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WD VelociRaptor 1TB and Scorpio Blue 500GB

WD’s VelociRaptor 1TB might be the fastest hard drive in the world, but it could also be the loudest. The new Scorpio Blue 500GB is a different kind of drive, a single-platter notebook model with ultra-low acoustics.

WD VelociRaptor 1TB and Scorpio Blue 500GB

June 10, 2012 by Lawrence Lee

Product
WD VelociRaptor WD1000DHTZ
1TB 2.5"/3.5" HDD
WD Scorpio Blue WD5000LPVT
500GB 2.5" HDD
Manufacturer
Street Price
US$270 US$75

Today we have a pair of hard drives from Western Digital that couldn’t be more different. The VelociRaptor 1TB is a high performance enterprise drive while the updated version of the Scorpio Blue 500GB is a notebook model aimed at mainstream users. Despite these differences, at one point or another, their predecessors were highly acclaimed by SPCR.


The WD VelociRaptor 1TB (WD1000DHTZ).

The first VelociRaptor was a favorite before the rise of solid state drives, delivering both high performance and quiet operation — once freed from its cooling frame. The new 1TB VelociRaptor looks essentially the same, a 2.5 inch drive attached to an IcePack, a metal caddy that acts as a heatsink and allows the drive to be utilized like a 3.5 inch model, useful for hotswapping in rackmount enclosures. The drive is secured with torx screws; removing it voids the five year warranty.


Detached.

A thin layer of foam sits beneath the drive while two thermal pads transfer heat from the drive’s toasty nether regions to the metal frame. The IcePack can be used as a 2.5 inch to 3.5" drive adapter for hotswap SATA bays, etc. but only with drives that have a 4-pin jumper block, which rules out most solid state drives. A three platter design, the drive itself is 15 mm thick, making it too big for laptops. Its 10,000 RPM motor is too power hungry for a mobile device, anyway.


The WD Scorpio Blue 500GB (WD5000LPVT).

At the time of its release, the original Scorpio Blue 500GB (WD5000BEVT) was impressively quiet considering it was the highest capacity notebook drive available at the time. Scorpio Blue is the moniker for WD’s consumer, 5400 RPM notebook hard drives, designed to be cool, quiet, and energy and cost efficient. The 1TB model we reviewed a few months ago excelled in all these areas.


New Scorpio Blue 500GB WD5000LPVT on the left, old WD5000BEVT on the right.

The new 500GB version, doesn’t have the same cachet as its big brother, but it does have the distinction of being a single platter drive, creating the potential for truly excellent acoustics and ultra low power consumption. The WD5000LPVT is 6.8 mm thick and weighs 90 grams compared to 9.5 mm and 117 grams for the old WD5000BEVT.


WD VelociRaptor 1TB & Scorpio Blue 500GB Specifications
(from their respective data sheets located here and here)
Model numberWD1000DHTZWD5000LPVT
InterfaceSATA 6 Gb/sSATA 3 Gb/s
Formatted capacity1 TB500,107 MB
Advanced formatYesYes
Transfer rate (max, sustained)200 MB/s147 MB/s
Cache64 MB8 MB
Rotational speed10,000 RPM5400 RPM
Average drive ready time8 seconds<3.5 seconds
Average power (W)Random Read/Write: 5.1
Seq. Read/Write: 5.8
Idle: 4.2
Standby/Sleep: 1.1
Read/Write: 1.4
Idle: 0.55
Standby/Sleep: 0.13
Average acoustics (dBA)Idle: 30
Performance Seek: 37
Idle: 17
Seek (average): 22
Dimensions (H x L x W)26.1 x 147 x 101.6 mm6.8 x 100.20 x 69.85 mm
Weight (+/- 10%)0.50 kg0.09 kg
Limited warranty 5 years 2 years

Head to head, it’s a big mismatch as the VelociRaptor has 8 times the cache, almost twice the rotational speed, and 3 extra years of warranty. The Scorpio Blue’s power and acoustic specifications are considerably lower, though, good qualities for a laptop hard drive.

TESTING

Our samples were tested according to our standard
hard drive testing methodology
. As of mid-2008, we have been conducting most acoustics tests in our own 10~11 dBA anechoic chamber, which results in more accurate, lower SPL readings than before, especially with <20 dBA@1m SPL. Our methodology focuses specifically on noise, and great effort is taken to ensure it is comprehensively measured and described.

