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

Western Digital VelociRaptor VR150 (WD3000GLFS)

The drive that we received for review is called the WD3000GLFS, and it is the first member of the new VelociRaptor VR150 family. While the brand name obviously is a modification of the well known Raptor brand, the product family is named after the product name and an addition of the per platter capacity (150 GB). Knowing that the drive is based on two platters it is safe to say that a 150 GB model is possible, though not yet on the data sheets. Such a model would increase the performance per Watt ratio, but it would have a negative impact on capacity per Watt. This, however, is not the target of the new VelociRaptor. The older 3.5" Raptor is referred to as the Raptor EL150, and it will still be shipped in 150, 74 and 36 GB capacities. According to WD, the new VelociRaptor will be available in the channel sometime in May.

The VelociRaptor VR150 WD3000GLFS has a standard 16 MB cache memory and is rated at the same specifications as the predecessors: there is a 5-years warranty, a maximum drive surface temperature of 60°C (140°F), which we found is more difficult to reach with the VelociRaptor. All 2.5" VelociRaptor drives for enthusiasts come pre-installed in a frame, which acts as a hard drive cooler and supports installation in 3.5" drive bays. This frame is called IcePack, and we found that it reduced the surface temperature of the drive by 4-5°C. The IcePack cools both the drive by dissipating heat to the aluminum on both sides of the drive, and by dissipating heat from the PCB using two thermal pads. Be advised that WD voids the warranty if you remove the drive from the IcePack. We measured a drive surface temperature in idle of only 38°C (using the IcePack).

Western Digital increased the MTBF rating (mean time between failures) from 1.2 million hours with the 3.5" Raptors to 1.4 million hours for the VelociRaptor. The main reason is the better stiffness and robustness of smaller form factors, together with the year long experience and know-how that goes into development of new products. According to the data sheet, the idle and operating noise hasn’t changed: WD stated 29 dB(A) in idle and 36 dB(A) when the drive constantly seeks data. In any case, noise levels have become more than acceptable in recent years, making almost all 7,200 RPM drives totally acceptable even in very quiet desktop environments. Once you quiet down your other components such as the power supply, CPU and graphics cooler you will hear the WD VelociRaptor working more than 7,200 RPM drives. In idle, we found it to be even quieter than 7,200 RPM drives.

According to the manufacturer, the IcePack installation and cooling frame decreases the drive surface temperature by an average of 7.1°C. Our first test results are similar, though at approximately 4-5°C at an ambient temperature of 21°C when operating on an open desk. Image source: Western Digital.