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Review: Raptors Among The Lambs
May 14, 2005
Author: Geno Manufacturer: Western Digital
Department: Hardware Model: WD740
Article Type: Review Time Spent: 2 Years
 
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Introduction




One thing we, as reviewers, strive for is continuity between reviewed items.  Apples compared to apples, as the old saying goes.  This isn’t always possible in computer related comparisons as we all know.  AMD vs. Intel and ATI vs. nVidia are perfect examples of components that do the same thing, but in different ways.  Taking this metric another step forward, we arrive at the wonderful world of baselines.  In order to establish our baseline for reviewing motherboards and other hardware, we have to select certain components as the ones we will use in all tests.

For high performance Hard Disk Drives and for this review, BoxGods will be using what we consider the first choice of PC enthusiasts, the Western Digital WD740.  In another article, we will cover our choices for mid-range SATA drives, and for the mass storage needs of a typical HTPC.

Western Digital unleashed the 36GB version of their now famous 10,000 RPM Raptor line of drives on the enthusiast market several years ago, and followed almost immediately with the 74GB version we will be looking at today.  I have installed both drives in countless systems in both single drive and RAID configurations without a single issue.  I have even window modded four of them.  The complexity of these drives, and the increased rotational speed and associated heat production, do not lend themselves to window modding. I would definitely advise against repeating my folly.  The first one lasted for two weeks then died a most spectacular death.   An autopsy revealed that the LED I had used to cast light on the beautiful innards of this drive had melted to slag and destroyed the drive.  None of the window modded drives lasted more than a month.


Specifications
 
Rotational Speed
10,000 RPM (nominal)
Buffer Size
8 MB
Average Latency
2.99 ms (nominal)
Contact Start/Stop Cycles
20,000 minimum
Read Seek Time (Average)
4.5 ms
Write Seek Time (Average)
5.9 ms (average)
Track-To-Track Seek Time
0.6 ms (average)
Full Stroke Seek
10.2 ms (average)
 
First Impressions


I saw my first Raptor too long ago to remember my exact thoughts, but these drives are certainly different in overall appearance.  The first thing one notices is the hefty nature of the drive.  It is heavy in weight and in look.  It has deep fins along the edges to help dissipate the heat 10,000 Revolutions Per Minute produce. It is solidly built without a doubt.

The business end features the now familiar SATA data cable and SATA power connector.  If your PSU doesn’t have these power leads, you can use a molex to SATA adaptor; or better yet, just use the standard 12v molex style legacy plug that is also provided on the drive.  Do NOT use both.  We also find the familiar jumper pins used on PATA drives for setting a drive to either the master or slave setting.  I have no idea why they’re included as this setting is not required for SATA drives.


Installing Raptors

There is nothing different about correctly installing a Raptor than any other SATA drive. Yes--they are heavier, hotter, and louder. That is the trade off that comes with anything high performance. The key word in the opening sentence for this section is “correctly”. You should already be installing your HDD’s with some form of rubber isolation mounts like the ones found HERE from FrozenCPU. You should also already be installing drives with good air flow. I know most people don’t, and with standard drives they get away with it. If you are not offended by a little extra noise, you can install Raptors that way also.

Special thanks to Staff Member Josh Allen for assisting with RAID installation and testing etc.


 
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