The VelociRaptor Doubles In Capacity
Western Digital (WD) today announced its first new enthusiast-oriented VelociRaptor hard drive (HDD) in nearly two years with the launch of the 450GB and 600GB capacity drives this morning. These new drives not only double the capacity available for this 10,000 RPM enterprise storage drives, but they also introduce support of the SATA 6Gbps interface and increase the drives' cache from 16MB to 32MB! Thanks to these specification improvements the VelociRaptor has doubled in storage space and has gained roughly 15% in overall drive performance compared to the VelociRaptor WD3000GLFS 300GB hard drive that we reviewed in April 2008 here. To make top it all off we are told that the new drives consume no more power than the previous generation WD VelociRaptor! Today, we have the WD VelociRaptor 600GB (WD6000HLHX) IcePack Hard Drive and we'll be taking an in-depth look at the drive's features and the performance of the drive compared to the previous generation VelociRaptor HDD and other popular SSDs.
The VelociRaptor has always been aimed at high-performance PC enthusiasts who demand the ultimate SATA drive. Western Digital has built the VelociRaptor hard drive with enterprise-class mechanics that provide 24x7 durability under high-performance demands, and as a result they are rated at 1.4 million hours Mean Time Between Failures (MTBF). The WD VelociRaptor drive is also available in the IcePack enclosure, a 3.5-inch mounting frame with a built-in heat sink – a factory customization that fits the drive into a standard 3.5-inch system bay and doubles as a hard drive cooler as well. If you remove it from the IcePack housing the drive is only 2.5-inches in width, but WD only sells the 2.5-inch bare drives to OEM customers. Don't think about stuffing one of these in a netbook or notebook, though, as the 10,000 RPM drives feature a 15mm z-height, which make them too thick to fit in a standard notebook storage drive bay. The drive pictures above and the one we are reviewing today will be using the WD IcePack.
WD VelociRaptors SATA 6Gbps drives are available in two capacities:
- 450 GB 3.5-inch hard drives (WD4500HLHX) - $299.00
- 600 GB 3.5-inch hard drives (WD6000HLHX) - $329.00
- 450 GB 2.5-inch hard drives (WD4500BLHX) - OEM Only
- 600 GB 2.5-inch hard drives (WD6000BLHX) - OEM Only
The 2.5-inch WD VelociRaptor is enclosed in a backplane-ready 3.5-inch enterprise-class mounting frame with a built-in heat sink that keeps the drive cooler when installed in any chassis that has decent airflow. The new 450GB and 600GB VelociRaptor drives feature a brand new 3-platter design with 200GB per platter. The previous generation VelociRaptors used a two platter design with a pair of 150GB platters. This new 3-platter design, along with the newly added SATA 6GB/s interface support, is how WD was able to get the data transfer rate (buffer to disk) up from 128 MB/sec on the 300GB model to 145MB/sec on the new 600GB model that we are looking at here today.
WD VelociRaptor Product Specifications:
- Interface: Serial ATA-3 (6Gbps)
- Voltage: 5V
- Peak Read/Write Sequential Watts: 6.8W
- Peak Random Seeks Watts: 5.4W
- Idle Watts: 4.3W
- Sleep Idle Watts: 0.70W
- Temperature Range: 5 to 50 Degrees Celsius
- Acoustics (idle/seek): 2.7 / 3.4 BA
- MTTF: 1.4 Million Hours
Here is a better look at the SATA 6Gbps header and the SATA power connector on the VelociRaptor series. The SATA 6 Gb/s storage interface is backwards-compatible with SATA 3 Gb/s interfaces, so no worries about that. For maximum performance you will want to run the VelociRaptor 0 in ‘AHCI’ mode in the BIOS and on a SATA 6 GB/s controller.
The overall performance and features of the VelociRaptor remain unchanged and the only thing we haven't mentioned yet is that the head load and unload cycles of the drive are rated at 600,000. The drives come with a 5-year warranty just like the previous generation! Let's move on to performance testing to see how the drive performs!
The Test System
Before we look at the numbers, here is a brief glance at the test system that was used. All testing was done on a fresh install of Windows 7 Ultimate 64-bit. All benchmarks were completed on the desktop with no other software programs running. The Intel Core i7 test system was run in triple-channel memory mode at 1600MHz with 8-8-8-24 memory timings. The ASUS P6X58D Premium motherboard was run using all the latest drives and BIOS 0702. The ASUS P6X58D Premium motherboard uses the Intel ICH10R south bridge chipset, which we used to run our 'boot drive'. The boot drive used in our test system was an Intel X25-V 40GB model with TRIM enabled. We then used the Marvell 9123 PCIe SATA 6Gbps controller that is on the motherboard to test the SSDs and HDDs that are used in the benchmark charts. All of the SSDs and HDDs were tested in a fresh, out of the box (FOB) state and the system had the latest firmware installed on it when testing was done.
