Areas for Improvement and Final Thoughts
The performance results pretty much speak for themselves as we mentioned during the various benchmark summary pages. The new Western Digital Raptor X is the fastest hard drive we have ever tested at PC Perspective, and I see no reason why this shouldn’t be the hard drive to own for the foreseeable future. Even though the burst rates weren’t the highest we have seen due to the lack of a SATA 300 MB/s interface on it, the Raptor X showed far superior performance in our sustained transfer tests, where it really matters.
In the end, the Raptor name continues to dominate the performance storage segment that Western Digital has all to its own.
The addition of a window into the Raptor X is probably the most unique and innovative move from a hard drive manufacturer we have ever seen. While I have no doubts that this won’t appeal to everyone, and not even everyone in the enthusiast market, Western Digital should be commended for making a product aimed at our group — no one else has really done it.
And indeed, as I found in my testing, watching the head of the drive move quickly back and forth across the platter during level loads and boot up can be quite addictive. It could even be seen as the first attempt to get a visual representation of storage usage patterns, similar to how Corsair introduced LEDs onto memory modules as way to view memory activity.
Areas for Improvement
In reality, there are only two places that I could tell Western Digital I’d like to see modifications to this Raptor X design. First, the move to a SATA 300 MB/s connection should have been done here — an enthusiast product that doesn’t meet the current highest specs on hardware is a little odd, though in their defense the performance difference’s would not have been that great.
I also still want more — more capacity! I understand the issue with creating higher density platters or adding more platters to a drive spinning at 10,000 RPM but that doesn’t mean I like it. To get the best of both worlds, I’d like the Raptor X’s speed with the capacity of the latest 500 GB drives on the market. I have seen some road maps that show the next Raptor revision will not be coming until 2007 so don’t expect much in this area any time soon. 150 GB (or 300 GB in RAID 0) should be enough for most users for now.
You will pay for all that speed of course. To get an Enterprise Raptor 150 GB drive, without the window, you can expect to shell out around $275-$300. If you want the clear windowed version the premium puts the price at a round $350. That averages out to $1.83/GB of storage and $2.33/GB respectively. Considering we can get 250 GB SE16 drives from Western Digital for around $115 ($0.46/GB) you can see that bulking up on storage with Raptors is going to be expensive. My recommendation (and what I have done in my personal system) is to use these Raptors as the OS, application and game installation drive and then use separate, cheaper and slower drives for storing your movies and music. This creates a good balance of performance and pricing in my view.
Both the Raptor X and the standard Raptor 150 GB are welcome upgrades from the Rapot 74 GB model we had grown so attached to. By doubling the capacity on the drives Western Digital made using the Raptor drives as a system drive even more inviting for those users with large storage space tastes. The performance on the Raptor X simply can’t be matched by any other hard drive we have seen and the addition of a window into the mechanics of the drive is truly a unique and fun offering.
Western Digital’s Raptor X drive (and the less expensive Raptor 150 GB) has definitely earned an Editor’s Choice from PC Perspective.
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