WD's New Raptor Drive Is a Bird of Prey!


Our benchmark results speak for themselves and prove that Western Digital has done the right thing from an enthusiast standpoint. The new VelociRaptor WD3000GLFS will ship in May at retail prices of approximately $300, and it is the fastest and coolest 3.5"-like hard drive you can get for desktop PCs. WE say ’3.5"-like’ because it is a 2.5" hard drive that comes pre-installed in the IcePack frame, which provides efficient cooling and easy installation in standard 3.5" drive bays. The VelociRaptor provides the quickest access time, the best transfer rates, excellent application results, amazingly low surface temperature and an acceptable noise level along with its unorthodox product name.

Western Digital deserves kudos for being bold enough to take a huge step and transition its high-performance enthusiast and workstation-class Raptor drive from the 3.5" to the 2.5" form factor, although this transition is mainly taking place in the enterprise segment - where WD cannot compete in performance, and although the Raptor was beginning to be considered outdated from a performance standpoint: 3.5" 7,200 RPM provide faster transfer rates and a much better cost per gigabyte today, and the high-performance segment was being attacked by Flash SSDs.

Looking at the performance results, a maximum capacity of 300 GB and a price point of slightly below $300, it is fairly safe to say that Flash SSD may certainly be capable of threatening WD’s performance lead very soon, but this will only happen at capacities of 64 GB and 128 GB for the time being, and only at hefty price points. Flash memory densities aren’t high enough to provide higher capacity drives, and high performance 128 GB Flash drives will remain way above the $1,000 line for the time being.

The only drawback we found is the inability to drop the VelociRaptor into existing 3.5" hot swap bays, because the SATA and power connectors of the VelociRaptor aren’t located at the standardized position, which would be necessary for seamless upgrades. Despite providing best-of-class performance, WD has abandoned the important 3.5" entry-level enterprise storage market. But at the same time the product is ready for the era of 2.5" enterprise storage, where chances are much better now than they were years ago when WD failed at conquering the enterprise storage market.

Remember this logo, as it represents the currently fastest hard drive for high-end desktop PCs and enthusiasts, as well as workstations.

Achim Roos