The humble hard drive has become the forgotten son of the PC world. It is the one component in a computer that never gets replaced unless it dies, which is usually only after a decade. Sadly, the cornerstone of our data addiction has been usurped by the lightning fast SSD. The SSD has come a long way since the first generation drives and their dodgy firmware. With new features such as TRIM and wear-levelling, the durability and longevity of these drives has been increased dramatically with current drives expected to last for a decade. However, since these drives are still fairly new, that lifespan is not guaranteed. Besides, for all of these improvements, there is still one major issue remaining with SSD’s, price.
The price of SSD’s has been slowly decreasing over the years, but at current prices, they are still significantly more expensive than hard drives with the latter offering considerably more gigabytes for each Rand you spend. Because of the massive price difference, hard drives are still a necessary part of a gaming computer even if they present a performance bottleneck. But what if that bottleneck could be removed?
The Western Digital VelociRaptor is not a normal hard drive. Firstly, it is not a 3.5-inch drive but rather a 2.5-inch drive with a massive heatsink; that heatsink is necessary due to the fact that the platters inside the small drive spin at 10,000 RPM which is considerably faster than other consumer drives but normal for enterprise drives. Those spinning platters are supported by 64MB of cache and come with a five year warranty like any of Western Digital’s Black drives. The VelociRaptor 1TB drive is the largest capacity model in the range, and while it was originally designed for use in workstations, its performance makes it ideal for gaming rigs.
The two major questions that one needs to ask of the WD VelociRaptor is how does it perform and how much does it cost? In terms of performance, the VelociRaptor is the fastest consumer hard drive one can buy. Compared to a Seagate Barracuda 1TB 7,200 RPM drive, the VelociRaptor is on average 50% faster in sequential read and write tests delivering 148.5MB/s and 146.44MB/s respectively. While IOPS are not the strong point of any hard drive, the WD managed to deliver up to triple the IOPS that the Seagate drive could. The difference between the drives in terms of burst speed was not as great with the Seagate delivering 209.5MB/s compared to the VelociRaptor’s 245.3MB/s.
As was expected, the WD could not compete with the Corsair Neutron GTX 240GB SSD which delivered sequential read and write speeds three times that of the VelociRaptor. The difference in IOPS was vast with the SSD delivering up to 100 times the instructions per second and bursts speeds close to double that of the WD.
Furthermore, for all of that extra performance over more conventional drives, the WD VelociRaptor 1TB is not a cheap drive; at R2,900, it is almost as expensive as the Corsair Neutron GTX 240GB. This is where things become complicated. It is impossible to recommend purchasing a VelociRaptor 1TB instead of an SSD simply because it does not have the raw speed that is found in even the cheapest of SSD’s, but those same NAND flash drives can’t compete in terms of gigabytes per Rand. But the WD VelociRaptor 1TB does have a place in this world either as a games drive or a scratch disk for video editing tasks; tasks that require speed, high capacity and reliability. Simply put, this is the sort of drive you buy if you have a
decent kick ass gaming rig with an SSD and you don’t need to upgrade your CPU, GPU or RAM any time soon.