Until Western Digital released the VelociRaptor, 2008 was on track to be a year dominated by Solid-State Drive headlines. Western Digital has quickly put a stop to that and released a major roadblock for the adoption of SSDs for enthusiasts.
The Western Digital VelociRaptor is clearly the fastest consumer hard drive available, SSD or traditional platter based period. There are of course a few faster SSDs and SAS drives, but they are far from consumer class and what I am really saying is consumer priced.
When it comes to price, the VelociRaptor retained the same initial MSRP as the third generation 150GB drive, around 300 U.S. Dollars. The New Raptor is available at a number of e-tail locations in the US but at this time the price has yet to slip, so if you are looking to purchase now, the MSRP price is what you are going to pay.
When comparing the VelociRaptor to other enterprise 10K drives, the VelociRaptor really stands out from the crowd. All other 10K drives are based on SAS which requires either an expensive controller card or a motherboard with onboard SAS which is also expensive. Western Digital has really dealed a death blow to high cost 10K drives for small to medium sized businesses.
If I had a major complaint with the VelociRaptor, it would be the way the drive was rolled out with an adaptor bracket that does not comply with traditional standards. Western Digital has done a good job correcting the issue, but to be honest, SOMEONE should have caught this prior to launch.
From the "What Could Have Been" category, I am surprised to see that Western Digital only used 16 MB of cache, the same as the third generation Raptor 150. There have been countless numbers of drives released this past year with 32 MB of cache. I can only dream of the performance of a 32 MB cache VelociRaptor. I think a special edition is in order; sign me up for eight!