At 10,000 rpm, the Western Digital VelociRaptor WD6000HLHX drive certainly spins faster than the competition. But do faster rotations per minute translate into faster performance? VelociRaptor drives have been out for two years; PC World Labs tests, however, show that they may not have as much advantage as they once did. Compared with standard desktop drives that spin at up to 7200 rpm, the VelociRaptor had a distinct edge. But the performance gap narrowed considerably when the latest VelociRaptor–one of the very few hard drives today with a 600-gbps SATA connection–went up against another SATA-600 drive, from Seagate. (The new VelociRaptor is also pricey, with a 600GB drive costing $329, as of 5/10/2010.)
Like its predecessor, the 600GB VelociRaptor (also available in a 450GB version, for $299) is actually a 2.5-inch hard drive, mounted into WD’s “IcePack” 3.5-inch drive sled that doubles as a heat sink. The drive installs seamlessly into a standard 3.5-inch drive bay. Its fast 10,000-rpm spec classifies it as the performance-minded drive to beat, and its 600GB capacity, though paltry compared with a standard drive’s 2TB, represents an impressive doubling over the previous capacity.
Tested over a SATA-600 connection, the drive continues to have a dramatic performance edge over SATA-300 drives. There, we saw performance improvements of 8 to 17 seconds faster, as compared with the 2TB WD Caviar Green WD20EADS. However, when compared with the Seagate Barracuda XT 2TB, the VelociRaptor finished in a statistical heat on our file-and-folder read and write tests.
The VelociRaptor is aimed at high-end servers (it’s rated for 1.4 million hours mean time between failure) as well as high-end PCs, including gaming-centric models, where every bit of extra performance boost may be appreciated by intense gamers. And for that slight boost and greater endurance rating, the VelociRaptor may yet hold appeal. But if you’re buying this drive to max out your SATA-600 rig, the $250 Seagate Barracuda may represent a better overall value for your needs: You get more gigs for your dollar, and comparable performance, too.