Western Digital VelociRaptor WD1000DHTZ Review

Western Digital's Sixth-Generation Raptor

Western Digital wrote a chapter in storage history back in 2003 when it introduced the first Raptor. A 3.5” hard disk, it looked a lot like any competitor's disk, except for a small, performance-enhancing difference: the 37 GB WD360GD was the first consumer hard drive to spin at 10 000 RPM, a speed previously only available on expensive enterprise-class hard disks designed for the SCSI interface. But instead of SCSI (or even the then-ubiquitous IDE interface) Western Digital's Raptor employed a SATA interface, another of the company's bold moves.

The Raptor's innards were unconventional as well. Once you got under its hood, you found an IDE interface. SATA was achieved through a Marvell-based IDE-to-SATA bridge. Fortunately, the bridge chip did not noticeably limit the disk’s SCSI-like performance. Western Digital's WD360GD was put to use in applications where I/O performance mattered, like video editing. Its price, while steep, was still significantly lower than comparable enterprise SCSI-based drives. The rest, as they say, is history.

From Raptor to VelociRaptor

In 2008, the VelociRaptor succeeded three generations of Raptors. It maintained its 10 000 RPM spindle speed, but traded 3.5” platters for 2.5” ones, while keeping a external 3.5” form factor serving as passive cooling. The IDE-to-SATA bridge chip had been dropped back in the Raptor's second generation, so naturally the VelociRaptor employed a native SATA interface.

As SCSI became obsolete, the cool-running and power-friendly (relatively, of course) VelociRaptor model found more ideal environments, from performance-oriented desktop PCs up to business-class workstations and small business servers.

Then, 2010, Western Digital doubled the VelociRaptor's capacity to 600 GB and its interface bandwidth to 6 Gb/s. But would the company continue the family in the face of mounting competition from notably faster SSDs?

Yes, it turns out. Western Digital recently launched an updated generation of VelociRaptors, which we started testing as soon as they landed in our German lab. The highest-end model sports a capacity of 1000 GB, and the manufacturer claims a performance improvement of 25% over its already-speedy predecessor. Older VelociRaptors had no problem outclassing other SATA-based disks, earning the family a reputation as the fastest on the desktop. Needless to say, our expectations for the WD1000DHTZ are quite high.

Achim Roos
  • acyuta
    The Velociraptor at this price is simply not workable for me and for most people. For the cost of 1TB and some money saved, one can buy a good 120GB SSD and a Seagate 3TB. Seagate 3TB is not in the charts but I bet it will be only 10% slower than Velociraptor. This solution smokes out Raptor as a boot device and nearly matches it as a storage device.

    Even on a standalone basis, for me Seagate 3TB at $145 and 85-90% of Raptor's performance makes more sense that Raptor 1TB at $300.

    WD is living in a fools' world if they think that the premium they are charging on normal hard disks (because of `shortages') will be extendable to Raptor.
  • >mfw no ssd in comparison
  • vladutztg
    Did you test it without the heat sink ?
    What would be its temperature if you'd have done it ?
    Could it fit into a performance desktop replacement notebook like a M18x or a Clevo mobile workstation ?
  • belardo
    Where is the noise test? I bet anyone $1Million dollars, its louder than any SSD. :)

    Yes, its a fast drive. It is most likely the last Raptor to ever be made. For video work, a typical 5400~7200RPM 2~3TB HD will do just fine. Can buy two 2TB drives + a 120Gb SSD for a tad bit more money... and still have a much quieter running system.
  • aznshinobi
    For the price you could get a 1TB drive and the Crucial Adrenaline 50GB and combo them for a 1TB+50GB SSD cache. Half the price and probably just as fast.
  • Smeg45
    Why would I want an SSD in a gaming system? I need bulk capacity and this offers it in a fast package.
  • dragonsqrrl
    Damn that's a fast drive. Would make a great high performance scratch disk.

    The market for these drives has certainly shrunk in the past few years, and I doubt many enthusiasts and gamers would even consider buying one anymore. It's value is limited to those who need more performance out of their storage devices than your typical 7200RPM 3.5" drive can deliver. Production pros working with large volumes of high res assets and complex project files would probably see the most benefit from a drive like this.
  • dalauder
    I'm just confused...what is this drive for? It would get absolutely destroyed by an OCZ Agility 3 240GB, which I've seen for $130, I think--$140 for sure.

    If you're doing something where you specifically need 1TB of data accessible quickly all the time, this may have a niche, but it's a VERY SMALL niche. Almost everyone would find better performance paring a 240GB SSD with a 1TB HDD, using up 60GB on Intel's SRT, and 180GB for the SSD to be used as usual (Windows, programs, +60GB for projects/scratch).

    Considering the 256GB Vertex 4 is at $165 and the 256GB M4 hits $150, I'm just completely puzzled by Western Digital throwing money into developing such a device.
  • dragonsqrrl
    acyutaSeagate 3TB is not in the charts but I bet it will be only 10% slower than Velociraptor. This solution smokes out Raptor as a boot device and nearly matches it as a storage device.No, the raptor is actually quite a bit further ahead than that, especially in random i/o, where it has as much as a 2x performance lead on the 3/4TB Barracuda XT's. Even in sequential reads/writes (generally the performance strong point of 7200RPM drives) it still has around a 50% performance advantage.

  • rantoc
    The enthusiasts already have SSD's for at least their boot drive (or the whole system like me), a few might consider those for "bulk" storage drives but beside that i doubt its much market for the drive sadly. It don't no matter how impressive it is as a mechanical drive because it cannot compete with the SSD's. Still remember the first raptor, darn was it fast compared to the HDD's of that time before the SSD's came and change everything.