Two forms of hard drive noise are measured:

  1. Airborne acoustics
  2. Vibration-induced noise.

These two types of noise impact the subjective
perception of hard drive noise differently depending on how and where the drive
is mounted.

Both forms of noise are evaluated objectively and
subjectively. Airborne acoustics are measured in our anechoic chamber using a lab reference
microphone and computer audio measurement system
. Measurements are taken at a distance of one meter from the top
of the drive using an A-weighted filter. Vibration noise is rated on a scale
of 1-10 by comparing against our standard reference drives.

Summary of primary HDD testing tools:

Performance Test System:

Performance Test Tools:

Benchmark Details

  • Boot: Time elapsed from pressing the power button to the desktop with all system tray icons loaded (minus the average time to get the "loading Windows" screen, 16 seconds)
  • COD5: Load time for "Downfall" level.
  • Far Cry 2: Load time for initial screen plus one level.
  • ExactFile: Creating a MD5 check file of our entire test suite folder.
  • TrueCrypt: Creating a 8GB encrypted file container.
  • 3DMark06: Install time, longest interval between prompts.
  • PowerDVD: Install time, longest interval between prompts.
  • Small File Copy: Copy time for 1,278 files ranging from 10KB to 4MB
    in size.
  • Large File Copy: Copy time for 4 files, 2 x 700MB and 2 x 1400MB
    in size.

A final caveat: As with most reviews, our comments
are relevant to the samples we tested. Your sample may not be identical. There
are always some sample variances, and manufacturers also make changes without
telling everyone.

Ambient conditions at time of testing were 10.5 dBA and 22°C.


Our hard drive samples were both manufactured in March 2012.

Real World Performance

A Windows 7 image loaded with our test suite was cloned to a 50GB partition
at the beginning of each drive and our entire
test suite was run start to finish three times with a reboot and defragmentation
between runs.
Average times were collected for comparison.

Right out of the gate, the new VelociRaptor has a nice start in our loading tests, eclipsing the old 600GB variant and even the OCZ RevoDrive, a PCI-E based SSD. Against recently reviewed notebook drives, the Scorpio Blue came in last, but its total completion time was only 0.4 seconds longer than its 1TB compatriot.

In application testing, the VelociRaptor 1TB attained the fastest times of any physical hard drive we’ve tested by a healthy margin. It didn’t come close to SSD numbers in the ExactFile test, however. The Scorpio Blue did a bit better here, beating out the 1TB Scorpio Blue but failing to catch the 7200 RPM Seagate Momentus 750GB.

When it came to copying files to itself, the VelociRaptor 1TB impressed, finishing ahead of a Kingston V+100 SSD. The Scorpio Blue brought up the rear.

The VelociRaptor finished our test suite with a mediocre result in timed installations of PowerDVD and 3DMark06. The Scorpio Blue finished just behind the Scorpio Black 750GB, one of the fastest laptop hard drives on the market.

Overall Performance

To more accurately represent the overall performance of the drives, we assigned a score of 25 to the drive that excelled most in each benchmark series (loading, application, file copying, and installation) and the rest proportionally, giving each benchmark set an equal weighting. Of the drives compared, the OCZ RevoDrive was the fastest, almost scoring the maximum possible 100 points.

In our real world tests, the new VelociRaptor was nearly 15% faster than its 600GB predecessor, a bigger leap than the second generation 600GB variant had over the first generation 300GB model. Its performance came close to SSD levels. The 500GB Scorpio Blue didn’t offer much improvement over the 1TB model, but scored ahead of the Seagate Momentus 750GB, despite having a slower rotational speed.

HD Tune Performance

Real world benchmarks are useful but they don’t portray the whole picture as drive speed varies across its span. HD Tune’s transfer rate benchmark measures speed across the entire disk.


HD Tune read transfer rate result: VelociRaptor 1TB.


HD Tune read transfer rate result: Scorpio Blue 500GB.

The VelociRaptor 1TB is an incredibly speedy drive according to HD Tune. Its average read transfer rate was actually 20MB higher then the 600GB model’s maximum, putting it in the same class as budget SSDs. The Scorpio Blue 500GB showed a bit of improvement over the 1TB version, a good showing for a 5400 RPM model. Its access time was a tad higher than most notebook drives, however.

