WD VelociRaptor 1TB and Scorpio Blue 500GB

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These recordings were made with a high resolution, lab quality, digital recording system inside SPCR's own 11 dBA ambient anechoic chamber, then converted to LAME 128kbps encoded MP3s. We've listened long and hard to ensure there is no audible degradation from the original WAV files to these MP3s. They represent a quick snapshot of what we heard during the review.

These recordings are intended to give you an idea of how the product sounds in actual use — one meter is a reasonable typical distance between a computer or computer component and your ear. The recording contains stretches of ambient noise that you can use to judge the relative loudness of the subject. Be aware that very quiet subjects may not be audible — if we couldn't hear it from one meter, chances are we couldn't record it either!

The recordings start with 5 to 10 seconds of ambient noise, then 10 second segments of the drive in the following states: idle, seek with AAM enabled (if applicable), and seek with AAM disabled.

Notebook Hard Drive Comparatives:

Desktop Hard Drive Comparatives:


WD VelociRaptor 1TB (WD1000DHTZ)

Once again, the latest WD VelociRaptor is a significant improvement over its predecessor, making it the fastest hard drive we've tested. The new 1TB variant is about 15% faster overall than the previous flagship 600GB model in our real world tests. It's also the first mechanical hard drive we've encountered that put up numbers approaching those of a solid state drive. Impressive as that may be, it's hard to ignore the acoustic cost. Even with the drive removed from its IcePack and its warranty voided, it's still among the loudest hard drives when seeking. The 300GB and 600GB weren't nearly as bad; they were reasonably quiet once the mounting frame was shed — the same cannot be said of the latest iteration.

The 400GB bump in capacity is a nice bonus considering the 1TB variant is being released at a price (US$270) similar to the 600GB model when it came out. Unfortunately, since then, solid state drives have gotten considerably faster, cheaper, and more reliable. Back in mid-2010, a high performance 120~128GB SSD cost about US$400. Today, the price of the 1TB VelociRaptor can cover the cost of a modern 240~256GB SSD, or a 120~128GB SSD plus a 1TB 7200 RPM hard drive, with change to spare. With the new VelociRaptor generating higher noise levels than its predecessors and the improvements in SSD technology, it's even more difficult to recommend than the 600GB version two years ago.

WD Scorpio Blue 500GB (WD5000LPVT)

For a notebook hard drive, the Scorpio Blue 500GB performs exceedingly well in all categories. Its performance is similar to that of the Scorpio Blue 1TB; Both of these models compete impressively with Seagate's Momentus 750GB, despite having a rotational speed of only 5400 RPM. Its physical characteristics also stand out. Energy efficiency, noise output, and vibration level are all excellent, among the cream of the crop of notebook hard drives. Our only complaint is its automatic shutoff feature that puts the drive in standby mode after 20 seconds of idle operation. Operating systems can put hard drives to sleep on their own so this seems like a completely unnecessary addition, epecially as the time period is so short. This is something to keep in mind if you plan on using the drive as a secondary storage device.

At US$75, the Scorpio Blue 500GB is currently one of the cheapest 500GB notebook drives you can buy, but note that 750GB drives are currently priced only a little higher, giving them much better capacity/dollar ratios. In particular, the 5400 RPM version of the Momentus 750GB can be found for just US$5 to US$10 more at some retailers, though we can't vouch for its acoustics; the Scorpio Blue's numbers do seem awfully tough to beat, though.

Many thanks to Western Digital for the VelociRaptor 1TB and Scorpio Blue 500GB samples.

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WD Scorpio Blue 500GB wins the SPCR Editor's Choice

SPCR Articles of Related Interest:

Icy Dock 2.5"/3.5" Drive Accessories
Hitachi Deskstar 7K3000 2TB Hard Drive
Tiché PC HDD Vibration Killer
Seagate Barracuda 3TB: 1TB Platter Behemoth
WD Scorpio Black 750GB & Scorpio Blue 1TB
Hitachi Deskstar 5K3000 2TB 5940RPM Hard Drive

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