For the 1TB Western Digital VelociRaptor, Windows reports that the user ends up with 931GB (actually GiB) to do with as they please. As usual, the specification of 1TB is based on GB (1 GB = 1,000,000,000 bytes) and logically Windows measures it as 1,073,741,824 per GiB.
Those looking to supplant an SSD with the more reasonably priced VelociRaptor are in for disappointment. It’s not intended to compete with today’s performance SSDs and spinning platters never will. What it’s intended for what is Western Digital terms “creative professionals” – those working with large amounts of data (think video) and need fast and highly reliable storage. In my eyes, it also makes a superb secondary drive to a machine with an SSD for the OS drive. Many of today’s games can demand gobs of storage which can chew up SSD real estate quickly but it’s the type of data you want served up quickly for shorter waits on level loads, etc. In each of these scenarios, if you go the spinning platter route, you can’t really do any better for a large volume drive than the VelociRaptor.
Of course we can’t forget that they offer capacities of 250GB (WD2500HHTZ) and 500GB (WD5000HHTZ) as well. These drives always carried a premium price tag over 7200 and 5400 RPM drives and with the current inflated prices of hard drives in response to flooding in Asia we were really curious as to how the pricing would shake out on these. The 1TB version (WD1000DHTZ) is carrying an MSRP of $319.99 which may seem high given that not too long ago 1.5TB drives were less than $100. Today 1TB 7200 RPM drives are typically selling between $100 and $150. So there is definitely a premium on the VelociRaptor but also comes out to a mere $0.34 per usable GB which is well below the SSD cost per GB ratio which is typically $1.50+ per usable GB on large capacity drives. The 250GB and 500GB drives are offered up at $159.99 and 209.99 MSRP’s respectively.
Users can expect a 25% increase (according to WD) in performance and we saw sequential read/write scores that exceeded the rated specifications of 200MB/s. This is supported by a large 64MB cache to help buffer data. Overall, for a spinning platter drive, performance was very good and it’s a bit amazing that they’ve been able to get so much capacity in a drive with the platters rotating at 10,000 RPM. With such speeds, you’d expect the drive to be noisy but even on our open test bed, the noise was better than our aging 300GB model and is listed at 30 dBA idle and 37 dBA in performance seek mode. At no time did the drive ever feel overly hot to the touch so the attached heat sink does a nice job of siphoning off any heat being generated by the drive. Reliability shouldn’t be an issue with a specification of 1.4 million hours MTBF and a five year warranty.
There’s still plenty of life left in the hard drive industry and although SSDs have become the hot ticket, not everyone can afford the large capacity drives. Nor is everyone sold on the reliability of SSDs. The VelociRaptors aren’t what most are going to consider low cost but are certainly much more in the budget range for most consumers and this is mature technology that people seem to trust more. Likely, as these come to market and supply increases, the price will come down more which will make them even more attractive.
Legit Bottom Line: We found the latest incarnation of the Western Digital VelociRaptor to be an solid economical alternative to pricey, large capacity SSDs while offering some admirable performance numbers. Still, with hard drive prices already inflated, it will be interesting to see what kind of reception they receive from consumers.