Acoustics & Power Consumption



WD VelociRaptor 1TB acoustics.

In idle, the 1TB VelociRaptor’s acoustic character was very similar to older versions. At close proximity, it had a slight, but distinct whine that sounds almost electrical, alongside the usual whirl that most drives with spinning discs produce. Its seeks were incredibly sharp and frequent, chattering away like a frantic hail storm. In seek, it measured 32 dBA@1m, the highest level we’ve recorded for a drive.



WD VelociRaptor 1TB (bare) acoustics.

Taken out of its IcePack mounting frame, the VelociRaptor’s acoustics improved considerably, particularly during seek, where it dropped 5 dBA. The frequency also lowered somewhat, making it sound substantially less harsh. The previously noted whine seemed to be caused by the metal-on-metal contact between the drive and frame as it disappeared almost completely when the drive was tested bare.



WD Scorpio Blue 500GB acoustics.

The Scorpio Blue 500GB also set an acoustic record but for quietest idle notebook hard drive. It measured just 12 dBA@1m, barely above our anechoic chamber’s noise floor and it sounded completely benign with just a gentle hum. Seeks were audible but very soft and quiet.

Drive
Mfg date
firmware version
Vibration
1-10
(10 = no vibration)
Activity State

Airborne Acoustics
(dBA@1m)

Measured
Power

WD VelociRaptor.
300GB WD3000GLFS

May 2008
firmware 03.03V01
7
[bare]
Idle
[15]
3.9 W
[bare] Seek
[22]
6.2 W
WD VelociRaptor 600GB WD6000HLHX
August 2010
firmware 04.05G04
7
[bare]
Idle
[14~15]
17~18
4.2 W
[bare] Seek
[20~22]
24~26
5.5 W
WD VelociRaptor 1TB WD1000DHTZ
March 2012
firmware 04.06A00
7
[bare]
Idle
[16~17]
18
4.0 W
[bare]
Seek
[27]
32
5.3 W

While the new VelociRaptor delivers some substantial performance benefits over its predecessors, the noise it generates is a big step backward. In idle mode, it wasn’t too bad, only 1~2 dB louder than the 600GB version we reviewed two years ago, depending on whether the drives were bare or mounted in their 3.5 inch frames. Unfortunately, the seek noise of the mounted 1TB model is the easily the highest we’ve measured by about 4 dB. Power consumption and vibration levels were fairly good, similar to the older model.

Drive
Mfg date
firmware version
Vibration
1-10
(10 = no vibration)
Activity State

Airborne Acoustics
(dBA@1m)

Measured
Power

WD Scorpio Blue 500GB WD5000LPVT
March 2012
firmware 01.01A01
8
Idle
12
0.79 W (0.69 W heads unloaded)
Seek
14~15
1.65 W
WD Scorpio Blue 1TB WD10JPVT
July 2011
firmware 01.01A01
8
Idle
15
0.89 W (0.75 W heads unloaded)
Seek
16
1.86 W
WD Scorpio Blue 500GB WD5000BEVT
September 2008
firmware 01.01A01
7
Idle
15
0.95 W (0.8 W heads unloaded)
Seek
16
2.5 W
WD Scorpio Blue 640GB WD6400BEVT
September 2009
firmware 01.01A01
7
Idle
15~16
0.87 W (0.74 W heads unloaded)
Seek
16
1.95 W

The WD5000LPVT is quieter and more energy efficient than previous iterations of WD’s Scorpio Blue line. It is particularly impressive against the model it’s meant to replace. Our four year old WD5000BEVT sample used 20% more power in idle, and an astonishing 52% more in seek. The vibration level of the new drive was also excellent, similar to its 1TB brother.

One unusual thing we noticed about the new Scorpio Blue 500GB is that it puts itself completely to sleep after 20 seconds of idle operation, in addition to parking its head after 8 seconds, which is a typical power saving method for a notebook hard drive. The sleep function seems to be firmware-level, as this behavior persisted even when the drive was not connected to a system with a data cable.

