9 years ago

        For HDD benchmarks? Probably onboard would be good enough.

        I understand replicating the two scenarios: 1)what a “typical user” might have, (i.e. common fans in a common case,) and 2)Removing all ambient noise (a.k.a. a “silent PC”) to get the best “HDD only” score, but I don’t understand the logic of a passive Graphics card (the assumption that it doesn’t interfere with noise tests,) and other components that /[

      • Dissonance
      • 9 years ago

      We test noise levels with only one hard drive connected to the system–the drive being tested. As for the other components, the PSU and CPU cooler we have for these systems are pretty quiet, especially with the CPU fan turned down to its lowest setting.

    • Vaughn
    • 9 years ago

    What is up with the intel numbers on this review?

    • Chrispy_
    • 9 years ago

    I’m still waiting for my hybrid.

    If I have a bunch of files ranging from 4KB to 4GB, I’d be dumb to put all files on either one drive or the other. A 4GB file belongs on a mechanical disk like this raptor. Sure, sequential isn’t quite as good as some SSD’s, but it’s at least in the same order of magnitude.

    And yes, those 350 files of less than 16KB each belong on the SSD and you sure wouldn’t want to wait for that mechanical head to add it’s 8ms delay to every file. Why wait 3 seconds for what an SSD can do in 1/20th of a second? Mulitply that workload and it’s 3 minutes for the platter and 3 seconds for the SSD.

    So, controller designers. Here’s what I want, and I’m quite frankly staggered that I haven’t seen it yet:

    Incoming file goes to (SSD) drive controller which caches it.
    If file in cache reaches, say 4MB, stream it onto a the mechanical storage controller and place a marker for such on the SSD’s allocation table. If the file ends up being less than 512K, stick it into the usual SSD logic and cache it ready for a solid-state write as per usual.

    That way, I get /[

      • mboza
      • 9 years ago

      Does the drive have enough knowledge of the file system to do this? You also assume that you always read large files linearly, and the large file that you read most often is probably your page file, which you almost certainly want on the SSD.

      It is probably sufficient just to use the SSD as cache for the big slow disk, like ReadyBoost, especially if your cache algorithm can recognise the big files that are streamed sequentially.

    • d0g_p00p
    • 9 years ago

    Very nice drive but too expensive. I am glad to see that storage is finally getting a boost. SSD’s, 1+ TB drives and 10K RPM models are all very nice.

    Right now I am using a pair of 400GB 10K SAS drives for main system storage and a pair of SSD’s for boot and apps drive. I can see upgrading my storage in a couple of years when things have gotten a little cheaper. If the price was about $100 less I would be snatching up a couple of Raptors. to replace my SAS drives and controller.

    • indeego
    • 9 years ago

    On a fresh XP SP3 build, my Intel and OCZ SSD boot times are between 25-30 seconds to desktop, no hourglass, on 4 year-old systems. What kind of crazy BIOS screens do you have loadingg{?}g

      • Helmore
      • 9 years ago

      That is the reason why I would like to see a comparison of boot times between different motherboards. I hope that in the future all motherboards have a time to POST of under 3 seconds, that way booting up your PC should be possible in under 20 seconds.

    • Sunburn74
    • 9 years ago

    Hmm… something is wrong with your test methods. I think you failed to enable write caching on the intel x-25m drives because my burst speeds are in the 2000mb/s range. Not kidding.

    You’re using Microsofts AHCI? I dunno man… i dunno. You’re off an order of magnitude for burst speed man 🙁

    • christopher3393
    • 9 years ago

    I’m wondering about the noise levels of the 2.5 version without the Icy Dock. I have the old VelociRaptor 300 with the Icy Dock removed and it is barely audible during seeks. Silent PC Review ran tests on a soft-mounted one and verified how much quieter the drive is without the dock, and in a case with good airflow the heat was not a problem.

    The additional platter will probably add additional noise, but it may be insignificant or at least significantly reduced in another enclosure.

    • fqv
    • 9 years ago

    Way too pricey, considering how you can get both a small SSD and a large HDD for the same price as the VelociRaptor I too find the Recommended stamp very odd.

    The author do touch on the subject of pairing an SSD with a HDD but I would have had the author expand that single-liner to a whole paragraph explaining how you can get much more value for your money if only you realise you can use more than one drive in a desktop computer.

