Western Digital Raptor WD1500ADFD - Bigger, Faster, Stronger

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Hard Drives can be sexy, right?  If that's the case then may we suggest getting out a bit more?  There's this bright yellow thing in the sky sometimes that's kind of nice.  People are OK too, really.  All kidding aside, we have a bit of show-and-tell for you here and Western Digital decided to up the ante a bit on appearance as well, with a version of the new Raptor dubbed "Raptor X".

A Closer Look At The New Raptor WD1500 Series
Native SATA 150, 10K RPM, 150G, 16MB Cache, NCQ

   

  

First, what might not be obvious to you, resides in the picture of the back side of the drive above.  The absence of the tiny Marvell 88I8030 Parallel ATA to SATA bridge chip indicates this version of the Raptor has true "native" Serial ATA electronics within.  Also above we've given you a look at Western Digital's special SATA cable assemblies that have a fantastic locking mechanism providing much better secured connectivity with the cable at the drive end of the connection.  The other end needs to remain a standard SATA plug to maintain cross-platform compatibility, but regardless the drive side of the cable has a far superior connector design, even if it's only available by WD and fits only on their drives.  And can you blame them?  These cables will be bundled in with full retail box versions of the drive but not with bare OEM units.

Then of course, last but not least is the Raptor X, pictured in all its geek-sexy glory.  The only thing that differentiates this drive from the non-windowed version you see above, is its clear polycarbonate window.  This version of the drive retails for $50 more than the standard Raptor WD1500 ($349 versus $299 MSRP) but for those of you with cold-cathode lighting, windowed side-panels and low-rider-pimped-rig-techno-bling, it certainly is macktastic yo! Errr, or something like that anyway.  It is pretty cool to watch the platters spin with the heads tracking back and forth.  Just make sure you're super careful not to scratch the window.  The material does seem to be rather prone to scratches from even the slightest abrasion.

A Note On Acoustics And Thermals:

We've spent many hours testing these new WD1500 Raptors and also took note of the drive's performance relative to thermal radiation and noise levels.  Suffice it to say that this drive is very much on par with the WD740GD Raptor drive in both of these areas.  We actually took an infrared temperature meter to the WD1500 drives and compared surface temps under load versus the WD740 and a pair of 250GB Maxtor DiamondMax 10 drives.  Both the WD740 and WD1500 series Raptors recorded max temps in the 105o - 109oF range under a full load HD Tach Write test.  The WD1500 actually exhibited the highest reading in one area of its casing where temps hit a peak of 109oF, while the WD740 topped out around 105o - 107oF.  The DiamondMax 10 drives were the coolest of the bunch, but not by much, registering in at 102oF or so.  All of our testing was done on an open air test bench, so thermals enclosed in a system chassis will undoubtedly be higher if proper air circulation isn't supplied.  Regardless, we would characterize both the WD1500 and WD740 drives as middle of the road in terms of their thermals.  They're 10K RPM drives that generate a bit more heat than most 7200 RPM drives but the variance is not that significant.

On the acoustics side of the equation, subjectively we would offer that the WD1500 and WD740 are also very similar.  These drives do have an audible whine on spin up and spin down that is perhaps more pronounced than many 7200 RPM drives but again we wouldn't classify their noise levels as offensive, even for those of you that are hell-bent on a super quite system.  By comparison, the 7200RPM DiamondMax 10 drives we tested along side the WD1500 Raptors, list a 25 - 38db acoustic specification, while Western Digital lists 29 - 36db (idle to seek noise levels) for the WD1500 series.  We would concur with these specs.  The Raptor WD1500 has ever so slightly louder spindle and motor acoustics than some 7200 RPM drives but under seek operations the heads are relatively quiet.  These new Raptors are pretty much middle of the pack as far as noise is concerned as well.  At least on our humble opinion.

Test System Specifications
nForce 4 SLI SATA RAID w/ NCQ
SYSTEM 1:
AMD Athlon 64 FX-60 (2.6GHz)

Asus AN832-SLI
(NVIDIA nForce 4 SLI X16)
(On board nForce 4 MCP MediaShield Storage Controller)

2x512MB Corsair PC3200
CL 2-2-2-5

GeForce 7800 GTX
On-board Ethernet
On-board Audio

Western Digital "Raptor" WD740GD 74GB HD X2
10,000 RPM SATA 150
Western Digital "Raptor" WD1500ADFD 150GB HD X2
10,000 RPM SATA 150
Western Digital "Raptor X" WD1500AHFD 150GB HD X1
10,000 RPM SATA 150
Maxtor DiamondMax 10 6B250SO 250GB HD X2
7200 RPM SATA 150
Western Digital "Raptor" WD360GD 36GB HD - OS Drive
10,000 RPM SATA 150

Windows XP Pro SP2
nForce 4 Drivers v6.82
NVIDIA Forceware v81.98
DirectX 9.0c

Our test methodology for all drives we benchmarked was fairly straight forward.  In tests like HD Tach, we installed the drives and left them completely unpartitioned and unformatted.  This allowed us to utilize HD Tach's Write performance test feature as well.  For our SANDRA File System and PCMark05 Hard Disk tests, we were required to partition and format all volumes whether in single or RAID 0 array configurations.  For single drives tests we set up a standard Windows XP NTFS partition, and then formatted the drives leaving them completely blank.  For RAID arrays we utilized nVIDIA's RAID BIOS menus to configure a striped RAID 0 array with the default "maximum performance" 64K stripe size.  Partitions were then configured with a 16K cluster size, formatted and again left completely blank for testing.  Our OS and all benchmarks were installed on a separate Western Digital Raptor WD360.

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