Since today is officially the first day of NAB (National Association of Broadcasters) Show 2012, it makes some sense that Western Digital is launching their newest hard drive and focusing it heavily on content production. The Western Digital VelociRaptor 1TB was originally shown to us back during CES and since then we’ve been eagerly awaiting to get one in our hands for testing since we had already reviewed the previous generation 600GB model.

Everyone knows that in today’s world we currently have two different camps, both of whom very well understand their place in the storage market. Companies like Western Digital and Seagate have finally come to admit that they understand the place for SSDs but also assert that hard drives still are not going anywhere. When you consider the fact that SSDs are still too small and still too expensive to accommodate people’s every day needs , you realize that many people are forced to buy a hard drive in conjunction with their SSDs.

In no place is this truth more evident than in the world of content production where people who do things like photo editing and video editing are dealing with ever increasing file sizes. As a result of these ever increasing file sizes, content producers find themselves looking towards ever bigger drives. Since bigger drives are becoming the norm, smaller SSDs simply don’t accomplish the job alone. Furthermore, as videos and photos become more high resolution, servers both in the cloud and locally require more and more storage, further feeding the demand of hard drives that was perceived to ahve been lost to SSDs in laptops.

VelociRaptor Specs
The 1TB VelociRaptor (WD1000DHTZ) looks much like its predecessor, the 600GB VelociRaptor, but with some notable internal changes beyond the obvious increase of 400GB in capacity which is a pretty significant achievement when you consider that this drive is only 2.5" and spins at 10,000 RPMs. The drive is still mounted inside of an IcePack 3.5" mount meaning that this is still intended as a desktop drive, and with appropriate cooling can be used as a 2.5" inside of servers. This is also a more environmentally conscious drive as it is already RoHS compliant and now features a halogen-free design.

The drive also comes in 250GB and 500GB capacities and abandons Western Digital’s previous capacities ranging from 74GB, 150GG, 300GB to the biggest 600GB. Like the 600GB VelociRaptor, the 1TB drive packs 64MB of cache and is also SATA 6GB/s. Western Digital claims that this drive not only draws less power than the previous generation, but that it also runs cooler. A claim that we’re sure to check out for ourselves. They also feature Western Digital’s NoTouch ramp load technology that enables their recording head to never physically touch the disk media to significantly reduce wear to the recording head and media as well as safer transport of the drive.


This drive also features some technologies which have been brought back from the previous generation VelociRaptors. Technologies like Advanced Format  and Pre-emptive Wear Leveling, which is a technology mostly reserved for SSDs. These technologies combined with WD’s newest technologies enable Western Digital to claim this drive to have a 1.4 Million Hour MTBF (mean time between failures) and a 5 year warranty to boot.


The drive is also extremely low power for being 10,000 RPMs as it only consumes ~5-6W under normal usage scenarios and has an operating sound of up to 37 dBA. This last point is probably our biggest complaint about the VelociRaptor and we will see whether or not Western Digital has made the drives quiet enough to be used inside of quiet environments.
Benchmarks

Benchmarking Setup:
Intel Core i7 3960X
Gigabyte X79-UD7
16GB of Kingston 1600MHz DDR3
Patriot Pyro 120GB SSD
NVIDIA GeForce GTX 680
Thermaltake Toughpower 1475w Gold

ATTO
ATTO is a very simple disk benchmark and is really used to test the theoretical maximum speed of the VelociRaptor 1TB. As such, we ran this test purely to see the maximum speed of the drive and compare that against the theoretical maximums of the 600GB VelociRaptor.

 

In our test, you can see that the 1TB VelociRaptor does a peak read of 229 MB/s and a peak write of 220 MB/s while the 600GB VelociRaptor did a peak of 155 MB/s read and 151 MB/s write.

AIDA64 Read Test Suite
In AIDA64, we tested the VelociRaptor against a whole slew of hard drives in the read test suite to get a real feel for the drive’s abilities. The VelociRaptor managed a Linear Read (Begin) of 206.2 MB/s then dipping to (Middle) 168.1 MB/s and ending at (End) 115 MB/s. For random reads, the drive obtained 130.7 MB/s and had an astonishingly high buffered read of 518 MB/s. The drive also had an amazing average read access time of 6.62 compared to 6.87 of the 600GB VelociRaptor. It was quite clear that in these tests, the VelociRaptor was the fastest hard drive in every sense.

CrystalDiskMark
In CrystalDiskMark we test the drive three times and take the average of those tests as CrystalDiskMark has a tendency of varying between tests. In our tests, the VelociRaptor once again out performed every single drive that we had tested by a pretty good margin and bested the 600GB VelociRaptor by quite a bit.

In our tests, the VelociRaptor 1TB was able to achieve sequential speeds of 214 MB/s read and 209 MB/s read, this is in contrast to the VelociRaptor 600GB which achieved sequential speeds of 165 MB/s read and 147 MB/s write. This represents an increase of 29% on reads and 42% on writes, when Western Digital had been claiming improvements of at least 25%.

