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You Want a 10,000 RPM Boot Drive


I recently used a Raptor drive a little bit and I really noticed the difference by far (compiling kernels, installation of things, etc). I may consider getting a Raptor myself after that. Bare in mind, however, it’s not all in the RPM’s. A lot of it has to do with seek times. On average in regard to IDE or large SATA disks, and a complete ballpark shot here, seek times are around 9.5ms. The better ones go down to 8ms at best. A Raptor delivers on this as it does something like 4.6ms, which is over half the amount of seek time as compared to the average. Also, a large cache will make a big difference (16MB cache in the Raptor).

Now, if you really want to get some disk speed, how about a 4 SCSI RAID strip? 15,000 RPM’s and seek times lower than the Raptor! Haha okay so it’s a bit overkill for sure and much more expensive. A Raptor, overall, is probably the best performance-to-price wise.


Actually, if you bought a WD3200ks or WD2500ks (320gb or 250gb) instead of the 150gb Raptor and short-stroke it to 150gb you’ll get close to the same performance for half the price.

It would also be quieter and generate less heat.

But don’t take my word for it…take Seagate’s

The conclusion of this paper is that short-stroking is not worth it, but of course the main reason for that is they’re talking about enterprise server SCSI drives, which don’t exhibit the same cost differential as the 150gb 10k Raptor vs. a 320gb 7.2k WD3200KS (i.e. half the cost).

Short-stroking is definitely worth considering if you’re on a budget.


Interesting, I just picked up a refurbed Dell Precision 380 (for ~GBP280) which came with a pair of Raptor 10,000 rpm 80Gb disks. I configured them as RAID 0 and Vista Ultimate rips. With all the company dev tools on board, office 2007 etc the box feels really snappy and mostly due to the Raptors. Compared to my other company 370 (P3-2.8) running 2003 + usual assortment of dev stuff, it’s night and day. I won’t be going back to 7200rpm on new builds/boxes again.

Dylan Brams: If we wanted your opinion about what OS to choose then I guess that would’ve been the topic of the article. Why is that the F/OSS crowd always feel the need to chip in with irrelevant and frankly waste of space comments such as yours.


The tests listed as proof that Raid 0 are either out of date poorly done or both.

As stated in Storage Review by storage review the tests were limited by the CPU.

Those tests were done in 2003-2004 computers have come a long way with faster CPU’s that are now dual core, Faster memory and far more refined chipsets as far as RAID is concerned as it is now mainstreem in the performance sector. Even my mothers year old best buy specal is significantly faster than all those test machines in every respect other than hard drive.

You can buy two low latency hard drives like the Hitachi’s 60GB and a 320GB storages/data drive for the price of the Raptor.

Sorry but the “you are not good enough” for RAID with no good data to back it up is rather annoying.


10,000 RPM drives? Why? So you can boot faster? Why not just run a
more reliable OS?

It doesn’t just improve boot times: everything is faster. I should know - my computer uses a Seagate HDD that spins at 10,000 RPM. Its response time is MUCH faster than my laptop, which has identical stats and a slower hard drive.

Jeff is right - a big secondary disk is required. Files are getting bigger and bigger these days, and you need oodles of storage to back up your music/home videos/other computers.


Based on my experience with the first generation WD 36.7GB Raptors, I disagree entirely.

I build a brand new system a couple years back, and I put 2x36.7GB Raptors in a RAID-0 array, hoping for a blazing fast system. It was margainally faster (measurable by benchmark, not by human observation) then the same configuration with higher end 7200rpm drives.

Next, I tried a single 36.7GB as a boot, the speed and day to day performance was identical to the RAID-0 configuration.

Third, I put the 36.7GB for the page file and temporary files, this was the fastest configuration yet, but only when actually paging. For the price of the two Raptor drives I could have purchased enough RAM to make up the difference in speed, plus a larger then 2x36.7GB single drive which ran quieter.

Skip ahead to when I installed Vista, Vista is substantially faster (to the human, as well as to timed bootups and other operations) on a 400GB Seagate 7200.10 NCQ+TCQ enabled drive then on the RAID-0 pair of Raptors.

The current generation of Raptors supports NCQ, which might make the difference, but I’m not sure I’d invest in them again just to find out.

Lastly, one of my Raptors has just recently started reporting SMART errors. Enough that I don’t trust it with anything important, but not enough to get WD to warranty the drive.