    • OneArmedScissor
    • 9 years ago

    Eeeew, I figured it used 300GB platters and would just replace the current drives at the same prices.

    This is so silly as a desktop drive. The high cost ruins the only advantage, which was being cheaper than a SSD and HDD combined.

    They must be having serious trouble getting anything but slow drives to work with increasing density. I bet we start seeing sub-5,000 RPM 3.5″ drives before too long. Not that that’s a problem for 3TB+ storage drives, but I guess we can’t expect to be able to copy much faster than 100MB/s. Lots of good that USB 3.0 will do unless you’re going from SSD to SSD…

    • grantmeaname
    • 9 years ago

    l[

    • Ryhadar
    • 9 years ago

    Maybe a stupid question but: If the platter density is 200GB how do they make a 450GB model?

      • no51
      • 9 years ago

      Different platters maybe? 3×150 is my guess instead of 3×200.

      • murtle
      • 9 years ago

      Yes, 3x150GB platter for 450GB version.

      Edit: I just informed last minute.

        • wira020
        • 9 years ago

        Wouldnt that degrade performance somehow? kinda unbalanced…

          • murtle
          • 9 years ago

          Sorry, I’ve miscalculated before. You right about that 2×200 plus 100 is going to be 500 GB in total 😉

          3x150GB platter is perfectly fitting to performance profile.

    • 5150
    • 9 years ago

    I love me some storage reviews. Thanks!

    • Ushio01
    • 9 years ago

    I have to disagree with the criticism of SSD’s on a capacity basis as it is quite possible to go out and purchase 512GB 2.5″ SSD’s today.

      • Lazier_Said
      • 9 years ago

      At $1,400 those large SSDs may as well not exist as far as the consumer segment is concerned.

        • burntham77
        • 9 years ago

        Even “hardcore” PC users, such as high end gamers, find 1400 dollars to be completely out of the question for one drive. Luckily the 128 gig SSDs are getting close to reasonable.

        • Ushio01
        • 9 years ago

        I was talking about available capacity of SSD’s price is irrelevant to my point.

          • OneArmedScissor
          • 9 years ago

          Lol…price is always relevant because we always have to pay it.

    • TravelMug
    • 9 years ago

    I’d be curious how the new drive compares to a 500GB platter 7200RPM 1TB or 1.5TB Caviar Blacks if those are short stroked to 30% of the capacity. That way you get near linear transfer speeds through the whole partition and your access times are significantly lower as well. For the third of the price of the new drive.

      • d0g_p00p
      • 9 years ago

      Short stroking drives is a joke. You need multiple drives, a expensive RAID controller and at best using only 30% of total disk space. I honestly don’t know anyone who would go that route vs getting SSD’s, these Raptors or setting up a traditional RAID array. The time, effort, money and complexity is just too much for what you gain.

        • MadManOriginal
        • 9 years ago

        You can short-stroke a single drive just by partitioning it upon OS install.

        • TravelMug
        • 9 years ago

        Why would you need multiple drives? A 500GB platter 7200RPM 1TB drive for under $100 set to use only 20-30% capacity will give you the same 200-300GB capacity as the older VelociRaptor drives, 125-150 MB/s transfer speeds (min-max) and under 10ms latency. So the only thing you lose compared to the $200+ is the latency values whych might be completely insignificant in real world tests as those differences are relatively small even in this test between the VR200M and the Caviar 2TB.

        Yes, you can say “but this is 450GB not 300GB” and you would be right. Just at what cost difference. $100 vs. $300 is a lot.

        • Chrispy_
        • 9 years ago

        You could argue that Raptors are basically short-stroked 7200RPM drive tech anyway.

        They increase the rotational speed and then use smaller diameter platters. The only advantage is the physically shorter, lighter heads which helps with reduced seeking times.

        I used to short-stroke most of my OS drives by 50%. It sounds nuts, but wasted capacity is irrelevant when the cost per GB of 7200RPM drives is so low, and even the 640GB drives I was RAIDing were giving me a 640GB OS partitions.

    • odizzido
    • 9 years ago

    This is probably the most highly evolved mechanical raptor we will ever see. Perhaps they will evolve into birSSDs?

      • Chrispy_
      • 9 years ago

      *groan*

      At least you tried….

