Western Digital officially announced the 300GB based VelociRaptor a couple of weeks ago as the successor to the Raptor family.  We provided a preview of the drive and came away impressed with its performance although our review sample was suffering from early firmware problems and other maladies.  

Western Digital responded to our concerns quickly and provided us with a new drive. Western Digital still has not finalized the firmware for the retail market, but expects to very shortly. We will provide a full review of the drive including RAID and enterprise benchmark results once this occurs. The acoustic and thermal characteristics of the new drive did not differ from our previous results.  However, the performance differences noticed when testing the new drive is worth a quick update to our original article.

HD Tune  Pro 3.00 –

 
 

We no longer have the optimization problem with the servo algorithm that resulted in slowdowns on the outer diameter of the platters. Minimum transfer rates increased from 8.8 MB/s to 73.9 MB/s while the average STR increased from 98.4 MB/s to 102.0 MB/s. Burst rates also increased from 163.7 MB/s to 184.5 MB/s.

Application Results –

 
 

Our PCMark Vantage tests that simulate real-world performance patterns utilizing a variety of actual applications changed very little. The only measurable differences came in the Photo Gallery and Movie Maker tests.   It was in our initial application tests where the new drive significantly outperformed the original test sample.  Our game tests indicated very little difference between the drives, but enough to be measurable over the dozen test runs. 

In the video and file application tests, we significant improvements as the drive no longer slows down during the initial write process. As such, we see a 29-second improvement in the 7.55GB file copy test, 2.7 seconds in the 602MB file copy run, 5 seconds in the traditionally CPU intensive Recode test, and 7 seconds in the WinRAR test.

Quick Thoughts –

We have always appreciated every drive release in the Raptor family. Since Western Digital eradicated the bugs in our test unit, we firmly believe the improvements implemented in the VelociRaptor easily make it the SATA drive to have if performance is at the top of your shopping list. While the 300GB capacity and $1 per Gigabyte cost do not fair favorably to the latest 640GB to 1TB drives, both “penalties” are acceptable enough for us to recommend the VelociRaptor as the primary drive in any performance oriented system.

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  • 7Enigma - Monday, May 05, 2008 - link

    from 2.7 to 3.5%. Anyone care to comment? Are these tests variable enough that those numbers are comparible. Just seems a bit odd that you could have a 23% increase with some firmware changes. I'm sure on the whole its not much, but it's the first thing I noticed when looking at the new numbers. Reply
  • retrospooty - Monday, May 05, 2008 - link

    "from 2.7 to 3.5%. Anyone care to comment?"

    I am not so sure HD tune is the "end all be all" of Hard drive benchmarks, especially when measuring CPU utilization. Look at all the benchmarks and real world time tests, then decide what you want to buy.
    Reply
  • JonnyDough - Sunday, May 04, 2008 - link

    "Also gigabyte should not be capitalized -- this article is about WD, not Gigabyte ;)"

    No, any proper noun gets capitalized, and so does any word that belongs to that noun after it.

    "excuse but you shouldn't be recommending a drive that only increased capacity and reduced size. At the least, they could have made our $300 receive a 32MB cache."
    "Did you even read the preview? It was completely rebuilt. RTFM or GTFO. Go spend your money on marketing hype where numbers like cache size dominate, I guess."

    You're exactly right. Cache size means squat, just like the original raptor only had 150gb/s Sata and outperformed all the Sata II drives. The person begging for 32mb's of cache hasn't a clue what they're talking about.

    "I always thought that the performance end of the market was were the money was at."

    "Where the money is" depends more on which market you're focused on. Performance drives are only one of many markets. Some purchasers don't care about performance, therefore your statement is simply void. Performance is where the money is in the performance market.

    "This hard drive is still the bottleneck of the pc. It would be a complete waste to spend any coin on this drive. Every other part of the computer is evolving and hard drives are moving along at a snails pace. It's pretty pathetic."

    If the hard-drive is the bottleneck, then wouldn't make the most sense to spend your money there? Why would upgrade your fastest component?

    "The MB/S stats look impressive, but the real world performance vs the 640mb drive are barely noticeable in most cases. "

    Agreed.

    "it appears this is quietest drive available. That last stat is, IMO, probably the biggest gain for the Raptors. Top performance generally means high heat, noise and power consumption."

    ALL of the reasons listed in the article are reasons that this drive should be CONSIDERED, unless you're willing to wait and see how SSD's pan out. This drive will go the way of the dodo soon, just as the original raptor is now becoming extinct. It's biggest drawbacks are as mentioned though, comparable drives and high cost per GB.
    Reply
  • MikosNZ - Tuesday, May 06, 2008 - link

    "No, any proper noun gets capitalized, and so does any word that belongs to that noun after it. "

    Sorry but I am afraid you are not correct, read the context in which the comment was made again. The word 'gigabyte' was used as a unit of measurement and is not a proper noun so is not capitalised. 'Gigabyte' when used as the name of the hardware manufacturing company is a proper noun and is capitalised.
    Reply
  • JonnyDough - Wednesday, May 07, 2008 - link

    "Also gigabyte should not be capitalized -- this article is about WD, not Gigabyte ;)"

    My response was in response to THAT. I do believe that what I said still stands. Thanks though.
    Reply
  • nilepez - Sunday, May 04, 2008 - link

    The MB/S stats look impressive, but the real world performance vs the 640mb drive are barely noticeable in most cases.

    The biggest difference, as I recall, is with the Nero's recoding of a 7-8GB movie. And that difference was something like 5 or 6 seconds. Yes it's faster, but it's pretty minuscule in these comparisons.

    Storagereview.com's review made it look more impressive, but I'm now guessing they didn't give real world results based on time.

    I'm not really the target market for this drive, but if the performance gains were more significant (and the price dropped around 20%), I'd consider it, since it appears this is quietest drive available. That last stat is, IMO, probably the biggest gain for the Raptors. Top performance generally means high heat, noise and power consumption.

    So kudos to WD for managing make a drive that has it all (except for super large storage capacity).

    Reply
  • narzy - Sunday, May 04, 2008 - link

    Can you put these in a raid 0+1 array in a Mac Pro and post benchmark numbers? Reply
  • Rob94hawk - Saturday, May 03, 2008 - link

    This hard drive is still the bottleneck of the pc. It would be a complete waste to spend any coin on this drive. Every other part of the computer is evolving and hard drives are moving along at a snails pace. It's pretty pathetic. Reply
  • pygo - Monday, May 05, 2008 - link

    If that is the case, then wouldn't speeding up the slowest component in a system be a wise decision? Reply
  • Rob94hawk - Wednesday, May 07, 2008 - link

    Current hard drives are like AGP. You can make them a little faster but in the end they're still the bottleneck and just beating a dead horse. Time to move on to new technology.

    Isn't it sad that hard drives still cant exceed the bandwidth of legacy SATA?
    Reply

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