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General Impressions

We decided not to go crazy with benchmarks in this first look article on purpose. It is evident that the new Western Digital VelociRaptor drive with high linear read speed and extremely low access time will outperform any of its competitors in all sorts of benchmarks. And only the type of workload in a given tests will determine how far ahead the leader will be.

We found it much more interesting to dwell on some other parameters that may attract potential VelociRaptor users. Such as acoustic and thermal characteristics of the new HDD. However, do not get concerned here: VelociRaptor’s superior performance doesn’t require any sacrifices from you :)

Subjectively, the HDD produces very little noise. The hydrodynamic bearings make the HDD spindle rotate with barely audible whistling sound, which you can notice only if you hold your ear next to the hard drive case. You can hear the heads moving a little better, but the slight rattling sound they make is not annoying at all: the irritating chunking of the previous-generation Raptor drives is gone for good. I believe you will not hear WD VelociRaptor working at all if it is inside a quality system case, because the noise from other system coolers will absorb all HDD noises. Overall, the new VelociRaptor provides as much acoustic comfort as the known leaders in this field, such as Seagate Barracuda 7200.11 and Samsung Spinpoint F1.

The same is true for the thermal characteristics. VelociRaptor remains slightly warm even under maximum workload. It feels cooler than any of the widely spread 3.5-inch drives. IcePack heatsink is definitely helping out here, however, the hard drive temperature remains on a comfortable level even without it.

During the tests in an open testbed the temperature of our VelociRaptor hard drives didn’t surpass 37ºC according to the readings from a built-in thermal diode.

So, regardless of the price, WD VelociRaptor seems to have no actual drawbacks, like a traditional Serial ATA HDD. Even the only existing issue with non-traditional location of Serial ATA connectors should be resolved in the near future. New IcePack case modifications will have these connectors located in the same spots as by 3.5-inch HDDs. This way VelociRaptor will be fit even for common server chassis with hot swap support.

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