Review Index:

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

Subject: Storage

Specs, Testing Methodology and System Setup


I have a habit of translating Western Digital's marketing speak when we cover specs. I'll continue this trend here. Some of these are not specifically listed by WD, but we know they are in there, so we will keep them here for your education:  

  • NoTouch™ ramp load technology — Previously called "IntelliPark".  Drive heads take an 'exit ramp' off of the platters instead of landing on the platters when the drive is spun down.  You know how the most damage is done to your engine when you start it on a cold morning?  This means the drive heads do not have to break stiction each and every time the drive spins up.  The heads are able to leave the ramp and float onto the spinning disk.  
  • Native Command Queuing (NCQ) — The drive can reorder groups of reads/writes to minimize overall head movement, and therefore increase effective access time.  Beware - this is only effective with an AHCI-enabled SATA controller.  
  • Perpendicular Magnetic Recording (PMR) — Bits are aligned vertically instead of horizontally to get more packed onto each platter.  Think dominoes (the game, not the food).
  • 64MB cache — Up from 32MB on the 600GB and 16MB on the 300GB VR.  Increased cache helps boost random access performance.  
  • Dual processors — Introduced with the RE4-GP line, the additional core helps the drive keep track of the added cache and increased throughput streaming off of the head pack.
  • RAID-specific time-limited error recovery (TLER) — The drive limits the 'hang' experienced on a read error in order to avoid a RAID controller considering the drive dead / offline.
  • Rotary Acceleration Feed Forward (RAFF™) — Rotary Acceleration Feed Forward (RAFF) takes the input from sensors mounted on the drive chassis and uses that data to help keep the head on track.  This keeps the heads where they are supposed to be for more of the time (ideally *all* of the time).
  • Memory path protection — The data path architecture has been modified to prevent silent data corruption along the internal data buses (i.e. parity bits).
  • Advanced Format — Introduced back in late 2009, this increases storage efficiency and robustness by having the drive handle data as 4KB internal blocks. This means error correction routines are not limited to 512B segments. ECC works better on larger chunks of data, and this gives an ~50% improvement in that area. The trade-off is random access fr blocks <4KB will suffer, but this is not much of an issue as the vast majority of file access is >= 4KB.

The load/unload spec (for the ramp load technology) remains at 600,000 cycles. 

Specific to this Review

Back in our Caviar Black WD1002FAEX (6Gb/sec SATA) review, we determined that the current Marvell 6Gb/sec controllers and drivers, while decent, fall a bit short of Intel's native controllers.  Luckily these days we have native 6Gb/sec from Intel and we are not stuck with these stop gap measures. My standing recommendation is to always use the native chipset when employng high speed storage. We've seen 15% drops in write speeds in some instances with the Marvell controller paired to high end HDDs (for some benches) - and that was comparing to a 3Gb/sec native controller!
Marvell controllers and drivers are not sufficiently refined for comparative HDD testing.
Test System Setup

We are currently using a Sandy Bridge test bed. We are using only the Intel SATA 6Gb/sec ports or any unit under test. PC Perspective would like to thank ASUS, Corsair, and Kingston for supplying some of the components of our test rig.  

Hard Drive Test System Setup
CPU Intel Core i5-2500K
Motherboard Asus P8Z68-V Pro
Memory Kingston HyperX 4GB DDR3-2133 CL9
Hard Drive G.Skill 32GB SLC SSD
Sound Card N/A
Video Card Intel® HD Graphics 3000
Video Drivers Intel
Power Supply Corsair CMPSU-650TX
DirectX Version DX9.0c
Operating System Windows 7 X64
  • PCMark05
  • Yapt
  • IOMeter
  • HDTach
  • HDTune
  • PCPer File Copy Test

April 16, 2012 | 02:45 PM - 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 | 04:38 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 | 06:36 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 | 07:37 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 | 06:42 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 18, 2012 | 02:05 AM - 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 | 02:44 PM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

Just one question, why no Hybrid Version?

I would think that would rock.

April 16, 2012 | 02:47 PM - 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 | 07:21 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 | 05:28 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 | 07:26 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 | 05:08 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 | 12:46 PM - 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 | 05:13 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 | 03:38 PM - 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 | 10:13 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 19, 2012 | 03:07 AM - 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 | 10:04 AM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

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

May 16, 2013 | 05:07 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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