Hard Drive Comparison Chart

7200RPM+ DESKTOP HARD DRIVES
Drive
Mfg date
firmware version
Vibration
1-10
(10 = no vibration)
Activity State

Airborne Acoustics
(dBA@1m)

Measured
Power

Hitachi Deskstar
7K1000.C 1TB HDS721010CLA332

February 2010
firmware JP4OA39C
5
Idle
13
4.6 W
Seek (AAM)
15~16
6.4 W
Seek
17
9.6 W
WD Caviar Blue
1TB WD10EALS

August 2010
firmware 05.01D05
7
Idle
14
5.2 W
Seek (AAM)
16~17
6.6 W
Seek
20
8.2 W
WD VelociRaptor 600GB WD6000HLHX
August 2010
firmware 04.05G04
7
[bare]
Idle
[14~15]
17~18
4.2 W
[bare] Seek
[20~22]
24~26
5.5 W
WD VelociRaptor.
300GB WD3000GLFS

May 2008
firmware 03.03V01
(bare drive)
7
Idle
15
3.9 W
Seek (AAM)
20
5.7 W
Seek
22
6.2 W
Seagate Barracuda 3TB ST3000DM001
November 2011
firmware CC47
8
Idle
16
6.4 W
(5.6 W >30 secs)
(3.9 W >50 secs)
Seek
16~17
9.9 W
WD Caviar Black
2TB WD2001FASS

August 2010
firmware 01.00101
6
Idle
16
6.3 W
Seek
21~23
10.5 W
WD VelociRaptor 1TB WD1000DHTZ
March 2012
firmware 04.06A00
7
[bare]
Idle
[16~17]
18
4.0 W
[bare]
Seek
[27]
32
5.3 W
Hitachi Deskstar
7K3000 2TB
HDS723020BLA642

August 2011
firmware MNGOA5C0
5
Idle
17
5.3 W
Seek
18
7.8 W
Seagate Barracuda XT
2TB ST32000651AS

May 2010
firmware CC13
7~8
Idle
17
7.0 W
Seek
18~19
7.9 W

When we throw other modern high performance desktop hard drives into the mix, you get a sense of just how noisy the VelociRaptor 1TB is during seek. Against the quietest 7200 RPM models, the VelociRaptor’s measured noise level was 10 dB higher, even after being taken out of the IcePack. On the bright side, its power consumption and vibration level is fairly good for its capacity, more or less the same as the 600GB version.

NOTEBOOK HARD DRIVES
Drive
Mfg date
firmware version
Vibration
1-10
(10 = no vibration)
Activity State

Airborne Acoustics
(dBA@1m)

Measured
Power

WD Scorpio Blue 500GB WD5000LPVT
March 2012
firmware 01.01A01
8
Idle
12
0.79 W (0.69 W heads unloaded)
Seek
14~15
1.65 W
Seagate Momentus
XT 500GB
ST95005620AS

June 2010
firmware SD22
7
Idle
13~14
1.34 W (1.16 W heads unloaded)
Seek
14~15
2.08 W
Hitachi Travelstar 5K500.B 500GB
February 2009
firmware PB4OC60G
8
Idle
14
0.7 W (0.6 W heads unloaded)
Seek
15
2.2 W
Seagate Momentus 7200.4 500GB ST9500420AS
March 2009
firmware 0002SDM1
7
Idle
14
1.1 W (0.9 W heads unloaded)
Seek
15
2.35 W
Seagate Momentus 750GB ST9750420AS
October 2010
firmware 0001SDM1
8
Idle
15
1.06 W (0.85 W heads unloaded)
Seek
15~16
2.60 W
WD Scorpio Blue 1TB WD10JPVT
July 2011
firmware 01.01A01
8
Idle
15
0.89 W (0.75 W heads unloaded)
Seek
16
1.86 W
WD Scorpio Blue 500GB WD5000BEVT
September 2008
firmware 01.01A01
7
Idle
15
0.95 W (0.8 W heads unloaded)
Seek
16
2.5 W
WD Scorpio Blue 640GB WD6400BEVT
September 2009
firmware 01.01A01
7
Idle
15~16
0.87 W (0.74 W heads unloaded)
Seek
16
1.95 W
WD Scorpio Black 750GB WD7500BPKT
November 2010
firmware 01.01A01
7
Idle
16
1.18 W (1.01 W heads unloaded)
Seek
16~17
2.28 W
Seagate Momentus 5400.6 500GB ST9500325ASG
February 2009
firmware 0001SDM1
8
Idle
16
0.8 W (0.65 W heads unloaded)
Seek
18
2.2 W

The physical characteristics of the new Scorpio Blue 500GB are simply top notch. Its noise level and energy efficiency is first class, undoubtedly thanks to its single platter design. In particular, the drive’s power consumption in seek is unbeatable. Many drives in the past have tried and failed to get below the 2W mark, while the Scorpio Blue consumed closer to 1.5W.

