Final Words

The new VelociRaptor does reclaim its title as world's fastest client hard drive, and I do appreciate the fact that WD hasn't raised prices on the drive in the past two years either. Compared to any 3.5" drive on the market today, the new VR is significantly faster without a doubt. Random IO performance is at least double most 3.5" drives, and sequential performance is almost 50% better than the fastest competitors. Most impressive is the fact that power consumption is actually competitive with modern 3.5" green drives as well, another benefit of the VR's 2.5" package.

The biggest problem for the new VR today is the same issue we had two years ago: SSDs are much faster, and are quickly becoming more affordable. As a primary drive I wouldn't recommend the VelociRaptor simply because you can get a better overall experience with an SSD. We have a number of very reliable, reasonably affordable (128GB), high-performing SSD options to choose from. Intel's lineup, Samsung's SSD 830 and Crucial's m4 all come to mind.

As secondary storage, the new VelociRaptor appeals to those users who need more capacity than an SSD can affordably offer, for active use. Launching applications, games, and working on (not just streaming for playback) large data files are all going to be quicker on the VR than on a standard 3.5" drive. If you're building the ultimate workstation, you could use an SSD + VR for internal storage coupled with some larger, slower drives in RAID as a backup or for your more passive data (movies, music, edited photos). For most users however, I'd honestly recommend an SSD plus a couple of large, 5400/7200RPM drives in RAID-1 for everything you can't store on your SSD. While the Raptor line was quickly embraced by the enthusiast, I believe it has transitioned exclusively to a workstation role.

I have to admit I was disappointed to see that Western Digital went conservative on the new VelociRaptor design and didn't include any on-board NAND to really mix things up. What I was hoping for was a combination of the VelociRaptor and Seagate's Momentus XT. Perhaps that doesn't make sense given the available SSD caching solutions available today, but I don't see the harm in pairing even a small amount of NAND with the drive. I don't see hard drives going away anytime soon, so we might as well try to make accessing them as quick as possible.

Then there's the extreme option. I would love to see a manufacturer treat a hard drive as an SSD with a mechanical counterpart, rather than a hard drive with some NAND on it. I'm curious to see what a VelociRaptor (or any other 2.5" HDD) with 64GB of NAND used as a read/write cache would behave like. If users are able to fit all of their program, apps and data into a 128GB SSD, I have to believe that a well managed cache can deliver compelling performance with half that space.

Unfortunately most hard drive companies seem slow to adopt NAND into their designs, so I suspect much of this will have to be a dream for now. The new VelociRaptor is a great evolution of the design and it's truly a very fast hard drive. Just as before, if I needed to buy a high-performance mechanical hard drive, it's the one I'd pick.

PCMark 7 Performance & Power Consumption
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  • bozdee - Monday, April 16, 2012 - link

    Anand, you've used the French spelling for 'cheap' down the bottom of the first page - great writeup otherwise!
  • Sufo - Monday, April 16, 2012 - link

    Cheaper? The comparative form of cheap? I didn't realise this was French.
  • PyroHoltz - Monday, April 16, 2012 - link


    cheaper(French) --> cheaper(English)
  • Mr.T - Monday, April 16, 2012 - link

    There is no French spelling for cheap (or cheaper or cheapest); Cheap translates to "Pas cher" (Not expensive) or "Bon marché" (Good deal) in French.
  • dananski - Monday, April 16, 2012 - link

    IIRC, bon marché is often mistakenly translated literally to well priced / good deal, but it actually means cheap - an indication of qualitiy as well as price. Quite amusing for the Bon Marché chain of clothes shops in the UK, which obviously aims for the former interpretation, or for an assumption that a Frenchy sounding name makes it well posh.
  • safcman84 - Wednesday, April 18, 2012 - link

    Where did you get that from?

    Bon Marche means good deal. There is no French word for Cheap.

    Mr T got it right.
  • bigboxes - Monday, April 16, 2012 - link

    In English, something that could be considered inexpensive would be called "cheap." In a comparison of the cost of two or more items the item that is cheapest would be called "cheaper". Next time, stay awake in class. LOL
  • bozdee - Monday, April 16, 2012 - link

    When the article was first published it read "... however, the VRs are still cheape ..." and has been changed since. When I saw 'cheap' written as 'cheape' it reminded me of how a French person would say the English word 'cheap'.

    It all made sense in my head but I could see how my choice of words (or lack thereof) led to all of the comments below. All I really wanted to do was correct the typo.
  • Tunnah - Monday, April 16, 2012 - link

    ..The Raptor holds fond memories for me, when I first got enough money to build a serious rig, I used the original Raptor as my boot drive.

    It always stood out as the geek's bootdrive, and WD could easily reclaim that title if they coupled it with some NAND.

    I'd ditch my primary SSD in a heartbeat if they released a VR HDD/SDD combo drive!
  • Makaveli - Monday, April 16, 2012 - link

    Good luck with that.

    I wouldn't care if they slapped a 1GB of ram on the hard drive its still a hard drive.

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