Background I picked up a 1TB VelociRaptor as an upgrade for my 1TB Caviar Black, which holds my gaming library. Currently SSDs are too small and expensive to fill this role. Whats new from the previous generation is a doubled cache size (64MB) and increased platter density (333MB from 200MB). We also get the dual-stage actuator from the 1.5TB/2TB Black variants, and the 4K advanced format. But more importantly, we get 1TB capacity which is viable for mass storage in many situations. System i5 2500K, GTX680, 8GB DDR3-1600, Gigabyte GA-P67A-UD3-B3, X-Fi XtremeMusic, Seasonic X 560W, Antec 902, 30" HP LP3065, Windows 7 SP1 (64 bit). The four drives tested are: · Hitachi Deskstar 7K1000.D 1TB (HDS721010DLE630), 1 x 1TB platter @ 7200 RPM. · Western Digital Caviar Black 1TB (WD1002FAEX), 2 x 500GB platters @ 7200 RPM. · Western Digital 1TB VelociRaptor (WD1000DHTZ), 3 x 333GB platters @ 10000 RPM. · Intel 320 SSD 120GB (SSDSA2CW120G3). Synthetics Here are HD Tune scores for the HDDs. HD Tune isnt accurate for reporting sequential performance on SSDs, so Ive included Crystal scores for Intels drive. The Hitachi posts very impressive sequential performance courtesy of its single 1TB platter, but the VelociRaptor is even faster, especially on the inner sections. Online Ive seen it crack 200MB/sec in this test. The Caviar Black is quite slow because of its low areal density. Even the mid-range Intel SSD does better than any of the HDDs with reading, though the VelociRaptor and Hitachi would write faster sequentially across most of their surface area. Looking at random access, we see the Hitachi being 50% slower than the Caviar Black, while in turn the VelociRaptor reduces the latency of the Caviar Black by almost half. Of course an SSD is light-years ahead of any mechanical drive, and HD Tune reports 0.061ms for this particular one. Games & Booting Cold boot times were measured from pressing the power button until the Windows login screen appeared. Games were measured with level and saved game loading. RAM is the speed of the game loaded from the disk cache, whereby the drive is removed from the equation. Its no surprise to see Windows boot time directly correlate to random access performance, so we see the drives assume their natural pecking order. The VelociRaptor is only four seconds slower than the SSD. Game I/O is mostly sequential in nature, though random access often plays a part too. In either case, the VelociRaptor cleans up in HDD space because it offers the best of both worlds. Its also very competitive with the SSD in most tests. Subjective Usage At idle the drive is only slightly noisier than the Black, so its quiet overall. It doesnt have any whine or significant vibration. Under load its a bit noisier than the Black, but its much more pleasant than the heavy grinding sound that I remember second generation Raptors having. Overall I find the noise level acceptable for the extra performance over 7200 RPM drives it provides. For OS use and applications first launch, it doesnt quite have the instant snap of the SSD, but its still responsive and very usable. Thumbnail generation in Explorer for lots of images seems subjectively as fast as the SSD. Conclusion This drive is absolutely perfect for my needs. Its easily big enough to consolidate everything onto one drive (including my 395GB gaming library) while leaving plenty of room for future storage needs. It also dramatically reduces a lot of SSD advantages in areas such as booting and game load times, while costing far less per GB.