Review Index:

Western Digital VelociRaptor 1TB Review - 10K RPM Hits a Larger Capacity

Subject: Storage

160GB (X25-M G2) Short Stroke Testing

We've seen various review sites take a larger 2 or 3TB drive and 'short stroke' it to match the capacity of the VelociRaptor. The idea is that you can use only the higher throughput portion of the larger drive, coupled with the fact that you are using less swept area of the heads (and therefore lower seek times), you coan get really close to - if not beat a smaller faster disk with a larger slower one. This generally does (did) work out for most performance specs, the big exception being that rotational latency of the slower disk would make it impossible to beat the faster one on seek times. Clearly short stroking can't break the laws of physics, but it does have its uses.

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Here I did a different sort of short stroke test. Instead of trying to make a larger drive act like a VelociRaptor (a losing proposition right off as the VR has *much* higher sequential throughput than any current competition), I decided to short stroke all models. Yes, even the VelociRaptors. The goal was to see how *all* HDDs perform when using a fixed capacity point. For that point I will be doing out Iometer test but limiting the sector range to the exact range of the Intel X25-M G2 160GB SSD. 160GB makes for a nice round number that many might use for their primary partition should they have their HDD storage duties split between OS and Mass Storage duties. Having the primary partition as a fraction of the whole drive is a good way to reduce seek times and increase overall performance. Here's how they all panned out:

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When short stroked, the RE4 did amazingly well despite it only being a 7200 RPM drive. What we did not expect to see was the 600GB VelociRaptor climb so much higher - even surpassing the new 1TB model. This may be down to tuning issues, and that the 1TB model may be optimized for full-drive access, but thats only a best guess.

April 16, 2012 | 10:45 AM - Posted by nabokovfan87

Hey Allyn,

Thanks for the review, glad to finally see this drive out. I use my pc for gaming, audio and video editing, as well as AutoCAD and other difficult tasks. I don't want an SSD considering the extremely high price when you get to large sizes (500 GB or higher). I need to replace or upgrade 3 drives that I have currently.

I can either get a WD black 1 TB as an OS drive, or buy one of the new 1 TB VRs. Of course the VR is going to be better, but would it really be worth the additional cost comparatively?

Lastly, I need to upgrade my 1TB/1.5TB backup drives to something of at least 2,3, or better yet 4 TB. The high space requirements leaves me with little to no options unless there is something coming down the pike soon. Would it be worth settling for a 2TB black, grab a lower end higher capacity driver, or simply wait for the WD black/blue 3-4 TB drives?

Money is an issue, so nothing INSANE, but you would be the one to help me out with this.


P.S. the other issue I have with even getting a 200-300 GB SSD is simply the unknown lifespan. I need a drive to last at least 4-5 years.

April 16, 2012 | 12:38 PM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

A sufficiently over-provisioned drive will outlast most spindle drives.

Did you ever wonder why companies make a 240 GB model and an almost identical 256 GB model? Yet other companies only have one level of over-provisioning for a generation. Intel typically.

April 17, 2012 | 02:36 PM - Posted by nabokovfan87

My software alone is 300-400 GB of data. Some of that is games, but most of it isn't. Lots of library files and such that need to be on the OS/Software drive.

I have never had a drive, traditional spindle last less then 5 years, even had some last 7. I would want an SSD to have several hundred gigabytes more then what I require to extend the life of it. A 500 GB or higher would be what I require, not what I want.

That being said, SSD surveys and so forth have indicated a dramatically shortened life then expected. It is an extremely young technology when you compare it to spindle based drives, and I will keep my money in those until I am certain data will not be lost.

April 16, 2012 | 03:37 PM - Posted by Allyn Malventano

If you are really pounding your OS drive with random simultaneous access (Autocad and Video scrubbing absolutely qualify), you should really consider a smallish SSD. For that sort of access you could effectively replace even three RAIDed Raptors and see better performance for those types of workloads. You just have to evaluate what stuff really *has* to be on the C drive, and start using another HDD for the other frequently access items. The VR can be very good for that task actually.

For backups, go big and cheap. I personally use Caviar Greens for backups, and RE4-GPs in a RAID for near-line storage (stuff that I frequently access but is not on the SSD).

For reliability, if it's a good controller and a solid product (Intel / Samsung), it will have no problem making it to at least it's warranty date. My original X25-M is still alive and kicking after dozens of TBs of bulk writes that I hit it with while researching the original Long Term Performance piece and all follow up articles and benchmarks. That drive is in constant use even to this day without so much as a hiccup.

Also consider that since SSDs have such insanely high IOPS on random reads, you can backup the SSD to your near-line HDD nightly if you wanted to. Backups are lightning fast and are usually limited by the sequential write speed of the HDD as opposed to the random read speed of the SSD. It's actually the perfect marriage of the two technologies, and you would always have a backup to cover you in the rare case that your SSD did fail.

April 17, 2012 | 02:42 PM - Posted by nabokovfan87

Thanks for the reply, really exactly what I needed. I will look into all of those, and I have for certain been considering a 250 GB SSD as a scratch drive or something to record FRAPS gameplay to. An hour of gameplay amounts to just above 200 GB.

Specifically, which samsung line is it that you suggest. I know you have the 830's which blew you away in terms of performance. I will try looking around and keeping an eye on sales for both brands.

