Far back in the mists of time, 65 million years months ago, Raptor’s ruled the world of hard disk drives. Stomping impetuously over standard-speed hard disk drives, a 10,000rpm Western Digital Raptor hard disk was the quickest way to boost game load and Windows XP boot times. While they carried a premium price tag, the slowness of hard disks at the time meant the difference was palpable, and enthusiasts bought them by the boat-load.
Fast forward to the present day though, and the world of storage has changed a great deal. Perpendicular recording has allowed hard disk platter capacities to rocket, boosting areal density and improving hard disk performance across the board without the need for 10,000rpm motors. SSDs, in the past a technology in its infancy, have developed to become the dominate form of high-performance storage, offering in the case of the Crucial C300 sequential read speeds of up to 355MB/sec – twice as fast as any conventional consumer hard disk.
However, SSDs are not without their faults, namely their high cost per GB and their inability to preserve performance without application of the TRIM command, which is currently only supported in Windows 7.
With this in mind, on an island off the coast of Costa Rica Western Digital has decided to give its Raptor hard disk brand another go, with the 600GB VelociRaptor claiming to be the fastest SATA hard disk on the market.
The specs are certainly enough to make the array of 7,200rpm drives on the market shudder: three 200GB platters spinning at 10,000rpm with a 32MB cache. Rather than use the typical 3.5in hard disk format, Western Digital has again used the smaller 2.5in size of drive to reduce overall platter size and the read/write head movement required. The drive itself is slightly taller than a normal 2.5in laptop hard disk though (so you can’t fit it into a netbook or typical laptop). Due to the increased heat generated by the 10,000rpm motor, the disk needs to be fitted into a 3.5in heatsink casing to provide sufficient cooling, a design that’s carried over from the last time we saw the VelociRaptor, then in 300GB form. As the drive itself is only 2.5in though, there’s a simple SATA pass-through connector on a PCB on the underside of the heatsink casing, where the standard SATA connectors are fitted.
The VelociRaptor 600GB’s SATA bus is a little different though, as it, like much of Western Digital’s more recent range of hard disks, is compatible with SATA 6Gbps. Frankly, this is unnecessary inclusion considering that hard disks, even at their fastest, are 100MB/sec off the bandwidth limits of SATA 3Gbps, let alone SATA 6Gbps. We’ll be testing the VelociRaptor on the SATA 3Gbps ports of our test motherboard, and the SATA 6Gbps ports of a HighPoint Rocket 620 to see if there’s any difference.