    • SubSeven
    • 9 years ago

    I just don’t understand how this thing can get recommended for $300? The selling argument in this review is that it offers more space than a SSD and offers a better price/dollar? Give me a break. This maybe true when compared to a SSD but like you said, this drive is a “dinosaur” (pun intended) and as such, is unworthy to be compared to a SSD (despite it’s impressive performance). The only thing this drive shares in common with SSDs is an obscene price tag. Sure the Rapor maybe faster than the 640 Black (but by how much? 10%? 15%? if even that much) but it also costs some 300% more and still has less space…

    Like someone else said, two 640 blacks in raid make a far more compelling bargain and will perform faster (if this is what you are looking for). I said it before and I say it again, there is nothing about this drive that is recommend worthy, at least not at the current price tag.

    I understand that WD was generous to provide the HDs and all but that doesn’t mean that TR should abandon the integrity I have respected for so long. Very disappointing….

      • Gerbil Jedidiah
      • 9 years ago

      Whoah now, no need to make accusations towards TechReport, especially since you have no clue what you are talking about.

      • Ryu Connor
      • 9 years ago

      Except RAID-0 only really improves transfer rates. Making your comparison a flawed apple to oranges. There are other performance characteristics to consider.

        • SubSeven
        • 9 years ago

        You are right. But the point still stands. Even if compared to a single 640 black (that goes for about $70) these days, this new Raptor simply horrible considering its price; and to recommend it at this price, in my opinion, is folly at best.

          • flip-mode
          • 9 years ago

          Not seeing eye to eye with the author’s stance does not automatically justify questioning the author’s integrity. Unless you have more substantial grounds for that sort of insinuation, it is really inappropriate.

          I don’t agree with the “Recommended” stamp either.

            • pullmyfoot
            • 9 years ago

            If the 450gb drive sold at $200 instead of $299 I can see a lot of people buying it (myself included, in fact I would place an order right now). But at that price it makes more sense to buy a damn 128gig SSD and a 1/2TB caviar green for space.

            • Joel H.
            • 9 years ago

            Looks like an awesome drive. True, there are better SSDs, but the truly fast ones (ie, the ones that smash HDDs into butt dust in all areas) are still too expensive.

            High-end HDDs have always carried a premium. Let’s not get too carried away by the SSD label as opposed to the practicalities of day-to-day performance.

            • MadManOriginal
            • 9 years ago

            Yeah the recommended stamp seems pretty silly in this case. SSDs aren’t *quite* there yet to do a SSD+HDD combo and get good OS/program space (some people are fine with 60-80GB though) but once the new flash processes ramp up that will be the hot enthusiast setup: 120-160GB SSD+whatever size HD you need for media and mass storage.

        • cygnus1
        • 9 years ago

        Making his analogy a bit better: Don’t even think about RAID 0. 2 640 Blacks in RAID 1 (mirrored) would give substantially better avg seek performance than the Raptor, would give you redundancy, and a very slight capacity edge. All for less than half the 600GB raptor. 4 640 Blacks in RAID 0+1 (striped mirrors) would improve on all performance aspects and double the capacity and you’d still be $50 cheaper than a single 600GB raptor.

        All of that is all well and good in a home desktop environment. However, in any sort of environment where productivity and uptime are worth the additional cost, the raptor will win anytime. TLER and RAFF are critical features in those environments, and the Black drives have neither of them.

          • KGA_ATT
          • 9 years ago

          These Raptor’s would win anytime in an environment that demands productivity, up-time and RAID? Perhaps in smaller companies or those with budget restraints. Perhaps those without professional grade storage design/topologies may look at these WD products, but SCSI(yep its still around),SAS and Fiber still are the defacto standard for Tier1 and Tier2 storage solutions. Some other solutions may have iScsi and the like but those are integrated in fringe scenarios. Like for a workgroup or some department basis.

          I must say WD caught many by surprise with these products. I can’t see where they fit in other than with enthusiasts who want fast entry level storage(600MB would qualify). I’d still take the Seagate Cheetah 600MB 10K SAS product simply because Wide Port/Duplex/Multipath Failover features as well as a slightly higher MTBF of 1.6 hours to the Raptor 1.4. And if you have a decent source you can find them for $380-plus dollar range.

