Western Digital, a familiar name in the external hard drive arena, now ships high-performance EHD solutions. After the WD My Book Thunderbolt Duo that touted amazingly blazing speeds for users with Thunderbolt-compatible systems who required a blend of bulk capacity together with rapid throughput in a portable drive, now it is the turn of the WD My Book VelociRaptor Duo to carry on that tradition. The VelociRaptor Duo goes a step further in taking EHD performance by dramatically enhancing the write/read speeds when compared to its predecessors. As the name suggests, the only difference in this current Duo variant would be that it utilizes a pair of 1TB 10,000 RPM VelociRaptor WD hard drives in the My Book enclosure, thus enhancing the drives’ performance to almost 400MB/s. So here is yet another Thunderbolt-ready drive that has been added to the ever-growing successors of My Book desktop storage gadgets. The significant performance boost has been made possible by ditching the WD Green drives for the VelociRaptor mechanisms, as mentioned above. The 10,000-rpm drives in the enclosure together with the 10 Gbps Thunderbolt connectivity is the driving force behind the VelociRaptor Duo that challenges the performance of an SSD.
It would be apt to call this VelociRaptor Duo as a power-user’s dream. Well, it isn’t easy on the pocket, but then you cannot expect speed to be inexpensive can you??? It is possibly the fastest drives out there without having to shell out an atrocious number on some 6-drive array and it sure won’t take over your workstation. So if you are on a graphic or scientific deadline, then this is definitely your best bet.
Now, WD sure did make a late entry to the Thunderbolt game with their Thunderbolt Duo (in tossing in a thunderbolt-version of two 3.5-inch WD Caviar Green drives in the My Book chassis), but guess they caught up in the race with the introduction of the VelociRaptor Duo that performs decently well in comparison to the existing rival dual-drive gadgets, not to mention their attempt in keeping SSDs at bay.
It wouldn’t come as a surprise if there is this feeling lingering on your head that the drive looks awfully familiar. Well, it might look pretty much similar to its big brother (Thunderbolt duo), but in reality this is an entirely different beast beneath the jet black container that has two 10,000RPM VR drives spinning inside the enclosure. WD has also been kind enough to include a 50-dollar worth accessory in the box, a Thunderbolt cable (that was missing in the My Book Thunderbolt Duo), so that goes easy on the pocket. Also on board are two Thunderbolt ports that help in daisy-chaining the drive with other My Book devices or gadgets. In addition, there is also a provision to include a display port monitor to the chain’s end.
Even as the VelociRaptor Duo flaunts its rapid transfer speeds, there are quite a number of other noteworthy features too that it is capable of. For starters, the drive is shipped preformatted as Mac OS X HFS+ with the RAID o configuration in order to take thorough advantage of the drive’s speed and thus it is also Time Machine compatible right outside the box. Secondly, it comes with a Thunderbolt cable too (while most other Thunderbolt drives lack one), which makes it ready to be used instantly and is incredibly easy too. Again, the drive’s Thunderbolt ports can be easily incorporated into any Thunderbolt daisy chain. And last but not least, there is a WD Drive Utility application that comes in extremely handy when it comes to registering/ deleting / performing diagnostics / setting a sleep timer for the drive or even configuring RAID 0/1/JBOD settings, all within a couple of mouse clicks. It is worth mentioning here; however, that though users are allowed to change the format to JBOD or RAID 1, that doesn’t really make any sense as one would be compromising on the blazing speeds of the 10,000RPM drive in RAID o. Well, if you are too keen on the RAID 1/JBOD configuration, then might as well settle in for the WD My Book Thunderbolt Duo as the VelociRapter would be overkill.
The VelociRaptor is user serviceable too, meaning the internal drives can be replaced. You just got to open the lid with a gentle press and yank the handle, straight up, of the perforated metal cover and voila – there lies both the drives gleaming at you.
Once you manage to expose the drive cage, all you need to do is unscrew the thumbscrew and lift out another panel, and there you will be greeted by the two VR drives. This comes in fairly handy especially for those who often burn out HD mechanisms, video editors for instance. As the drives are pre-equipped with slide-in sleds, it is seconds before you replace the drives and you wouldn’t even need a screwdriver to do so.
However, you might want to be aware of the warning label put in there by WD that instructs that the drives have to be replaced ONLY with WD VelociRapter drives. Well, if it makes you feel any better, there is always a 3-year warranty on the drive that covers any problems relating to the unit. One can always claim replacements from WD during the 3-year span.
