When the first 2.5in 300GB VelociRaptor drive launched almost two years ago (online at www.atomicmpc.com.au/?116946) we were very impressed not only with their capacity, but also their impressive speed. There have been a lot of improvements to hard drive technology in the past two years, and the new VelociRaptor definitely makes the most of them.
Running an increased complement of three 200GB platters versus the older drive's dual 150GB, the 600GB drive boasts an exact doubling in storage space as well as a twice-as-large cache of 32MB. It's got an updated drive controller custom-built by Western Digital's engineers, which they peg at roughly 15 per cent faster, mainly from optimisations to the cache structure, though we recorded it at 20 per cent.
Physically it's a 2.5in drive, though at a larger 12mm size that prevents its use in a laptop, and is adapted to a standard 3.5in size with the included IcePack heatsink. At idle we saw the drive hit 37 degrees, and full load after an hour of constant writes saw it top out at 45 degrees - the heatsink was actually doing something (it became warm), so minimal airflow is definitely a good idea. It also changes the SATA ports to the correct orientation for 3.5in hotswappable bays.
Performance of the 600GB drive was very nice, giving 132.4MB/s average read speeds and a burst of 247.5MB/s, with a random access speed of 6.9ms. While this can't quite touch an SSD, having six times the storage space is a hugely attractive plus. The SATA 3 interface that WD bequeathed the drive with strangely doesn't seem to affect performance much; while it gives a higher burst of 322.7MB/s, average reads and access times remain the same.
For a games, data or OS drive the VelociRaptor is damn near perfect, and it rocks in at a price much cheaper than an SSD - if you've got a lot of games, this is the only drive to pick.