      • ModernPrimitive
      • 9 years ago

      I could almost see giving 150 dollars (and that’s stretching it for the peformance gain…) for the 600GB but that’s me. If anyone else wants to buy 20 of them, RAID them, make ashtrays out of them, make gyros for theirs 90 year old wife’s bra…. knock yerseffs out.

        • Sunburn74
        • 9 years ago

        I agree. Marginal performance increases over the WD caviar black 640gb, and triple the cost. Don’t see how you can recommend this drive in that light.

          • KGA_ATT
          • 9 years ago

          I’d actually like to see that performance comparison. Three WD Caviar Black 640GB with the new 6GB/s interface in Raid 0 vs the WD VelociRaptor 600GB 10k rpm with the new 6GB/s interface. They are about at the same price, however you would be getting considerably more capacity from the 640 Caviar Black drives in Raid 0.

          Some tech site will probably take up such a challenge, I’ll keep my eyes out on that review.

          I think WD really ‘skimped’ on features that the VelociRaptor could have come with to make it a uniquely compelling product with all the other competitive products on the market today.

    • ModernPrimitive
    • 9 years ago

    Good review and thanks. I thought I was disappointed until I saw the price. Then I realized I didn’t know what disappointment was… haha. If I were building a new tower and wanted fast platterage I’ll RAID 0 two 640GB or the new 750GB WD’s for cheap.

      • SubSeven
      • 9 years ago

      +1. Agree 100%

    • rUmX
    • 9 years ago

    I think you meant 128GB SSD instead of 128MB in the conclusion. Otherwise, great review!

    • Helmore
    • 9 years ago

    I think the most interesting part of the review was this phrase: “I know what you’re thinking: but what about newer SSDs like Crucial’s RealSSD C300 and all that new SandForce-based hotness that was on display at CES? Expect these and other SSDs, including fresh entries from *[

    • anotherengineer
    • 9 years ago

    hmmm 600 GB for 330 doesnt sound too bad, however I think I would cough up an extra 200 and get an SLC SSD.

    And some queit mech hdd for storage.

    The price premium over my WD 640GB blacks ($70 now?) just doesnt cut it.
    Almost 5 times the cost for 1.25 times the performance, pass on that.

    Good review though, I guess AMD isnt the only one with AHCI issues then??

    • Jigar
    • 9 years ago

    Hell with Velocraptor, look at that Nova SSD.

      • CheetoPet
      • 9 years ago

      Totally. I know this was a Raptor review and all but its impressive the gains the Indy controller has made over time. Can’t wait for sandforce en-mass.

    • Krogoth
    • 9 years ago

    High-RPM HDDs are already obsolete. SSDs destroy them where they were once king. Mainstream HDDs are almost as fast while offering a far better $$$$/GB ratio.

    There is no point in getting them. The only potential buyers are PHB-types that still insist that SSDs are not “ready” yet.

      • danny e.
      • 9 years ago

      SSD’s are not “ready” yet. Expensive and too low of capacity. SSD price drop per capacity / year is > 40%. That’s a large chunk of money to write off to depreciation.

        • MadManOriginal
        • 9 years ago

        His point is that high-RPM drives are dead. SSDs are just one part of that, the performance of 7200RPM high density platter drives is the other.

          • danny e.
          • 9 years ago

          I sit corrected.

            • MadManOriginal
            • 9 years ago

            Well I do agree with you about the pricing but that’s just because 60-80GB drives aren’t quite big enough to me. When the next flash shrink comes as you alluded to with the >40% price drops that will be the real nail in the coffin for high RPM drives.

            • Krogoth
            • 9 years ago

            It is plenty of capacity for applications and areas where access speed and multi-user loads matters.

            The majority of mainstream applications are CPU-bounded in in their load time. The benefits of SSDs are minimal at best over mainstream HDDs. It is akin to what the 10K and 15K HDDs were back when they were the kings of I/O world. The users that benefit form their superior access speed found them worth the premium, while mainstream solutions made more sense for the majority of users.

            • MadManOriginal
            • 9 years ago

            Hey, thanks for telling me 60-80GB is plenty of capacity. I’m off to buy an SSD now that I’ve been told how much capacity is good for me! :/

            As far as SSDs only being niche as well, no. The thing is high RPM drives were notably superior when lower RPM drives sucked. Lower RPM drives no longer do suck so high RPM drives have little advantage left over them. The same is not true for the better SSDs versus mechanical drives.

