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Testing Participants

In a majority of tests in this review three hard disk drives are going to be compared. It’s just because WD’s Raptors are much faster than ordinary 3.5” drives with a spindle rotation speed of 7200rpm. It is a long-established fact and I’m not going to waste my and your time trying to prove it once again.

On the other hand, it would be interesting to see if the performance of the new generation of Raptors is closer to that of modern SCSI drives. But as I am perfectly aware of all the strong and weak aspects of SCSI drives, I will only add them into the tests that imitate the typical disk subsystem load of file and web servers.

I mentioned three discs to be compared in this review and here they are: WD1500AHFD aka Raptor X, WD740GD (a second-generation Raptor), and… one more WD740GD.

Yes, it would be logical to compare Raptors of all the three generations – WD360GD, WD740GD and WD1500AHFD – but unfortunately only 36GB models of the second generation are still available in shops while the original Raptor is not selling anymore (but you can still check out our review called WD Raptor: First ATA Hard Disk Drive with 10,000rpm Speed).

But why there are two WD740GD drives in this test session? It’s all thanks to HighPoint Technologies, particularly to the company’s PR department.

Soon after the publication of the HighPoint RocketRAID 2320 Controller Review, they hinted me that the controller would only show its full might with many hard drives.

I’m quite a skeptical person generally, so I took a few more drives in addition to the set of four WD740GD that we use for testing RAID controllers (and I confess I thus violated the unwritten rule that disks with different firmware versions mustn’t be used to test controllers).

I carried out some tests and obtained quite interesting results. The controller’s performance with RAID5 arrays was indeed suddenly faster as soon as there were more than four drives in the array. But two facts made me suspicious. First, the controller disabled the option of choosing the stripe block size at that. Second, the controller’s performance was higher only with requests to write sequential data blocks. All this makes me think that HighPoint’s programmers have just implemented something like 3Ware’s R5 Fusion technology.

But let’s get back to our Raptors… And so I found myself with quite recently manufactured samples of the WD740GD drive and had quite a lot of time and one of the testbeds was unoccupied. And I soon had test results for two WD740GD drives differing greatly in their manufacture date and firmware version. And when I compared the results – I was actually shocked…

So I’m in fact feeling obliged to HighPoint – I couldn’t have come up with a bigger intrigue for this review.

Just in case I would like to provide full model names of the HDDs and their firmware versions:

  • WD740GD - 00FLA1 / 27.08D27
  • WD740GD - 00FLC0 / 33.08F33
  • WD1500AHFD - 00RAR0 / 19.06P19
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