Western Digital VelociRaptor 1TB Hard Drive Review
Since the flooding in Thailand devastated hard drive production capacity, Western Digital's product releases have fallen behind as they’ve focused upon rebuilding and getting back to pre-flood production and development levels. An unfortunate side effect of this situation – besides the price of skyrocketing costs in the storage market– is models which usually have a fairly short lifecycle have been left to stagnate. Models such as the VelociRaptor line that were once considered cutting edge and worthy of their price premium with capacity have lost a lot of ground to both SSDs and the platter-based competition. The end result is the VelociRaptor line is no longer seen as an optimal solution for all but the most diehard of fans.
With such massive infrastructure damage this model stagnation and loss of competitive edge came as no surprise as the entire storage enthusiast community has waited for a return to true competition in a marketplace which has slowly been pushed aside in favor of solid state technology. If the recently released VelociRaptor 1TB is any indication, the wait is over as Western Digital is looking to retake lost ground.
The all new VelociRaptor not only has 1TB of storage capacity, eclipsing all but the most expensive SSDs, but also boasts performance specifications which are well beyond what has been available to consumers this side of the SAS and SCSI market. With an MSRP of $319, this certainly isn’t the least expensive HDD on the market but at about 32 cents per Gigabyte, the cost benefits may be there. This is fairly high for a hard drive, but is still in keeping with VelociRaptor’s tradition of being on the upper end of the price spectrum. It is also eons better than previous generation’s price per gigabyte and much better than the one dollar plus ratio entry level solid state drives demand.
Much like the previous VelociRaptor, the new 1TB model is a 2.5” based drive which ships in a large metal “IcePak” 2.5” to 3.5” adapter frame. The IcePak’s serves two purposes: it allows consumers to mount their new VelociRaptor inside the typical case and also act as a rather large heatsink to cool down the hot running drive. By removing the 2.5” hard drive from its IcePak we can see that the VelociRaptor uses heat pads to further increase the thermal transfer.
While the controller and cache is slightly different than what shipped with the latest generation Western Digital Black 6Gb/s model we reviewed, the underlying technology is similar. The VelociRaptor 1GB uses a dual core ARM controller and in order to boost the cache amount from 32MB found on the previous model to 64MB an external 32MB RAM chip had to be used.
The dual controller and larger cache are not the only things that have been carried over from the Black line. This new 1TB VelociRaptor is also the first to come with a dual stage actuator. What this means is the primary electromagnetic actuator moves the head and arm roughly into position and then a secondary piezoelectric based actuator located on the arm itself fine tunes the head positioning. This provides more precise head positioning and a performance boost as well.
The last upgrade this new model has been bestowed with is platters with increased aerial density. It uses three 333GB 2.5” platters and while they may not be the densest Western Digital makes, they still represent an upgrade from the previous 200GB platters found in earlier VelociRaptors.
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