The Marvell 9123 SATA 6G Controller was tested using driver version 188.8.131.524, or 1034 for short. This driver is said to be the first Marvell driver able to pass the TRIM command from Windows to the drives.
|Intel LGA 1366 Test Platform|
|Core i7 920
ASUS P6X58D Premium
6GB Kingston HyperX T1 1600MHz
ATI Radeon HD 5670
Intel X25-V 40GB
CoolerMaster UPC 1100W
Windows 7 Ultimate 64-Bit
SSDs Included in the Benchmarking:
- Crucial RealSSD C300 256GB - Firmware 0001
- OCZ Vertex 2 Pro 100GB - Firmware 232A11F0
- OCZ Vertex LE 100GB - Firmware
- OCZ Vertex 120GB - Firmware 1.5
- Intel X25-M G2 160GB - Firmware 02HD
- Toshiba THNS256GG8BBA 256GB - Firmware AGYA0201
- WD SiliconEdge 256GB - Firmware 5.12
- WD VelociRaptor 300GB - Firmware 04.04V01
- WD VelociRaptor 600GB - Firmware 04.05G04
The Western Digital VelociRaptor 600GB HDD operates on the ATA8-ACS standard and has features like S.M.A.R.T. and APM (Advanced Power Management) and NCQ according to Crystal Disk Info.
Let's take a look at the benchmarks and see what the WD VelociRaptor 600GB HDD has to offer!
HD Tach v184.108.40.206
HD Tach is a low level hardware benchmark for random access read/write storage devices such as hard drives, removable drives (ZIP/JAZZ), flash devices, and RAID arrays. HD Tach uses custom device drivers and other low level Windows interfaces to bypass as many layers of software as possible and get as close to the physical performance of the device as possible.
The Old VelociRaptor 300GB Drive Performance Results:
The New VelociRaptor 600GB Drive Performance Results:
Benchmark Results: The WD VelociRaptor 600GB HDD was able to reach 129.9MB/s read and 111.9MB/s write. The random access time was at 6.8ms and the burst speed was 334MB/s thanks to the SATA 6Gbps controller support!
Comparison Chart: Compared to other popular SSDs the WD VelociRaptor 600GB HDD couldn't keep up, but it was significantly faster than the older 300GB version that it replaces. In fact it was ~16% faster on average write and ~23% faster in the average read tests!
HD Tune v4.01
HD Tune Pro 4.01 is an extended version of HD Tune which includes many new features such as write benchmark, secure erasing, AAM setting, folder usage view, disk monitor, command line parameters and file benchmark.
Benchmark Results: The WD VelociRaptor 600GB HDD's average read speed was found to be 123MB/s with an average write speed of 122MB/s. The read test had an access time of 7.0ms, while the write test had an access time of 7.1ms. The burst speed was nearly 275MB/s in each benchmark.
Comparison Chart: When comparing the WD VelociRaptor 600GB HDD to the competition, it had decent performance numbers for a hard drive and actually beat all the other SSDs in the burst test.
64MB File Test
Benchmark Results: Running the built-in file benchmark test in HD Tune 4.01 showed once again just how the drive performs with various file sizes. This test shows the WD VelociRaptor 600GB HDD topping out at nearly 170MB/sec in the read test and 135MB/sec in the write test.
HD Tune v4.01 - Random Access
The random access read and write test is a very important performance area to look at on solid state drives as some controllers have problems with random writes. In recent years the controllers have improved and the firmware has been better optimized for random read and write performance.
Random Access Read Test Results:
Benchmark Results: When it comes to the random access read performance test the WD VelociRaptor 600GB HDD did fairly well with solid average access times for a hard drive in both IOPS and MB/s. The 4KB read speed on the WD VelociRaptor 600GB HDD was 0.571MB/s.
Random Access Write Test Results:
Benchmark Results: The write performance test results of the WD VelociRaptor 600GB HDD were better than the read results, which might shock some of our readers.
4KB Random Access Write File Test Results Chart:
Benchmark Results: Many of our readers have asked for a chart showing side-by-side comparisons of the drives we have tested in the 4KB random access write test. You can see from this chart that the WD VelociRaptor 600GB HDD had a tough time keeping up in random access write tests at 4KB, but it was slightly faster than the WD VelociRaptor 300GB hard drive that this model replaces as the flagship enthusiast hard drive for WDC.
SiSoftware Sandra 2010
SiSoftware Sandra (the System ANalyser, Diagnostic and Reporting Assistant) is an information & diagnostic utility. Sandra provides most of the information (including undocumented) you need to know about your hardware, software and other devices whether hardware or software. In order to test the hard drive, SiSoftware Sandra 2010c was used as part of the test suite. The graphical results that Sandra gives you after the test is completed nicely shows how drives perform over time and where on the drive the performance is seen.
