The Raptor X

The new Western Digital Raptor X hard drive takes all the technology that made the Raptor 74 GB model so impressive, and improved upon it in many ways.  The Raptor X still maintains the ultra-fast 10,000 RPM spin rate that is responsible for most of the high performance numbers that the Raptor’s provide over the rest of the hard drive world that is still running at 7200 RPM.  There are some very high end SCSI drives that run at 10k and even 15k RPM, but these aren’t really in the same enthusiast market (though the Raptors are great alternatives in the high-end server market). 

The cache on the new Raptor X has been increased from 8 MB to 16 MB, matching the highest cache size available in the consumer level hard drives today including Western Digital’s own SE16 line.  The drive still only uses two total platters, giving the Raptor X a density of 75 GB/per platter.  This high density level allows the drive to read even more data off the 10,000 RPM disk than the Raptor 74 GB did with a 36 GB/platter density level.  In general, the closer together the data is, the faster it can be read as long as stability and other issues don’t become a problem.

The transfer specification on the Raptor X is still using the 150 MB/s rate, which is a bit of a disappointment since we have seen SATA 300 MB/s become more common in high-end drives these days.  In all reality, the change in specs won’t really have a big performance benefit to the end user, having support for the latest technology is always key when addressing a PC enthusiast market. 

Another feature Western Digital added with the Raptor X is support NCQ (native command queuing) that allows the drive to dynamic reorder data access requests in order to create a perceived higher performing hard drive.  NCQ can be used to allow the data head to read information that is need to access that may be closer to its current location (thus faster to access) before getting to an earlier request that is farther away.  In my own testing and with the benchmarks and applications I used, NCQ doesn’t really have a positive affect on an end users system; the gains are more apparent on multi-user servers where random access to large numbers of small data are common.

The Raptors feature a full 5-year warranty from Western Digital as well, so you can have a steady peace of mind when buying.

The Window

Of course, the most talked about feature on the new Raptor X is the window that allows you to peer inside the case of the drive.

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The window is actually made up of a crystalline polycarbonate lens that provides enough strength to prevent someone from ‘pushing’ it in and damaging the drive while maintaining static discharge capability.  Basically, this window isn’t going to break on you and should in no way affect the life or performance of the product.

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In case you were wondering where the product labeling went to, Western Digital put it on the bottom of the drive in order to give the Raptor X the cleanest look on the top surface for case modders.

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Click to Download Video

Western Digital shows off a windowed Raptor X hard drive at work.

Scene-by-scene: having never seen a head on a hard drive in motion before, this video demonstrates the incredibly fast motion it takes across the spinning platter. 

If you haven’t already seen it, I posted a video of the clear windowed Raptor X in action from CES this past January.  If you are curious to see what it looks like when moving, and you can risk the possibility of being ensnared by the alluring moving head, then click on the image above to download the video from FileShack.

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