Western Digital's 600GB VelociRaptor arrives a long two years after its 300GB predecessor, and the new product doesn’t disappoint. Once again, a hard drive carrying the Raptor name claims the crown for being the fastest desktop hard drive available. There is a bit more to add about the WD6000HLHX, as performance alone shouldn’t be the only factor in your purchase decision.
VelociRaptor vs. Flash SSDs
First of all, we have to separate this drive from the latest flash SSDs, which have delivered a whole new performance level. You'll inevitably have to pick a solid state drive if you want maximum performance. Still, it's very important to also look at cost and capacity.
Even in a few years, it won't be possible to substitute high-capacity magnetic storage products with NAND flash. Memory supply and overall cost issues cannot be resolved quickly. We have 256GB SSDs available today, but the price tags of $650 and up are more than many users would spend on an entire PC or laptop. Most 128GB models are available between $275 and $400, which still is quite a bit. You can go for entry-level SSDs at $150 or less, but then you end up at 30GB to 60GB and sometimes saddled with performance that even a mainstream hard drive can top. Our spring SSD roundup will shed more light on this.
Balanced Storage for Enthusiasts
WD's 600GB VelociRaptor closes the gap between high-performance flash SSD storage and high-capacity 3.5” hard drives. The WD6000HLHX offers much improved low-level performance and dominates each and every performance benchmark, including PCMark Vantage, proving that performance leaps are still possible. All of this comes with decreased power consumption and excellent performance per watt. The SATA 6Gb/s interface is good for bragging rights, but little else, since performance stays well within the boundries of SATA 3Gb/s.
I would carefully guess that this might be the last VelociRaptor generation based on the current design because the gap between flash for highest performance applications and high capacity storage is widening. The new VelociRaptor is an attractive choice—as long as WD remains reasonable with its pricing.
Update: After taking a look at Western Digital's final press release, it looks like the 450GB VelociRaptor will be priced at $299, while the 600GB model runs $329. Both price points are fairly lofty when you consider the 2TB Caviar Black at $279.