Articles: Storage
 

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We do not have the whole ton of hard disk drive reviews on our site these days. It could be because computer enthusiasts do not express as much interest in hard disk drives these days, since contemporary platforms performance only indirectly depends on the speed of the storage subsystem. Nevertheless, if you already own a high-performance system with an overclocked processor, fast memory, powerful graphics subsystem built of several top graphics accelerators working at higher frequencies, then maybe you should consider speeding up the data loading from your hard drives? And although it will not affect the fps rate in games, the positive effect will not remain unnoticed. For example, you will see that operating system and new game levels load faster and the system responds more promptly in resource-hungry applications.

We all know the main ways of speeding up the disk subsystem: the primary solution would be building a RAID 0 array. Actually, I am sure that many of you have been working with disk arrays like that for a while now. However, today we would like to discuss another option for those who want to speed up their disk subsystem: using Raptor hard disk drives from Western Digital. This company has given up SCSI drives long time ago and redirected the freed engineering resources to developing Serial ATA HDDs that could boast performance comparable to that f expensive HDDs for database servers. This is exactly what determined the arrival of WD Raptor hard disk drive family. Computer enthusiasts building ultimate performance home systems have always wanted to have a member of this successful lineup in their possession.

The first WD Raptor appeared about 5 years ago. It was a hard drive with 36GB storage capacity that may seem ridiculously small today. But even then it could boast high spindle rotation speed of 10,000RPM. This parameter became Raptor’s calling card: even today there are no SATA hard disk drives in the market that could compete with Raptor in terms of spindle rotation speed. Over the past years they significantly enriched the lineup of record-breaking SATA drives. The 36GB Raptor was closely followed by 74GB and then 150GB models. Western Digital also started offering their new Raptor X solution that became very popular among modding fans for its transparent window made of polycarbonate.

High performance allowed Raptor drives to take over some part of the storage solutions market. However, Western Digital didn’t rest on their laurels for long. Although none of their competitors managed to roll out a 10,000RPM SATA HDD, some contemporary hard drives with 7,200RPM spindle rotation speed managed to outperform Raptor in certain cases. For example, Samsung Spinpoint F1 can compete against WD Raptor pretty successfully in a number of applications. Unlike Raptor, it boasts some other advantages: fully-fledged support of Serial ATA II protocol and much more practical storage capacity.

In other words, after a year and a half of silence, Western Digital had to refresh their Raptor lineup in order to keep the fans on their side. And they did it in an extremely elegant manner: they replaced Raptor with a hardly similar VelociRaptor, which, however, has very strong family ties to the predecessor. Just like the carnivorous velociraptor dinosaur that gave name to the new WD hard drive, VelociRaptor boasts higher speed and considerably smaller physical dimensions than the previous generation drives.

Trying to conquer new heights, Western Digital engineers built their new solution with smaller-diameter platters, so that on the one hand, the drive form-factor got down to 2.5-inch, while on the other, its pre-platter data density increased. However, we are going to talk about the technical specifications later in this article. As a tease, we will mention that the new drives retained their 10,000RPM spindle rotation speed and became considerably more capacious: up to 300GB.

 
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