HyperPi 1M
In HyperPi we extract the entire benchmark to the specific hard drive and then run the test and check our score. Interestingly, this yields us a broad array of different results with the exact same memory and CPU settings purely because of the storage used and its ability to cope with many small files moving across very quickly. The faster the drive copes with these files, the higher the benchmark score.

Looking at the VelociRaptor 1TB’s results, we were astonished to see that it had beaten the next fastest hard drive by a whole second, which we found pretty amazing. This is because the majority of our different hard drives resulted in HyperPi scores all within a second of eachother. The 17.2 second result of the VelociRaptor 1TB is in contrast to the VelociRaptor 600GB which was tied for being the fastest with the Seagate Barracuda XT 3TB.

PCMark7 – Secondary Storage Benchmark
In PCMark 7 we tested the drives by using the Secondary Storage benchmark which is primarily intended to test data usability. In this test, we actually had tested mostly SSDs so we added the 600GB VelociRaptor and the 1TB VelociRaptor just to see how they stacked up. Unfortunately for both drives, they were handily beaten by the three different SSDs.

The 1TB VelociRaptor attained a score of 2352 while the 600GB VelociRaptor came in at 2125. The next highest score after those two drives was the Patriot Pyro 120GB which doubled the score of the VelociRaptor 1TB with a score of 4730. The good news from this bit is that the 1TB VelociRaptor did outperform the 600GB by at least 10% which is good when you consider all of the different metrics used in this benchmark.

SiSoft Sandra – Storage Benchmark
The SiSoft Sandra benchmark was purely intended to be a head to head comparison between the 600GB and 1TB VelociRaptor drives. In this benchmark, the program takes two different tests and then compares both tests side by side to show how the drive stacks up. When measuring the drive’s speed in MB/s the benchmark actually takes the average speed between the lowest and highest speeds and does the same with the Random Access Time.

The 1TB VelociRaptor destroys the 600GB in actual read speeds, but in Random Access Time the 600GB somehow wins even though it lost in an earlier benchmark. This is the only blip in all of our testing that could’ve indicated that the VelociRaptor 1TB wasn’t the fastest hard drive in the world. We’ll consider it a statistical anomaly.
Temperatures and Noise

When it came to temperatures, we were able to extremely accurately measure the average temperature of the VelociRaptor 1TB and compare that directly against the 600GB model. Interestingly enough, the 1TB VelociRaptor ran so cool even through multiple heavy load tests that it had an average temperature of 26C. This tied it with the next coolest desktop drive that we had tested, the Seagate Barracuda Green 2TB. The only two cooler drives were both laptop drives which are traditionally cooler.

In terms of noise, we were a little disappointed with Western Digital and the VelociRaptor as we noticed almost no difference between what we had experienced with the 600GB VelociRaptor and what we heard from the 1TB VelociRaptor.

Value
At launch, Western Digital will be pricing the 1TB drive (WD1000DHTZ) at $319.99. The 500GB model (WD5000HHTZ) will be priced at $209.99 and the 250GB version (WD2500HHTZ) will sell for $159.99. All three drives will come with Western Digital’s 5 year warranty and all three will come with Western Digital’s IcePack cooling solution. As has occurred in the past, Western Digital will eventually offer the drives without the IcePacks as well. From what we’ve seen with this drive, that’s entirely doable without any major cooling adjustments. When you take into consideration the speeds and reliability of this drive, the $320 pricetag doesn’t seem all too bad.

Especially when you consider that the 600GB VelociRaptor launched for $279. While we would have liked to see WD release this drive for the same price that the 600GB launched at, the company has had to deal with the impact of the Thai floods and there’s a likelihood that the $320 pricetag reflects a $40 price premium as a result of the continuing drive shortage. While there is no denying that this drive is pretty pricey, there simply aren’t any bigger faster drives out there…

Conclusion
Western Digital has taken quite a while with the VelociRaptor 1TB considering that we reviewed the 600GB VelociRaptor back in 2010. It took them a little over a year to deliver a new VelociRaptor, but that was after a catastrophe in Thailand which likely bumped back the launch of these drives by 3-4 months.

Nevertheless, the Western Digital 1TB VelociRaptor does not disappoint, it delivers the absolute fastest performance of any hard drive we’ve tested and is likely to retain that position for the coming year until Seagate comes out with something to compete with it. We were a little dismayed by the amount of noise that the VelociRaptor 1TB produced and the fact that it was essentially the same as the 600GB predecessor, but that aside this drive is fantastic. You unfortunately won’t be able to use this drive in you audio production rig unless you run it in another room, but otherwise this drive is great.

Interestingly enough, if you look at how Western Digital marketed the 600GB drive, you’ll notice that it was marketed as an enterprise drive. But this time around, Western Digital has abandoned that marketing/branding and gone for more of a prosumer approach. We believe that Western Digital understands their market for these drives and if they will likely sell plenty of these drives in the enterprise as well, but don’t need to brand them as such.

Based on all of the performance figures we’ve been able to test this drive on and the overall quality and value of the drive, we’re happy to award the Western Digital 1TB VelociRaptor our Editor’s Choice for Prosumer.