If you want the highest performance Serial ATA hard
drives available, there's only one manufacturer to turn to and that's Western
Digital. Its enterprise class Raptor hard drives are a hit among computer
enthusiasts. The Western
Digital Raptor hard drive achieves its
remarkable performance thanks to the high rotation speed of its platters. At
10,000 RPM the WD Raptor is definitely one of the fastest spinning Serial ATA
desktop HDD on the market, on par with enterprise level SCSI counterparts. While 7200 RPM drives are improving in performance by increasing platter density and putting larger caches on the HDD, Western Digital uses a "brute force" type method in increasing performance. It's not be the most elegant way but hey it works very well. ;-)
The only drawback to Western Digital's Raptor family
is the premium price it commands, and a relatively small storage
capacity. Conventional 7200 RPM desktop HDDs come in capacities up to 1TB
(1000GB), and 500GB models can be had for around $100US. Western Digital's 74GB
Raptor goes for around $130 USD, so you see what we mean. Still, a 74GB Raptor
will speed up the performance characteristics of a computer nicely, as PCSTATS
demonstrated in this review.
Western Digital alleviate the storage bottleneck with the
150GB WD1500AFHD RaptorX, a serial ATA hard drive with a clear window into
its inner workings. Western Digital offers two variants of its high performance
150GB HDD, the Raptor WD1500ADFD and the RaptorX WD1500AHFD. The difference
between the two is that Raptor 'ADFD' has a solid steel top while the RaptorX
'AHFD' has a crystal clear plastic see through top - so you can see the hard
drive platters spinning and the read arm moving rapidly back and forth. The
Western Digital RaptorX is the only hard drive on the planet that lets you look into the heart of the drive.
For the PC enthusiasts looking to impress, the RaptorX WD1500AHFD hard drive is the Ferrari
of data storage. Watching the platters spin and the read/write arms move
around is pretty cool. The 150GB
Western Digital RaptorX WD1500AHFD SATA hard drive retails for about $206
CDN ($196 USD, £96 GBP), and comes with HDD management software and WD Secure Connect SATA DATA cable.
Before we really get into things let's first take a look
at the official specs of the Western Digital RaptorX WD1500AHFD. The rotation speed is clocked at 10,000 RPM and the drive comes with a 16MB of onboard cache. The RaptorX is Serial ATA generation I compatible. Physically the drive is 26.1 x 147 101.6mm in size and weighs in at 600 grams. Power is supplied by either a SATA style power connector, or a standard 4-pin Molex connector. Though obviously, not both at the same time.
According to WD, the RaptorX WD1500AHFD is rated for average read and write times of 4.6ms and 5.2ms respectively. Its track to track seek time is a quick 0.4ms! WD also states that the WD RaptorX supports a sustained data transfer rate of 84MB/s from buffer to disk. Access times with the RaptorX (and indeed all Raptors) are about half that of a regular desktop hard drive!
Looking at the Western Digital RaptorX WD1500AHFD, it's hard not be impressed. The window is really cool, particularly when the read arm is in full swing. The plastic is very clear, but susceptible to scratching so use a bit of caution when handling the RaptorX.
The fins along the side hard drive case help keep the drive cool, a necessary addition because the high rotational speed generates a lot of heat.
The jumper pins on the hard drive serve no purpose for consumers, none should
be shorted out.
The Western Digital RaptorX WD1500AHFD has two platters with a total of four read/write heads. The RaptorX is relatively loud, idling at 39dB and generating 46dB of noise when seeking. The drive is not nearly as loud as some of the SCSI drives we have here in the PCSTATS test labs, but it's definitely louder than many Serial ATA drives.
During testing with the Western Digital RaptorX sitting on a desk, it is audible. At home I run two 74GB WD Raptors and don't notice them since the sound fades into background PC sounds.
According to Western Digital, the RaptorX WD1500AHFD class is rated to run in an environment temperature between 5 to 55 Celsius. If you're contemplating equipping a PC with a RaptorX, do it a favor and make sure the there is good system airflow in its direction. Active cooling is not necessary, but it isn't going to hurt either.