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Western Digital Raptor 74 GB HDD Review - Page 1 of 1

INTRODUCTION

Western Digital is a leading manufacturer of entry level and mid-range hard drives for the desktop personal computer. With the arrival of Serial Advanced Technology Attachment (SATA), Western Digital and their competitors, which include Fujitsu, Hitachi, Maxtor, Samsung, and Seagate, are developing new and unique products in order to distinguish themselves in a highly competitive market.

Western Digital Raptor
Click Image to Enlarge

Western Digital announced the 74 GB model of the Raptor hard drive in September of 2003. As SATA becomes mainstream, the Raptor's exceptional performance has made it a popular choice among enthusiasts. The Raptor features a 10,000 RPM spindle speed and a 4.5 millisecond (ms) average seek time.

Western Digital Raptor Specs

The Raptor currently tops out at 74 GB of storage, but its speed sets it apart from mainstream hard drives.

TEST SYSTEM

This review contains synthetic and real-world benchmark results from the Raptor, which are compared to the results from mainstream SATA hard drives from Hitachi and Seagate. Hard drive performance is often determined by its interface, rotational speed, access time, and buffer size.

The test system consisted of the following components:

  • AMD Athlon 64 3500+ CPU (Winchester)
  • EPoX EP-9NDA3J Motherboard (nForce3 Ultra)
  • 1 GB GeIL Golden Dragon PC4000 DDR Memory (1T-2-3-3-5)
  • Western Digital Raptor 74 GB SATA HDD
  • Hitachi Deskstar 7K80 80 GB SATA HDD
  • Seagate Barracuda 7200.7 120 GB SATA HDD
  • NVIDIA nForce Version 6.53 Drivers
  • Windows XP Service Pack 1 (Clean Install)
  • HD Tach Version 3.0.1.0
  • PCMark04 Version 1.3.0 (HDD Test Suite)

The Hitachi Deskstar 7K80 (8.8 ms avg. seek) and Seagate Barracuda 7200.7 (8.5 ms avg. seek) have rotational speeds of 7200 RPM. All three hard drives are outfitted with 8 MB of cache memory.

HD TACH RESULTS

HD Tach is available for free for non-commercial use and measures access time, data throughput, and CPU utilization. The random access test measures the length of time it takes to physically position the drive head on the platter containing the requested data and is typically referred to as disk access time. The lower the access time, the better the performance.

HD Tach Random Access Test

The Raptor dominates in the HD Tach random access test with a result that is nearly 50% lower than the access times of the compared drives.

The next test measures sequential read throughput. Disk density and rotational speed have an adverse effect on this test.

HD Tach Sequential Read Test

The Raptor is a strong performer in the sequential read test as it supplies the system with 35% more data than the Hitachi and Seagate drives.

The burst speed tests the effectiveness of the memory cache sub-system and measures the speed of the hard drive and controller interface. Pre-fetching data is a bonus in this test.

HD Tach Burst Test

The results of the burst read test were surprising given the results of the Seagate hard drive. The test was executed several times for verification.

PCMARK04 HDD RESULTS

The following test results are from Futuremark's PCMark04 HDD Test Suite. A free version, with limited functionality, can be downloaded here. PCMark04's HDD Test Suite uses RankDisk, which was developed by Intel. RankDisk measures disk activity in a variety of scenarios that include Windows XP start up, application loading, file copying, and general hard disk usage. Results are in megabytes per second and a higher number indicates better performance.

PCMark04 HDD Tests

PCMark04 HDD Tests

In PCMark04's HDD Test Suite, the Raptor delivers increased performance ranging from 28% to 50%.

REAL-WORLD BENCHMARKS

A full installation of the latest PC games can require up to 5 gigabytes (GB) of disk storage. A majority of this data consists of high resolution textures, which translates into longer loading times as information is read from the hard drive and loaded to graphics and system memory. Games such as Far Cry and Half-Life 2 are perfect examples.

Real-World Benchmarks

As an enthusiast of the silent PC, I have endeavored to assemble the quietest system possible without the use of water cooling. With this in mind, subjective noise levels were noted to be higher on the Raptor. This is hardly a strike against the Raptor as most cooling fans will drown out the noise. For those of you building a silent or home theater PC, the Raptor may prove a bit too loud for your taste.

CONCLUSION

Western Digital has raised the performance bar with its line of Raptor 10,000 RPM SATA hard drives. The benchmark results speak for themselves as the Raptor's performance left the mainstream drives behind by a considerable margin. This performance comes at a cost however as the price per gigabyte is significantly higher than the standard 7200 RPM SATA drive.

Be that as it may, enthusiasts rarely look at the price tag when performance comes first. But when a 74 GB Raptor costs $185 and a 250 GB SATA 7200 RPM can be had for $110, the price versus performance ratio becomes less flexible. Is the added cost worth it?

Pros:

  • Blistering performance
  • Western Digital reliability
  • Command Queuing technology
  • More blistering performance
  • 5-year warranty

Cons:

  • Very expensive cost per gigabyte
  • May be too loud for silent/home theatre PCs

Please feel free to post questions/discuss further here in our forums.

Back to nV News

Last Updated on April 24, 2005


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