Western Digital Raptor X up close and personal
Rather than going into huge detail about the Raptor X drive, we will discuss a few of the technical details in brief.
The drive itself comes in only one form - Serial ATA interface with a maximum size of 150GB. The drive is simply a re-design of the Western Digital SCSI drives to use Serial ATA rather than SCSI or SAS. The drive supports Generation 1 SATA specs with support for NCQ. This means you are limited to a 150MB/s transfer rate between the SATA drive and the Host Bus. While the 300MB/s would be nice, Western Digital released a press statement saying that the 150MB/s would be sufficient, as the 300MB/s is only between the cache and the motherboard SATA controller.
When it comes to the Raptor X series of drives, it's definitely one for the books. The physical dimensions of the drive are no different than that of any other on the market; however, this is where things end. The drive weighs in quite heavy. To hold this drive and a drive from Seagate in your hands, the Western Digital feels like a brick compared to the Seagate drive.
On the side of the drive are cooling fins, since this drive runs at a massive 10,000RPM's and heat builds up very quickly. To combat this, the drives outer casing is designed to flow air across the drive to keep things cool. For best results, placing this drive at the front of the case just in front of the intake fan will keep this drive very happy.
The bottom side of the drive reveals the controller circuitry. This drive is totally different in terms of its layout compared to other Western Digital Hard Disks. Normally the PCB of a WD Hard Disk extends almost half the drive with very cheap power connectors to the drive motors. The Raptor X uses a similar circuit layout to their server drives. All of the controller chips as well as the cache modules are sandwiched between the drives lower casing and the PCB.
The back of the drive houses the connectors. Western Digital provides two power plugs, one SATA and one Molex. If you don't have a PSU with the SATA power ports as standard, you can use the Molex HDD power connectors instead. The SATA data port uses the new click connect attachments. While having the layout of a SATA-II drive, the Raptor X doesn't support the 3Gbps transfer rates that the new standard provides. The Raptor X does add support for Native Command Queuing, something that was lacking in the last generation of Raptor drives.
The Raptor X is the first drive of its type for the case modders. There have been users in the past who have done their own window mods to their hard drives but Western Digital have gone a step further and done it for you. While they may look good, these home modified drives are doomed to a quick death.
Hard drives are vacuum sealed from the factory to prevent the entry of foreign matter on the drive platters. When you open a drive you allow air, moisture and foreign matter into the drive, which results in bad sectors, data corruption and eventually, rendering the drive totally useless. The Raptor X has a factory built in window allowing you to view the drive platters and heads at work, which is a much safer option than doing the mod yourself.
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