capsule review

Western Digital WD VelociRaptor Internal Hard Drive

At a Glance
  • Western Digital VelociRaptor WD3000GLFS

    PCWorld Rating
  • Western Digital WD VelociRaptor

    PCWorld Rating

Western Digital picked an appropriate name for its new 10,000-rpm (rotations per minute) hard drive. Dubbed the WD VelociRaptor, this new drive roared through the PC World Test Center's performance tests in April 2008, besting all other models in the field at that time. (We have subsequently updated our Top 10 Internal Hard Drives chart.)

Most hard drives tend to show strengths and weaknesses in our tests, but the $300 VelociRaptor demonstrated its strength across the entire suite of hard-drive measures. In one of its most impressive feats, the VelociRaptor required just 89 seconds to write 3.06GB of files and folders, besting another strong-performing model from Western Digital, the Caviar SE16 750GB, by 32 seconds--a 26 percent improvement.

The latest in Western Digital's family of Raptor 10,000-rpm drives, the 300GB VelociRaptor also doubles the capacity of WD's previous-generation 150GB Raptor drive.

The company plans to market the drive to gamers and PC enthusiasts first, but the VelociRaptor is suitable for enterprise-class applications, too. The drive's rating for mean time between failure is 1.2 million hours, which puts it on a par with enterprise-grade drives.

Installing the drive was easy; but as soon as you take the drive out of the box, you'll notice that the VelociRaptor is no ordinary hard drive. Western Digital squeezed it into a 2.5-inch chassis; traditionally, desktop hard drives--whether 7200-rpm or 10,000-rpm models--are 3.5 inches long. (Though the drive itself measures only 2.5 inches, the VelociRaptor is designed to fit in a 3.5-inch drive bay.)

WD says that it chose the 2.5-inch form for a couple of reasons. First, from a mechanical standpoint, maximum flutter occurs at the outer edges of a spinning hard disk; but advances in areal density, even in smaller 2.5-inch disk platter designs, meant that WD could reduce the area, and still have double the areal density of the two-year-old 150GB Raptor drive.

Second, the company devised a new way to manage heat generation, which remains a major concern with hard drives, particularly 10,000-rpm models. Western Digital tackles the issue head-on by mounting the 2.5-inch VelociRaptor drive into a heat sink sled. The IcePack heat sink helps the VelociRaptor run cooler than the previous-generation Raptor; WD says that the Ice Pack reduces the temperature by about 5 degrees. And because the sled doubles as the VelociRaptor's mounting adapter, the 2.5-inch drive fits smoothly into a 3.5-inch drive bay.

The VelociRaptor WD3000GLFS shipped in RAID 0 configuration on the high-performance Alienware Area-51 ALX gaming desktop by the end of April. The $300 drive subsequently entered mass distribution at Western Digital's Web site and at selected resellers.

To comment on this article and other PCWorld content, visit our Facebook page or our Twitter feed.
At a Glance
  • PCWorld Rating
  • PCWorld Rating
Notice to our Readers
We're now using social media to take your comments and feedback. Learn more about this here.