As far as noise, they are slightly noisier then the 7200rpm drives, but not substantially. Heat is a major factor though, if you don’t have adiquate heating in your case – Even to touch the Raptors are a lot warmer then any other drive in my system. I’ve currently got an Antec P180 case, which isolates the drives from the rest of my system and gives them private ventalation, even so, the power supply and two Raptor drives together put out more heat then the entire rest of my system, including two Seagate 400GB 7200.10 drives, and dual/SLI’d video cards.


D’oh… Apparently I can’t use a mailto: for my website URL. So sad.


I’ve too been working on this principle for some time, my first system had two fast small system drives (Quantum Fireball). I’ve just replaced that 2001 hardware with new stuff, and got a 36 GB Raptor. People double take when I tell them I paid more for a 36 GB drive than a 320 GB drive (my other drive) but the speed is immense. My previous system showed no performance improvement from hardware RAID (0, 1), my new system again has hardware RAID but I haven’t used it.


someone mentioned the pain of having to repoint all the installers to the non standard D:\programfiles

you can slip stream this setting in, or alternitively, just manually edit the registry after the install. Since you are getting a new harddrive, and will likely be reinstalling your os onto it, there is no reason not to slipstream your copy of xp.

just add these lines to the winnt.sif file either on the slipstreamed cd, or on the floppydisk’s answer file

ProgramFilesDir="C:\My Program Files"
CommonProgramFilesDir="C:\My Program Files\My Common Files"
ProfilesDir=“C:\Documents and Settings”

changing them appropiately.

the beauty of slipstreaming, is that windows uses these right from the get-go while instaling it… for me, program files never existed.

now its only a matter of relocating the swap file, and the temp directory, and violla, you can have a 1.5gig windows install partition.

only very old, or very poorly designed programs have problems.


I’m lazy, so I just buy whatever pre-configured PAP they have on DELL. I don’t rightly know why I emphasized those words, but I did.


I’m really glad you brought this up. I’m building a “new” machine as I write this and I’ve added 2 WD 74GB 10K RPM Drives in Raid 0. This machine is going to serve as my gaming/dev machine and I need all the power I can muster.

If you’re building your own machine I have these pearls of wisdom for you.

  1. Use a good cooling case (Coolermaster Stacker). If your case does not have good cooling, consider using water cooling (Kits around $100).

  2. When choosing HD’s, consider buying an external backup device too. You can build your own or buy a pre-made device.

  3. Once you have chosen a type of CPU to get and when deciding on the GHZ, get the lowest one which has the highest price difference. For instance, 1.8ghz for 100, 2.0ghz for 120, 2.2ghz for 150, 2.4ghz for 200. In this case, get the 2.2ghz.

  4. When picking a graphics card, $200 is the sweet spot. I can’t “prove” this empirically but my personal experience suggests this.

  5. Get a Large LCD monitor if you can afford it. (eg. Dell 24" LCD). Desktop space savings aside, the screen realestate is astrounding. Its GREAT for development especially when the width of code lines are enormous.

  6. Get a floppy. Nobody uses floppies these days…except driver manufacturers (SATA RAID for instance). Vista can use a USB key for drivers when installing (remember F6?) but XP must use a floppy.

  7. SATA1.5 or SATA3.0. The choice is simple. Sata 3.0 is the definitive choise. Make sure you Motherboards support this (most new ones do). Also make sure that you remove the jumpers from the drive before installing them since most drives are set to SATA 1.5 by default.

  8. You should be able to put together a very nice system for under $2000. If your going over, consider why bleeding edge is so important to you, then seek professional help :-).

  9. A flashlight, needle-nose pliers and multi-head screwdriver are necessary tp put a system together.

  10. Front Panel Audio/USB/IEEE1394 and power/reset are a pain in the ass to do since the require jumper manipulation. Know your way around these.

  11. Gone are the days of wide, white/grey IDE and floppy cables. You can get cables that are slim and small. Use them.

I hope this gives you all some help. Oh and lastly, I propose a addendum to the Programmers Bill of Rights. Something to the effect that any self-respecting programmer MUST build at least 1 pc from scratch in order to get credit for the other bill of right items. :slight_smile: Seriously folks, pre-made machines are easy/time savers etc but should not be an option for techophiles.