READ Performance Testing:
WRITE Performance Testing:
Benchmark Results: The WD VelociRaptor 600GB HDD scored how we think an enthusiast HDD should in Sandra 2010 when it comes to read performance as it flew through the benchmark at 124MB/s on average. The write scores were found to have an average write score of 118MB/s.
Comparison Chart: The WD VelociRaptor 600GB HDD had much better average read and write speeds than the VelociRaptor 300GB model and was able to perform better than a couple of the SSDs in the write speed test!
CrystalDiskMark is a small HDD benchmark utility for your hard drive that enables you to rapidly measure sequential and random read/write speeds.
100MB Files Test:
Benchmark Results: With CrystalDiskMark v3.0 run with a file size of 100MB we got sequential read and write numbers that were on par with what we saw in the other tests. We hit 166MB/s on the sequential read and 148MB/s on the sequential write test.
100MB Files Test Comparison Chart: The WD VelociRaptor 600GB HDD looked solid on the sequential tests, but the performance wasn't awe inspiring in the 4K read/write tests.
ATTO Disk Benchmark v2.41
ATTO is one of the oldest hard drive benchmarks that is still used today. ATTO measures transfers across a specific volume length. It measures raw transfer rates for both reads and writes and places the data into graphs that you can easily interpret. The test was run with the default runs of 0.5kb through 8192kb transfer sizes with the total length being 256mb.
Benchmark Results: The Western Digital VelociRaptor 600GB HDD was able to reach 150MBps on the read test and 150MBps on the write test in the I/O Comparison benchmark.
Benchmark Results: The WD VelociRaptor 600GB HDD was able to reach 159MBps on the read test and 153MBps on the write test in the Overlapped I/O benchmark.
4MB Files Test Comparison Chart - Overlapped I/O: The WD VelociRaptor 600GB HDD was at the bottom of the pack when it came to read performance, but pulled ahead of the VelociRaptor 300GB by nearly 30% in the read and write tests!
PCMark Vantage v1.01 is the first objective hardware performance benchmark for PCs running 32- and 64-bit versions of Microsoft Windows Vista. PCMark Vantage is perfectly suited for benchmarking any type of Microsoft Windows Vista PC from multimedia home entertainment systems and laptops to dedicated workstations and hi-end gaming rigs. Regardless of whether the benchmarker is an artist or an IT Professional, PCMark Vantage shows the user where their system soars or falls flat, and how to get the most performance possible out of their hardware. The PCMark Vantage benchmark was run in 64-bit mode for the results shown below.
Benchmark Results: The WD VelociRaptor 600GB HDD had an overall score of 7,746 in PCMark Vantage when run in 64-bit mode and the individual test results can be seen in the image above.
Comparison Chart Results: The WD VelociRaptor 600GB HDD wasn't able to compete with the SSDs in any of the tests, but it was slightly faster than the VelociRaptor 300GB drive.
Free Space and Conclusion
When it comes to storage capacity, the Western Digital VelociRaptor 600GB HDD has a free capacity of 558GB as shown above.
Final Thoughts and Conclusions
The Western Digital VelociRaptor 600GB hard drive (WD6000HLHX) has been rumored for many months now and it is great to finally see the drive come to market. The drive doesn't bring many new features other than SATA 6Gbps and the larger 32MB cache to the table, but WD has doubled the capacity of this 10,000 RPM drive series and did manage to boost performance as advertised. In fact, we noticed more than a 15% performance increase in some benchmarks, which was great to see. It was also interesting to see how large the performance gap has come between hard drives and solid-state drives. The VelociRaptor series is an enthusiast class product and is ideal for those PC users who don't want to jump into the SSD market right now. The new 450GB and 600GB VelociRaptors would also make for great secondary storage drives to those that have an SSD as their primary storage drive.
Western Digital VelociRaptor hard drives are available through select distributors and resellers starting today. All of the WD VelociRaptor drives come backed by WD’s five-year limited warranty. Manufacturer's Suggested Retail Price (MSRP) for the WD VelociRaptor 450 GB (model WD4500HLHX) is $299 USD and the 600 GB (model WD6000HLHX) is $329 USD.
That breaks down into something like this when it comes to cost per gigabyte:
- 300GB: $199 ($0.67/GB)
- 450GB: $299 ($0.66/GB)
- 600GB: $329 ($0.55/GB)
When it comes to pricing, the new VelociRaptors actually cost less per gigabyte than the previous generation, so there really isn't much to complain about with the new VelociRaptors! The capacity has doubled, the performance has increased and the price per GB has decreased by nearly 18 percent! If you are looking to buy a hard drive and want a SATA 6Gbps drive with performance as a key feature then be sure to give the new 450GB and 600GB VelociRaptors a really good look!
Legit Bottom Line: The WD VelociRaptor 600GB hard drive has solid overall performance and price is right if you want a hard drive and not an SSD.