Back in the day, ok, about 2 years ago, when everybody was stuck with 7,400 RPM hard drives in their PCs, it was Western Digital who rocked the market with their first VelociRaptor SATA hard drives running at 10,000 RPM with 32MB cache. While initially designed for enterprise solutions, the Velociraptor HDDs found a huge and eager audience in the PC enthusiast industry who could finally have SCSI level of performance without shelling out ridiculous amounts of money on the HDD and controller cards.
Two years later after the introduction of the first VelociRaptor HDD and Western Digital have introduced the 450GB and 600GB models for the masses. These 10,000 RPM hard drives are in the face of stiff competition from SSDs which have become less expensive over the years. Still, the performance of a VelociRaptor is nothing to sneeze at, neither is the price of an SSD which still up in the skies.
Western Digital’s new 600GB VelociRaptor is compatible with SATA 3 (6GB/s) speeds, however, I’ve tested it on our regular SATA motherboard as the difference between SATA 2 and 3 is absolutely negligible on traditional HDDs; it is the SSDs where SATA 3 really shines. The new 600GB VelociRaptor also has a claimed MTBF (mean time between failure) of 1.4 million hours, compared to 1.2 million of the previous gen 300GB VelociRaptor as well the Intel X-25M 160GB (G2) SSD I’ve used for the benchmarks.
For testing the WD 600GB SATA Velociraptor, I ran on it our usual testbed which comprises of an Intel Core i7 965EE @ 3.2GHz on an ASUS Rampage II Extreme motherboard, packing 3x 1GB Corsairs XMS3-1333 ram, a Kingston 64GB V-Series SSD running Windows 7 Ultimate; all of which is powered by a Corsair HX1000W PSU.
For comparisons we’ve used the original Western Digital 300GB SATA II VelociRaptor, Kingston SSDnow 64GB V-Series and Intel X-25M 160GB (G2) SSD. The results comprise of tests run using ATTO Disc Benchmark and HD Tach.
For those of you still wondering what the magical SATA 3 speed would’ve been, on our Gigabyte P55A-UD7 motherboard we got an average Read speed of 136MB/s and Write speed of 115MB/s; negligible performance increase.
As you can see the write speeds of the 600GB VelociRaptor are quite incredible compared to these SSDs, with burst speeds being equal across the board. For a real world test, I also ran World of Warcraft: Cataclysm on the hard drives. Patched up to 4.0.3a with a total file size of 33.7GB, Cataclysm is one demanding game. The load time between hitting “Enter World” (once I was logged in) to actually getting in to Stormwind city was an impressive 11 seconds on the 600GB VelociRaptor. Comparatively the Intel 160GB SSD ran it in 12.5 seconds.
For what it’s worth, the Western Digital Velociraptor SATA 3 600GB hard drive maybe targeted towards a niche audience, but its performance/price ratio makes it good enough that anybody who wants to upgrade from a regular HDD should definitely go for this beast. Yes, it’s obviously not as fast as SSDs when it comes to sequential read times, but do you honestly have files huge enough that require reading at such high speeds? In both synthetic benchmarks and real world performance, the 600GB VelociRaptor provides exceptional performance. It works to about $2.2/GB for a comparative SSD while the Velociraptor comes to $0.46/GB. At the end of the day, you have to decide how deep your pockets go and what level of performance you’re happy with; and the new Western Digital VelociRaptor SATA 3 600GB HDD is certainly worth it.