As far as the rest goes, I think I will find a 1 TB on sale, use that for OS, and work on finding some 3 or 4 TB drives as a backup/data drive. And finally add that SSD for usage on certain things.

Thanks again man.

April 17, 2012 | 10:05 PM - Posted by Allyn Malventano

Once you grab that SSD, first try and OS/App install to it for a test drive. I bet you'll end up keeping it that way and sending your FRAPS stream to a VelociRaptor :). Definitely go 830 if you go Samsung. B&H recently had the 256GB for $280 shipped, but no longer. Keep an eye out for sales is your best bet there.

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April 16, 2012 | 10:44 AM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

Just one question, why no Hybrid Version?

I would think that would rock.

April 16, 2012 | 10:47 AM - Posted by nabokovfan87

Simply from what I have seen, they haven't worked out extremely well. They are good, but nothing really above a good drive such as this. The second attemps were improved, but still nothing compared to an ssd.

April 16, 2012 | 03:21 PM - Posted by Allyn Malventano

Any VelociRaptor would be an excellent base for Intel RST caching actually. The catch is that since all of the cached performance comes from the caching SSD, most people will just go with the cheapest and largest cost/GB (i.e. Caviar Green) for the HDD, since uncached random access would occur much less frequently, and you just get more room that way. Provided you already had the caching capable motherboard, you could almost buy a Caviar Green and a caching SSD for the cost of the largest VelociRaptor.

April 16, 2012 | 01:28 PM - Posted by mAxius

Al thanks for this nice review i know what my future os drive is going to be since i do not wish to take the ssd plunge till prices come down and capacities come up.

AL i would really like to see this drive paired with a Corsair Accelerator Series 60GB SATA II Internal Solid State Drive and see what numbers it puts up. Seeing how this may be the only way for people on an AMD platform to experience SSD Caching.

April 16, 2012 | 03:26 PM - Posted by Allyn Malventano

I'm working on a Corsair Accelerator piece at the moment, but for reference and consistency with prior pieces the results will be with a Caviar Green 2TB. Pairing the Accelerator with the VelociRaptor would only speed up uncached performance, so for cached stuff the caching SSD carries the benchmark results while the HDD sits mostly idle. Unfortunately there is no benchmark method for hybrid setups that can correctly evaluate simultaneous cached + uncached access (but I'm working on one).

April 16, 2012 | 01:08 PM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

SSDs are good but, price and no space.

spindles aren't going anywhere anytime soon. MORE RPMS!!!!

April 17, 2012 | 08:46 AM - Posted by Sublym3 (not verified)


Can you tell us anything about the noise levels of the drive?

Techreport has reported it is quite loud when seeking.

April 17, 2012 | 01:13 PM - Posted by Allyn Malventano

VelociRaptors have always been loud when being worked hard. I don't have hard figures to back it up, but the 1TB seemed identical to the 600GB.

April 17, 2012 | 11:38 AM - Posted by rrr (not verified)

Seems like it missed its time, for speed you're better off buying an SSD and experiencing insane IOPS. For storage, just get whatever cheap drive, maybe even green series for quieter operation.

April 17, 2012 | 06:13 PM - Posted by Margaret N. Kinnley (not verified)

Pairing the Accelerator with the VelociRaptor would only speed up uncached performance, so for cached stuff the caching SSD carries the benchmark results while the HDD sits mostly idle. Unfortunately there is no benchmark method for hybrid setups that can correctly evaluate simultaneous cached + uncached access (but I'm working on one).

April 18, 2012 | 11:07 PM - Posted by Angryfuture (not verified)

As someone who is using an orginal OCZ Summit 60gb, and 2x500gb Hitachi CinimaStars in raid 0.
I can agree with Al, throw your OS and apps on an SSD. And everything else on regular drives. I think youd be surprised at how much space you really DONT need on your main OS/APP drive if your storing all the large files on regular drives.

I test and use a bunch of VM's and Vmware+ VirtualBox sit on the SSD and all the VMs + Steam games sit on the Raid.

It was night and going from 2x74gb raptors + the 2x500gb Hitachi to the SSD and 2x500gb raid. And this was a long time ago. And SSD's have gotin even faster since. Time to upgrade the Summit.

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May 10, 2012 | 06:04 AM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

$269 online!!?!? ...even i can see SSD makes more sense :)

May 16, 2013 | 01:07 AM - Posted by Jayw654 (not verified)

I have a Samsung 840 Pro 128gb. While I like the drive as far as speed and doesn't help with storage. Because of this I chose a 3ware 9750-4i with 4 500gb velociraptors and I love those even more in Raid 0. Now as we all know that All spindle hard drives are fast at the beginning of an HD Tune test and slow at the end of the drive. So when I throw my number it will be at the lowest speed of the drive which I scored a 490MB/s a sec. This is impressive considering it's at the slowest point of the HD Tune test and access times are very livable at 6.6ms. Raptors are designed for 100 percent duty cycle over the course of 5 years while the Samsung Pro is designed for 75 percent duty cycle over the course of 3 years. Yes, I'm aware that the pro's have a 5 year warranty but most consumers won't reach more than 25-40 duty cycle and this is what Samsung is counting on. I, myself rely on my computer heavily and I want very advantage of longevity I can get so for space, longevity and reasonably close performance to SSD the raptors win over SSD drives for now.

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