            • danny e.
            • 9 years ago

            hahaha right. You obviously don’t do real work on your desktop if that’s enough space for you.
            Even if you were gaming, it’d be enough for what.. 2 or 3 games?

            • Krogoth
            • 9 years ago

            Games don’t benefit much from being on SSD, because their load time is mostly bounded by the CPU. The TR test suite makes this pretty clear. SSDs are only faster because of the faster access speed. Despite that that fact, it only cuts the load time by a few seconds over mainstream HDDs.

            • OneArmedScissor
            • 9 years ago

            SSDs can make a substantial difference in minimum FPS, at least in some games.

            • MadManOriginal
            • 9 years ago

            Don’t worry, once Kroger gets an SSD himself it will be all positives and no negatives 😉

            • Krogoth
            • 9 years ago

            Are you smoking something?

            Minimal FPS is almost always caused by the video card when it gets taxed.

            If your I/O is causing framerate issues. You got bigger problems. You are running out of VRAM on the video card and system memory to fit texture data that couldn’t fit on the video card’s VRAM.

            I surprised that you are willing to put with the constant hic-ups + disk-trashing. The only kind of system that would that problem is something that is over six years old. I think a complete overhaul is in order. 😉

            • ClickClick5
            • 9 years ago

            I’m still giving SSDs about another two years before I buy. A 128GB for about $80 (when possible) will be my buy target. Else, I’ll stay with my raptors, where I can write almost as fast as I read.

            • Krogoth
            • 9 years ago

            That is why getting a video card with sufficient video memory is more important then getting an faster I/O for gaming.

            SSDs still cannot beat video card’s memory subsystem for latency and bandwidth.

            • UberGerbil
            • 9 years ago

            If game load times were bound by the CPU, we’d expect to see little difference in the results for different disks, assuming they were all fast enough to be limited by the CPU. Yet in one case the Nova turned in a time that was a good 10 seconds faster than any of the others, and in fact cut the total load time almost in half. That’s not what I’d expect to see if the CPU was gating the results.

            It may be true that in some games, or in some levels for some games, the load time is bound by the CPU. But I’m not sure we should be making such a broad assertion that loads are “mostly bounded” by the CPU. The reality is more complex and nuanced than that; I think it will be interesting to see what happens as faster and faster SSDs show up. It may turn out that it’s actually memory allocation (and spillage to the page file) that is bounding things in some games (on typical machines with 4GB of memory), and SSDs with their low random access latency are therefore winning because they are better at simultaneously reading in the level data and writing out to the page file. I don’t know. I just know there’s a benchmark result in this review that makes me doubt that CPU-bounding is the end of the story.

            • Krogoth
            • 9 years ago

            That was only in Modern Warfare 2. I am curious what is going on with that one. The Intel SSDs weren’t that much faster than their HDD counterparts in this instance.

            The other results were pretty close. SSD’s advantage in access time does show, but it only shaves off a few seconds over HDD competition. It is up to the potential buyer if the SSD premium is worth those few seconds.

            CPU is still the king in game load time, because games are still programs at heart. Programs have load up all necessary libraries, extract the raw data from files, recompile the raw data into a usable format and finally move the “completed” data into memory. I/O does somewhat matter with extraction part and moving data into memory. Once the “completed” data is all into memory, I/O takes a big backstep. That is why reloading game states or reloading the same level take far less time then the first run. That is assuming it can all fit into memory.

            I have several anecdotal stories where systems that had a faster I/O subsystem (Raptors and high-end 7200RPM) were loading games slower than systems that had a beefier CPU, but inferior I/O (vanilla 7200RPM and 5400RPM HDD). Just my .02 cents.

            • indeego
            • 9 years ago

            [/offtopic] speaking of load times, check out Just Cause 2. Sort’ve a Crysis clone, (except actually runs and is GORGEOUS, AND the game loads in about 6-10 seconds! Very impressive. The game is extremely stable (I’ve gotten about 80 hours in so far since release and not a single crash, and I’ve done frequent Alt+Tab’s to other programs.)

            g{

            • OneArmedScissor
            • 9 years ago

            That’s one heck of a sweeping generalization. “Real work” could be just about anything, but one thing it surely isn’t is storing a terrabyte of things you pirated.