AUDIO RECORDINGS

These recordings were made with a high resolution, lab quality, digital recording
system inside SPCR’s own 11
dBA ambient anechoic chamber
, then converted to LAME 128kbps encoded MP3s.
We’ve listened long and hard to ensure there is no audible degradation from
the original WAV files to these MP3s. They represent a quick snapshot of what
we heard during the review.

These recordings are intended to give you an idea of how the product sounds
in actual use — one meter is a reasonable typical distance between a computer
or computer component and your ear. The recording contains stretches of ambient
noise that you can use to judge the relative loudness of the subject. Be aware
that very quiet subjects may not be audible — if we couldn’t hear it from
one meter, chances are we couldn’t record it either!

The recordings start with 5 to 10 seconds of ambient noise, then 10 second
segments of the drive in the following states: idle, seek with AAM enabled (if
applicable), and seek with AAM disabled.

Notebook Hard Drive Comparatives:

Desktop Hard Drive Comparatives:

FINAL THOUGHTS

WD VelociRaptor 1TB (WD1000DHTZ)

Once again, the latest WD VelociRaptor is a significant improvement over its predecessor, making it the fastest hard drive we’ve tested. The new 1TB variant is about 15% faster overall than the previous flagship 600GB model in our real world tests. It’s also the first mechanical hard drive we’ve encountered that put up numbers approaching those of a solid state drive. Impressive as that may be, it’s hard to ignore the acoustic cost. Even with the drive removed from its IcePack and its warranty voided, it’s still among the loudest hard drives when seeking. The 300GB and 600GB weren’t nearly as bad; they were reasonably quiet once the mounting frame was shed — the same cannot be said of the latest iteration.

The 400GB bump in capacity is a nice bonus considering the 1TB variant is being released at a price (US$270) similar to the 600GB model when it came out. Unfortunately, since then, solid state drives have gotten considerably faster, cheaper, and more reliable. Back in mid-2010, a high performance 120~128GB SSD cost about US$400. Today, the price of the 1TB VelociRaptor can cover the cost of a modern 240~256GB SSD, or a 120~128GB SSD plus a 1TB 7200 RPM hard drive, with change to spare. With the new VelociRaptor generating higher noise levels than its predecessors and the improvements in SSD technology, it’s even more difficult to recommend than the 600GB version two years ago.

WD Scorpio Blue 500GB (WD5000LPVT)

For a notebook hard drive, the Scorpio Blue 500GB performs exceedingly well in all categories. Its performance is similar to that of the Scorpio Blue 1TB; Both of these models compete impressively with Seagate’s Momentus 750GB, despite having a rotational speed of only 5400 RPM. Its physical characteristics also stand out. Energy efficiency, noise output, and vibration level are all excellent, among the cream of the crop of notebook hard drives. Our only complaint is its automatic shutoff feature that puts the drive in standby mode after 20 seconds of idle operation. Operating systems can put hard drives to sleep on their own so this seems like a completely unnecessary addition, epecially as the time period is so short. This is something to keep in mind if you plan on using the drive as a secondary storage device.

At US$75, the Scorpio Blue 500GB is currently one of the cheapest 500GB notebook drives you can buy, but note that 750GB drives are currently priced only a little higher, giving them much better capacity/dollar ratios. In particular, the 5400 RPM version of the Momentus 750GB can be found for just US$5 to US$10 more at some retailers, though we can’t vouch for its acoustics; the Scorpio Blue’s numbers do seem awfully tough to beat, though.

Many thanks to Western Digital for the VelociRaptor 1TB and Scorpio Blue 500GB
samples.

* * *


WD Scorpio Blue 500GB
wins the SPCR Editor’s Choice

SPCR Articles of Related Interest:

Icy Dock 2.5"/3.5" Drive Accessories
Hitachi Deskstar 7K3000 2TB Hard Drive
Tiché PC HDD Vibration Killer
Seagate Barracuda 3TB: 1TB Platter Behemoth
WD Scorpio Black 750GB & Scorpio Blue 1TB
Hitachi Deskstar 5K3000 2TB 5940RPM Hard Drive

* * *

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