Though the benefits are in abundance with barely any notable downsides, one might want to be apprised of a couple of hitches too. The drive lacks both USB and FireWire interfaces and hence is compatible only with Macs that are Thunderbolt-ready. Then again, you can get around this issue with an Apple Thunderbolt Display (available @ Apple Stores for $100) that allows to hook up both FireWire 800 as well as USB 2.0 drives simultaneously to your Thunderbolt-compatible Macs/PCs. The most evident negative would be the drive’s pricing – one would have to shell out a hefty $900 for the 2TB model. While the performance offsets the price, there is; however, a school of thought that feels it to be way too heavily priced as a 4TB from the same company can be had at $600 (My Book Thunderbolt Duo). Guess, this should give a more clear picture of the same – while the VelociRaptor Duo is priced at 44 cents/Gb, the My Book Thunderbolt Duo comes at a meager 15 cents/Gb. On hindsight, the VelociRaptor still works out cheaper than SSDs like the Little Big Disk 240GB SSD from LaCie that comes at 900 dollars, which would be $3.75/Gb.
Getting to the chassis of the black VelociRaptor Duo, well it is no different from any of its big brothers of the My Book lineage. A single white LED lamp plays the role of an activity/power indicator towards the front. There is no power button of any sorts. Getting to the rear, one can have a glimpse of a Kensington lock port together with a pair of dual-channel 10Gbps Thunderbolt ports along with a DC input that originates from the power adapter. WD takes pride in the fact that they have kept the access to the drives as simple as possible. As mentioned above, a button click is all that is required to unscrew the chassis and the top plate, after which each drive can be yanked out. The VelociRaptor Duo will accept only VR drives, akin to the other drives of the My Book family.
The VR Duo seems kind of heavy at 4.18 lbs with both drives installed, which is actually a good thing given the fact that this is a desktop unit and is in no hurry to go anywhere. Again, with the sturdy rubber feet underneath and its weight, one wouldn’t have to worry about the VR Duo getting knocked down nor sliding around a workstation.
Elsewhere, WD provides users with a simple management utility that aides with rapid reconfiguration of the RAID either as two independent drives or to mirror the same. While the utility can be used to execute basic tests on the drive, it unfortunately lacks an extensive SMART reporting, for which one might have to procure a third-party tool.
Speaking of thermals, thanks to both the 10,000RPM drives, the enclosure idles at 21.2W and with load, you might want to be ready for a number as high as 25.6W. Now, isn’t that a lot of heat awaiting to be dispelled. This is something expected from all of these 3.5-inch HDD, where the thermals can pose to be a problem with continuous reads/writes. On being plugged without the Thunderbolt cable attached, the drive idles at 11W, with the figures rising to 15W upon being connected to a PC and goes on to 17-18W with both drives being used at full speed for a write operation. During operation, it is not just noisy, but generates a lot of heat too with the top grill evidently warm to touch and the Thunderbolt connector and the area surrounding it getting downright sizzling to such an extent that it can be annoyingly hot to touch fore more a couple of seconds. Well, noisy and hot would best suit a summer rock recital possibly, but not a portable unit, we guess. Thankfully, all of the above is handled well by the VR, as it is amply ventilated. There are rubber feet to keep the chassis slightly elevated, that lets in cool air via the grill at the bottom and tosses out the warm air through the top. Additionally, the enclosure has a fan on the insides that helps with circulation of air. Now, the best way to test the thermal performance (if you are the explorative kind, that is) would be to fill the VR up till its full 2TB capacity and check out for yourselves.
The internal fan of the VR Duo doesn’t really whine in a high-pitched tone, but there is indeed an audible groan. Again, it isn’t the drives that are loud, unless of course you choose to do more of random IO, wherein there comes a quick reminder that there are two 10,000 RPM spindles spinning in there. But then the drive/chassis easily looks to be the noisiest combo that one can have on their desktop. It, indeed is frustrating, but doesn’t really come in your way though. Especially, if you are someone into audio mixing, you are better off tuning your monitors up loud or simply put on your headphones. After all, you’ve got to pay the price for the speed that you get out of spinning those drives, ain’t it??
The VelociRaptor Duo’s speed gives the rival SSDs a run for their money. The drive approximately paces at less than 11 seconds to transfer a 1.2GB folder, beating the SSD-powered 120 GB LaCie Rugged USB 3.0 Thunderbolt drive (at 17 seconds) and is in part with the 240GB LaCie’s Little Big Disk Thunderbolt SSD (at 11 sec), and almost equal to the 6 TB LaCie 2big Thunderbolt Series (at 12 seconds). The drive literally shines at the AJA System test with drive transfers which is a routine with the video editing industry. The VR Duo blazes at 343 Mbps write speed and 374 Mbps read speed and beats hands down the 2big drive that boasts of read and write speeds of 320Mbps and 304Mbps respectively with the Little Big Disk boasting of read and write speeds of 476Mbps and 252Mbps respectively. So, we guess the Rugged USB 3.0 Thunderbolt and Little Big Disk (200MBps write, 380MBps read) would be a wise choice when all you have to do is to read huge chunks of data, but the VR Duo would be your best bet when you are looking at shuffling huge chunks of data to and fro the drive. Long story short, the VelociRaptor Duo looks to be the best friend in terms of speed for all those in the creative content arena like video editors graphic designers, and scientific experts.