            I use ten different computers for “real work” on a regular basis, for several different things, and not a single one of them needs more than a 60GB drive. All but two of them don’t need more than a 30GB drive.

            The two that use more than 30GB only do because they have peoples’ personal files on them, and yet, they’re still under 60GB.

            If it really is for serious work, it should be for nothing else and should not need hardly any of its own space.

            Even if you do something that produces large files, they had better be backed up onto something very safe, which makes permanently storing anything you’re not working on not only pointless, but possibly even dangerous.

            • UberGerbil
            • 9 years ago

            It’s true that in many, probably most work situations, the vast majority of data resides on a server or at least a NAS. However, there are jobs that deal with processing hundreds of GB of data locally. The most obvious is probably video. Edit Suites for video NLE typically require hundreds of GB (if not more) for temporary just-what-I’m-working-on-right-now storage — since they’re working with uncompressed (and increasingly HD) video. It’s usually in some sort of RAID form but I’ve seen systems where they just run JBOD or even RAID-0 and take their chances. (The permanent storage is of course a different story in terms of both redundancy and capacity). Your typical AVID workstation is going to have more than 1TB of local disk space, and regularly use most of it.

            • OneArmedScissor
            • 9 years ago

            I don’t think the small handful of not only extremely specific fields of work, but extremely specific scenarios within certain fields of work, are what Mr. Real Work was referring to. :p

            I believe the point was that a 60-80GB SSD is actually plenty for what the SSD needs to be used for, and it’s not necessary to spend hundreds more on a 120GB+ drive to receive the full benefit.

            • derFunkenstein
            • 9 years ago

            Yeah, “real work” seems to be one of the few uses for which a small SSD would fit the bill.

    • porov
    • 9 years ago

    It’s very nice hard disk for a great value but it has no chance against ssd’s in the noise/power area.

    • flip-mode
    • 9 years ago

    VelociRaptor is dead. I would never, ever want one. The Caviar Black 2TB if I want lots of storage, and SSD if I want lots of speed. The VelociRaptor is lost in a neutral zone of sorts.

    By the way, what’s that heatsink picture doing in the gallery?

      • JustAnEngineer
      • 9 years ago

      It’s cooling the Ci5-750 in the new test bed. RTFA?

        • flip-mode
        • 9 years ago

        Ah ha. I skipped to the results.

          • ssidbroadcast
          • 9 years ago

          Bad form, flip.

      • theboltski
      • 9 years ago

      i was really looking forward to this. the price is the killer as far as i’m concerned. $300 US for the 450GB version is 100 more than i thought it might be.

      And also, it’s not competing with SSD drives. it’s competing with 500GB cheap drives in raid 0, which i’m sad to say offer much better performance and price.

      in fact, i could get 2 WD caviar black 1TB drives for almost half the cost.

      • StashTheVampede
      • 9 years ago

      Near-enterprise storage called and they are fine with this drive for the mean time.

      When you throw dozens of drives in a cage, offer significant storage capacity at very high performance at a lower price point than SSD or fiber, you’re still looking at spinning platter drives for years to come.

        • flip-mode
        • 9 years ago

        The called meme called and wants its called meme back. There’s a niche for everything. I’d wager the niche for this drive is pretty small to start and will only get smaller. I’d wager this drive won’t sell very well. People who have the money and have the need for dozens of drives will still be struck by the fact that this drive is master of nothing. Not space. Not speed. Not power consumption.

          • bhtooefr
          • 9 years ago

          However, it’s a quite good combination of price, speed, and capacity.

          And, remember, this is essentially a server drive. Servers pack a bunch of 2.5″ drives nowadays.

          • StashTheVampede
          • 9 years ago

          For your desktop needs, it surely doesn’t fit into anything you want/use.

          Our SAN has both fiber and SATA cages — the fiber is for mission critical anything (while sacrificing capacity) and the SATA is for pure storage (none of which are 7200rpm drives). Desktop 7200pm drives aren’t meant to take the beating these kinds of drives will endure.

          • MadManOriginal
          • 9 years ago

          Old meme is old?

      • BobbinThreadbare
      • 9 years ago

      In the real world tests, the Raptors often keep up with the SSDs, and offer much better capacity per dollar.

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