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Our testing methods
We have a full suite of performance results for literally dozens of different drives, but today, we've narrowed the field to focus largely on how the VelociRaptor's performance compares to mechanical alternatives. The only drive that's really comparable to the new VelociRaptor is its predecessor, the VR200M, which we've tested alongside a selection of 7,200-RPM desktop models. We've also thrown in a handful of 2.5" notebook drives, including two generations of Seagate's Momentus XT hybrids, which combine mechanical platters with NAND caches.

Since the VelociRaptor 1TB is set to cost $320, we couldn't resist adding a handful of SSDs in the same price range. We've included four 240-256GB models based on some of the most popular controller configurations on the market right now. Our testing methods and systems haven't changed, so the VelociRaptor's scores can be compared to those in any of our storage reviews dating back to last September.

If you're familiar with our test methods and hardware, the rest of this page is filled with nerdy details you already know; feel free to skip ahead to the benchmark results. For the rest of you, we've summarized the essential characteristics of all the drives we've tested in the table below.

  Interface Cache Spindle speed Areal density Flash controller NAND
Corsair Force Series 3 240GB 6Gbps NA NA NA SandForce SF-2281 25-nm Micron async MLC
Corsair Force Series GT 240GB 6GBps NA NA NA SandForce SF-2281 25-nm Intel sync MLC
Crucial m4 256GB 6Gbps 256MB NA NA Marvell 88SS9174 25-nm Micron sync MLC
Samsung 830 Series 256GB 6GBps 256MB NA NA Samsung S4LJ204X01 2x-nm Samsung Toggle DDR
Hitachi Deskstar 7K3000 3TB 6Gbps 64MB 7,200 RPM 411 Gb/in² NA NA
Seagate Barracuda 3TB 6Gbps 64MB 7,200 RPM 625 Gb/in² NA NA
Seagate Momentus 5400.4 25GB 3Gbps 8MB 5,400 RPM 204 Gb/in² NA NA
Seagate Momentus XT 500GB 3Gbps 32MB 7,200 RPM 394 Gb/in² NA* 4GB SLC
Seagate Momentus XT 750GB 6Gbps 32MB 7,200 RPM 541 Gb/in² NA* 8GB SLC
WD Caviar Black 1TB 6Gbps 64MB 7,200 RPM 400 Gb/in² NA NA
WD Caviar Black 2TB 6Gbps 64MB 7,200 RPM 400 Gb/in² NA NA
WD Scorpio Black 750GB 3Gbps 16MB 7,200 RPM 520 Gb/in² NA NA
WD VelociRaptor VR200M 600GB 6Gbps 32MB 10,000 RPM NA NA NA
WD VelociRaptor 1TB 6Gbps 64MB 10,000 RPM NA NA NA

We used the following system configuration for testing:

Processor Intel Core i5-2500K 3.3GHz
Motherboard Asus P8P67 Deluxe
Bios revision 1850
Platform hub Intel P67 Express
Platform drivers INF update
Memory size 8GB (2 DIMMs)
Memory type Corsair Vengeance DDR3 SDRAM at 1333MHz
Memory timings 9-9-9-24-1T
Audio Realtek ALC892 with 2.62 drivers
Graphics Asus EAH6670/DIS/1GD5 1GB with Catalyst 11.7 drivers
Hard drives Corsair Force 3 Series 240GB with 1.3.2 firmware
Corsair Force Series GT 240GB with 1.3.2 firmware
Crucial m4 256GB with 0009 firmware
Samsung 830 Series 256GB with CXM03B1Q firmware
Hitachi Deskstar 7K3000 3TB with MKA0A580 firmware
Seagate Barracuda 3TB with CC47 firmware
Seagate Momentus XT 500GB with SD22 firmware
Seagate Momentus XT 750GB with SM12 firmware
WD Caviar Black 1TB with 05.01D05 firmware
WD Caviar Black 2TB with 01.00101 firmware
WD Scorpio Black 750GB with 01.01A01 firmware
WD VelociRaptor VR200M 600GB with 04.05G04 firmware
WD VelociRaptor 1TB with 04.06A00 firmware
Power supply Corsair Professional Series Gold AX650W
OS Windows 7 Ultimate x64

Thanks to Asus for providing the systems' motherboards and graphics cards, Intel for the CPUs, Corsair for the memory and PSUs, Thermaltake for the CPU coolers, and Western Digital for the Caviar Black 1TB system drives.

We used the following versions of our test applications:

Some further notes on our test methods:

  • To ensure consistent and repeatable results, the SSDs were secure-erased before almost every component of our test suite. Some of our tests then put the SSDs into a used state before the workload begins, which better exposes each drive's long-term performance characteristics. In other tests, like DriveBench and FileBench, we induce a used state before testing. In all cases, the SSDs were in the same state before each test, ensuring an even playing field. The performance of mechanical hard drives is much more consistent between factory fresh and used states, so we skipped wiping the HDDs before each test—mechanical drives take forever to secure erase.

  • We run all our tests at least three times and report the median of the results. We've found IOMeter performance can fall off with SSDs after the first couple of runs, so we use five runs for solid-state drives and throw out the first two.

  • Steps have been taken to ensure that Sandy Bridge's power-saving features don't taint any of our results. All of the CPU's low-power states have been disabled, effectively pegging the 2500K at 3.3GHz. Transitioning in and out of different power states can affect the performance of storage benchmarks, especially when dealing with short burst transfers.

The test systems' Windows desktop was set at 1280x1024 in 32-bit color at a 75Hz screen refresh rate. 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.