Now it might not be as capacious as LaCie’s 2Big Thunderbolt, but it definitely is a speed demon. Again, it has decent write speeds with volumes too in comparison to SSD-powered alternatives like the Little Big Disk from LaCie and Rugged Thunderbolt solutions. However, the Promise Pegasus R6 is a BEAST in terms of speed and capacity, but woaaah check out its price tag. Again, the 1TB IoSafe Solo is nowhere near comparison as it clings on to its title of being rugged, fire-proof and let’s not forget the data recovery service, now! All said and done, the VR Duo is indeed a wise choice for any specialty-oriented PC users and Mac professionals whose priority is speed of a Thunderbolt.
Capacity: 2TB (Two RAID0/1 10,000 1 TB RPM WD VelociRaptor drives)
Dimensions: 6.50 x 6.20 x 3.90 in.
Weight: 4.18 Pounds
Interface: Thunderbolt X2
2 Thunderbolt ports to aid in daisy-chaining the device
Operating Temp: 5° C to 35° C
Non-operating Temp:-20° C to 65° C
Warranty: 3 years
- User serviceable
- Amazing Read/Write performance
- Read operations on par with an SSD
- Faster Write operations in comparison to an SSD
- Thunderbolt cable included
- Out of the box Time Machine compatible
- Dual Thunderbolt ports are daisy-chainable
- Simple RAID configuration options
- User-friendly bundled software
- Lacks USB/FireWire compatibility /visual capacity indicator
The unit manages to successfully deliver the promised performance of RAID o configuration on a Mac. Now, comes the question if the performance is on par with a hi-end SSD? Not really, then again not far off either. The fact still remains that one gets an awfully capacious 2TB storage hitting raw bandwidths of around 350MB/sec.
Beyond doubts, the WD My Book VelociRaptor Duo is indeed the fastest portable storage unit for the Mac platform in the current market. So, if we were to bring about a balance between capacity and speed, then a single VR drive should suffice, whereas the VelociRaptor Duo boasts of two of them. Hence, the drive would be perfect for creative personnel that require both lots and lots of space and high transfer speeds, but for the current lack of RAID o support for Windows.
In terms of design, well WD has kept it simple and humble, a rectangular box. One might not be a great fan of the plastic-y feel to it, but then the company has been smart enough to offset it by offering an easy way to gain access to the drives and scores high there. However, they could do better on the noise part and the heat of course.
Getting to the warranty, doesn’t a 3-year warranty sound like music to the ears. It sure will be appreciated by those possessing an personal storage device for a long time now. Agreed that your data is precious, but at least the hardware has been taken care of! Mac patrons desiring data redundancy can always reconfigure to a RAID 1 configuration if that can give you some peace of mind and not to worry Windows patrons, matter of time before RAID support is offered for Windows too, hopefully!
Last but not least, would be the most glaring issue – price. Well, agreed that it is awfully steep, but given the fact that while majority of the other external storage are offered with 7200RPM drives, the VR Duo comes with 10,000RPM drives. So aren’t we better off thinking of it as a premium that we pay for the new Thunderbolt interface and the additional throughput that brings about blazing transfer speeds.
Aside from a couple of gripes and the glaring high cost, it is very evident that WD has designed the VelociRaptor Duo for a particular segment and specific user in mind by offering amazingly speedy external storage via the quickest possible external PC link offered in the current market. Video patrons with a Mac backup would be all over this drive, i.e., if they can justify the price; Well, that is up to people and their needs!
|Model Name||My Book VelociRaptor Duo|
|Type of Drive||3.5-inch dual-bay external hard drive|
|Dimensions(HWD)||6.5 x 3.9 x 6.2in|
|Weight||4.18 lb / 1.9 kg|
|Drive speed||10000 RPM|
|Configuration||Pre-configured RAID 0 for maximum speed
Configurable to RAID 1 for data protection/mirror or
use the drives individually in JBOD mode
|Software Included||WD utilities|
|Sustained Data Transfer Rate||Thunderbolt: 10Gbps (max)|
|System Requirement||Computer with Thunderbolt connector
Mac OS X 10.6.8 or higher
|Other Features||Data Encryption
Time Machine Compatible
|Warranty||3-year limited warranty|