If you're after a normal hard drive for your new PC or upgrade project, this isn't it. In fact, the VelociRaptor is a radical drive for a desktop, not just because of its 10,000rpm spin speed, but also because it's a 2.5in unit that's surrounded by a 3.5in heat sink. It's aimed at gamers and anyone else who wants to build a super-fast PC, but there's a non-heat sink version that's aimed at enterprise environments.
Its 2.5in size may tempt users to try and squeeze it in to a laptop chassis, but it's important to note that it's not designed to be used in a laptop. It's thicker than a regular laptop hard drive, and it also requires 12V to run, rather than 5V. The small size of the VelociRaptor helps the overall speed of the drive, as it has smaller platters than a typical 3.5in hard drive and can therefore access more data over shorter seek strokes.
There are two platters inside the VelociRaptor, with each one capable of holding 150GB, so you don't get a large capacity compared to today's mainstream standards of 500GB and beyond. It may only be a 300GB drive (which equates to a 279GB formatted capacity), but the sole reason for the VelociRaptor's existence is its speed.
At 10,000rpm, its only competition in the desktop field is Western Digital's own Raptor drive. The VelociRaptor is the evolution of the original Raptor. While you may install the VelociRaptor as a second or third hard drive, it will be of most benefit if it's installed as a system drive, so that your operating system can benefit from the extra spin speed. In fact, if it's installed as a secondary drive to a 7200rpm drive you won't realise a performance benefit when transferring files between the two drives.
An optimal PC setup would see more than one VelociRaptor being used, which will provide very fast throughput when reading and writing files. We tested two VelociRaptors in the same system and recorded read and write times of 92.8 megabytes per second. If you compare this to a conventional 7200rpm setup, such as the one used to test the Western Digital's Caviar SE16 (WD6400AAKS) , you'll see it's significantly faster. This makes the VelociRaptor the best choice for anyone who needs fast disk access, such as anyone who edits and renders video. Copying data from one location on the VelociRaptor to another garnered a result of 54MBps, which is also a very fast time.
Because the VelociRaptor is attached to a large heat sink (which also acts as the frame that allows it to be easily installed in a mid- or full-tower case), it doesn't run hot. When you touch the heat sink, you can feel the warmth that it's absorbing. You'll also notice that for a 10,000rpm drive it hardly vibrates at all. This is a key issue for users who will be installing multiple drives in the same chassis, and it's of paramount importance to enterprise users. It's also a very quiet drive. During use, it was barely heard at all.
The VeliciRaptor doesn't come cheap; at $399, and with a formatted capacity of 279, its cost per gigabyte is $1.43, which is about one dollar more per gigabyte than a typical 7200rpm drive. That said, if you require the fastest performance possible from your PC, it's worth saving for a set of VelociRaptors.