Good post Jeff

I have been running a RAID 0 raptor (2x74gb) setup for over two years now (backup on the important stuff of course) on my gaming rig and it works great. Biggest issue with creating a raid in Windows XP is (as several of you already mentioned) the need of a floppy drive RAID driver install. I would not recommend anyone to get a RAID 0 setup but for me it was an experiment. Two media disks on top of that as well.

However the memory setup is more important than the disk setup as of today (the SATA2 7200rpm disks are much faster than they used to be). As a gamer, I don’t use the page file/swap in Windows and if I run out of memory the game can rather crash than become sluggish (I’m allergic to swapping disks). Today 2GB of ram is on the edge of to little when playing battlefield 2 (project reality mod).


I’d probably be using a Raptor but for the fact that every Western Digital harddrive I’ve owned (bar, maybe, one) has gone wrong. Including my Raptor. That kind of puts you off buying them.


The discussions on here made me realize something that should be much more obvious.

Computer prices can’t be measured by how much you spend on your computer when you buy it–that’s meaningless. It’s how much you spend on your computers per year.

For some people that may not be much of a difference, but for most of us on here (I’m guessing) you’ve got a high-end computer for games, a middle of the road computer (or 3) for various server functions and a bunch of parts laying around.

Those who spend $2000 on a computer typically only do so once or twice–after a year they realize that there $2000 computer is the same speed as a brand new $700 computer, just somewhat time-shifted–yet they are stuck with this $2000 computer that is rapidly falling behind all their friends, but at $2000 you don’t just toss them after a year, do you?

I tend to start cheap, stick with whatever I have wherever possible and upgrade parts. I’ll throw in a new hard drive or video card when something forces me to, but mostly I coast along.

When it gets intolerable, I yank the newer components and put them into a system with a faster CPU (Whatever Fry’s has on sale as there $150-250 system of the day), so for me a new PC is rarely more than $400, but always capable of doing whatever I need (because if it’s not I upgrade it on the fly).

ps. Ram, CPUs motherboards are virtually never reusable between my PCs, in my experience by the time I’m ready to upgrade there is always a new RAM standard.

Occasionally I choose to wait a year to play a game rather than upgrading.

So far waiting and having a computer that’s always equivalent to last year’s $1300 computer hasn’t hurt me a bit, but then I don’t use my computer as a status symbol (there was a post on that a little while back…)

So now a 10k rpm is sounding good–maybe I’ll add that to my old POS and see what happens.


Is it really worth to invest so much in a 10000 rpm drive, when hybrids and SSDs, both promising to eliminate seek times altogether, are just around the corner?

I’d say, let’s wait a few more months and see what kind of revolutions these new types of drives bring to the storage world once they are mass-produced…


Fun! I just built a machine with almost an identical setup :slight_smile: One 36GB Raptor with 16MB cache (second generation I guess) for OS and applications and one WD 320GB KS-series for data.

The rest of my machine is surprisingly similar to your new Intel based machine, I use the cheaper mainboard and overclock a bit more aggressively but that’s more or less it.


for ultimate performance for a developer machine i recommend putting the whole source tree and build directories on a ramdisk.
use automated scripts to create/restore the ramdisk at startup and to backup the data at shutdown. buy an UPS and use a background task to store a snapshot every x minutes on disk.


I use a RAID array, much faster boots.


And to follow up, RAID0 is actually much faster than one drive. Application performance (WOW zone load time) and boot time both went up significantly. Benchmarks I ran on my system agree, as well.

I keep a third drive which gets nightly backups of all my data, so the halved MTBF is mitigated. I would have gone RAID5, but my chipset (NFORCE4) implemented it in software not hardware, without mentioning that rather significant point.

Sorry, but the myth that RAID0 doesn’t help is just that, a myth.


I agree with the boot drive recommendation. But I went even further than a 10K RPM drive, I went with a smallish 36GB fujitsu 15K RPM SCSI drive. If I was building today, I’d look for a 15K RPM SAS drive.

I would add one recommendation for your build regarding the hard drives. That is whatever data drive you buy, buy 2. So you would have 3 drives total. Not for any raid solution but for your backup solution. I keep my second one in a removable drive tray. I run Acronis True Image once weekly to backup my boot and data drives to that backup drive. The removable drive tray allows me to take the backup drive out and cycle the backups if I want or even to place it in my firesafe. You should not build a computer without the backup system built in to the design.