Quick Take

Our experiences to date with the Western Digital WD740ADFD have been terrific. The recent updates to the drive have brought it into the same performance sector as the larger WD1500ADFD drive. We found the overall write performance and sustained transfer rates to be excellent and class leading in our test results. The drive even has improved thermal and acoustic characteristics over the other Raptors, although it's certainly not competitive with other drives. Of course those drives do not have to contend with 10,000 RPM spindle speeds and firmware that is generally designed to extract the greatest amount of performance.

The WD740ADFD is not without faults. The obvious issue for most users is the capacity of the drive. Considering the rampant increase in storage requirements for games, operating systems, and video/audio needs, 74GB can start feeling cramped in a hurry. The other issue is price. The drive is currently selling for around $140 with rebate where the WD1500ADFD with twice the capacity can be had for $190 with rebate. In these terms, the 150GB Raptor is a much better buy. Even then, you are paying a large premium for performance, though the performance improvement is noticeable in both objective and subjective terms.

While the platter sizes have changed on the new 74GB Raptors, for the most part the story remains the same. The Western Digital Raptor drives still offer some of the best performance available (outside of SCSI and SAS). The high level of performance is somewhat offset by increased noise levels and operating temperatures, as well as the already noted higher prices and reduced capacities. In an ideal world, we would like to see some of the new 160GB platters used with a 10,000 RPM spindle speed, but there are technological hurdles involved with getting the drive heads to read and write data that fast. We expect to start seeing SCSI and SAS drives in the future that have platter sizes above 74GB, so hopefully Western Digital will be able to follow suit with newer Raptor models sporting higher areal densities and the accompanying increased capacities. Looking at the performance improvement Western Digital garnered by moving from a 37GB to a 74GB platter size in our benchmarks here, we can only dream about what we might see with 150GB platters.

We still have difficulty with recommending these drives to most people when excellent performing 500GB drives can be had for around $150 now, not to mention the well balanced smaller capacity models like the Seagate 320GB 7200.10 drive for $90. Many users will be hard-pressed to even notice the difference between most of the modern hard drives currently on the market. However, we are enthusiasts at heart, so in situations where money isn't a concern we would have a WD1500ADFD as the boot/OS drive with our favorite games installed on it, and we'd pair that with a top performing secondary 320GB~750GB drive for storage and other applications. Of course, if you are into benchmarking or have a specific application that benefits from it, then a pair of Raptors in RAID 0 will be even better. In the end, if you want one of the best performing drives in the market then you cannot go wrong with the 74GB or 150GB Raptor drives.

Actual Application Performance
POST A COMMENT

26 Comments

View All Comments

  • Genx87 - Wednesday, February 07, 2007 - link

    Once you have one you cant go back :D
    They are wonderful drives. The capacity issue isnt a big deal unless you are opting for the 36GB version. I havent had a need for excessive amounts of capacity since I built my sever a couple of years ago.

    I built a server with a pair of the 36GBs with a 500GB array behind it for storage. It is a very nice step up from the pair of 80GB 7200 rpm drives in there before.
    Reply
  • aka1nas - Wednesday, February 07, 2007 - link

    They definately make great OS/Applications drives if you back them up with a bigger drive for bulk storage. Reply
  • Genx87 - Wednesday, February 07, 2007 - link

    oops forgot to mention my machine at home has the newest 74GB raptor in it. Which is an upgrade from the 1st run 74GB raptor in my old machine.

    Blazing fast, as usual.
    Reply
  • Muzzy - Wednesday, February 07, 2007 - link

    "Of course, if you are into benchmarking or run a lot of disk intensive applications, then a pair of Raptors in RAID 0 will be even better."

    Um, aren't you guys contradicting yourself here? In July 1st, 2004 article about Raptor drives in RAID-0, you stated "If you haven't gotten the hint by now, we'll spell it out for you: there is no place, and no need for a RAID-0 array on a desktop computer." I love my 150GB Raptor despite the noise, don't get me wrong. Really do wish though that other company would give WD some competition in this category. $190 for 150GB??
    Reply
  • JarredWalton - Wednesday, February 07, 2007 - link

    Most people don't really care about running benchmarks for bragging rights, and most desktop users do not "run a lot of disk intensive applications". We don't think RAID 0 is even remotely necessary for 99% of people, but there are still benchmarks where it is obviously faster. If you have BitTorrent running in the background with other networked computers streaming data off of the same drive and you start to run games that load off of the same drive, yes, RAID 0 will clearly outperform a single drive. That's more of a server/workstation workload, which is why we say that RAID 0 on a desktop computer isn't needed. Reply
  • Axbattler - Thursday, February 08, 2007 - link

    *Ponders*

    Where RAID-0 excels is in STR performance. Loading of applications that benefit from STR (e.g. XP), copying a large massive file, working with a large massive file (video editing) etc. are applications where you will see a significant gain with RAID-0.

    RAID-0 may well be faster than a single drive identical drive in most applications (you do pay slightly in access time, but the gain from STR can probably offset it more often than not).. But how about a well two individual drives in a reasonably configured system? I am not convinced that in the scenario that you've described (which, I do not believe reflects the nature of the workload in a server in the first place), that you are necessarily better off with RAID-0 than two individual drives. I would rather have one drive running the game, and the other doing the streaming/torrenting. Game loading time is not exactly where I've seen RAID-0 shine the most (and once the game is running, you'll pretty much get no gain from RAID-0).
    Reply
  • JarredWalton - Thursday, February 08, 2007 - link

    Then carry it a bit further. Basically, I'm saying that if you generate enough concurrent HDD accesses, RAID 0 will outperform single drives. You might get better performance from two drives without RAID 0, but then you need to worry about having separate volumes and what happens if most of the accesses start to target a single drive. Basically, RAID 0 can be faster than an individual drive, but this mostly occurs in unrealistic situations, as you point out. RAID 0 mostly seems to be for bragging rights, and I certainly don't recommend it. Reply
  • lemonadesoda - Wednesday, February 07, 2007 - link

    Most Raptorers (the people who love and install them) typically choose a dual drive RAID setup for ultimate HDD performance.

    However, seeing the (very close) performance of Seagate 7200.10, I would be very interested to see Raptors in RAID vs 7200.10 in RAID.

    Would the performance gap INCREASE or DECREASE in such a configuration?
    Reply
  • Le Québécois - Wednesday, February 07, 2007 - link

    It's nice to see my WD1500ADFD is still the top gaming drive on the market. Still something has been bothering me for some time now.

    I've always found intriguing that my Raptor temperature is about 40% lower (idle and under load) than the one you post on every HDD articles. I have a 80mm Antec front fan but still the temperature is 40% lower, not 25%.

    What's the room temperature? You always post the base dB of the room but I don't remember ever seeing the temperature.
    Reply
  • jabber - Wednesday, February 07, 2007 - link

    Indeed, I bought one of these 74Gb Raptors a few weeks ago and it never gets more than slightly warm. Certainly doesnt warrant an 80mm fan blasting on it.

    I do recommend the WD Secure SATA cable though. Great bit of kit. How the standard SATA cable connection setup got approved I'll never know.

    The niggle I have is that 74Gb is too small? I have a full XP install, several apps and games (BF2/Total War etc. etc. and its still got plenty of space. Why would you bother cluttering up your main system HD with non-essential stuff like media files? Just get a cheap 400Gb+ for that sort of thing where performance isnt an issue.
    Reply

Log in

Don't have an account? Sign up now