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Cheap RAID Ravages WD Raptor

Fast Or Reasonable Hard Drives?

PerformanceCapacityData SafetyCost
Single Drive (7,200 RPM)GoodSufficient to Excellentsufficient*Low to high: $ 50 to $ 300
150 GB WD Raptor (10,000 RPM)ExcellentSufficientsufficient*High: $ 200+
2x 160 GB (7,200 RPM)Very good to ExcellentGood to excellentinsufficient*Low to high: $ 50+ per drive
2x 150 GB WD Raptor (10,000 RPM)ExcellentGoodinsufficient*High to very high: $ 200+ per drive

* You should be well aware that every hard drive will die sooner or later; the technology is largely based on mechanical components, which have a limited life span. Manufacturers rate drive life span using MTBF numbers (Mean Time Between Failures). If you set up a RAID 0 hard drive with two 7,200 RPM drives you have to live with a twofold increase of losing data, because the whole RAID 0 array dies if either drive fails. Be sure to make regular backups of your important data, and you should even create an image of your operating system.

You can get 40 to 80 GB hard drives for very little money, and if you don't have any requirements for storage capacity these drives suffice even today. However, we recommend spending at least $50 to $70, because you can easily get 120 to 200 GB in this price range. We've already seen 250 and 320 GB hard drives for less than $100 as well. Spending the money for a 10,000 RPM WD Raptor will give you between 800 GB and 1 TG storage capacity in the form of 7,200 RPM drives.

If you do not require that much storage capacity, you can opt for entry-level 7,200 RPM drives. Two WD1600AAJS drives by Western Digital cost $55 each, and they will give you 320 GB storage capacity if configured in RAID 0 model. Hence you end up spending half the money, and getting double the capacity. But where do we cross the line between saving at the wrong end and reasonable cost savings?

7,200 Or 10,000 RPM? RAID 0 Or Raptor?

We decided to send all possible drive configurations through our benchmark suite. There is the single WD Raptor WD1500ADFD, the single WD4000KD, the Raptor in a RAID 0 setup and the WD4000 in a RAID 0 setup. We decided to use the 400 GB WD 7,200 RPM drive, since two of these match the cost of a single Raptor. Let's see if the "budget RAID" fades facing the Raptor, or if it holds up.

  • malveaux
    Great review. This is a very important issue for some people. For me, I don't like getting the most expensive new edge tech when I can get less expensive options. RAID is a very simple technology, but it happens to work better because like all things, more heads do better than one in a thinking contest.

    I would have been really impressed if you guys took 4 drives at 7200rpm and low sizes, like 80gig drives, and did a RAID 0 with 4 drives and compared that speed with them. The access time would have been the same, but for the cost, the read and write would have been retarded high and made it look silly.

    Then again, your electricity bill may be the difference in the cost, lol.