The 10K Survey

We asked you about the 10K Western Digital Raptors a little while back.

Thanks to all who responded.

We’re going to break the data into two: between those who current own one and those that don’t. Most of the questions were aimed at one group or the other, so the answers will come from one group or the other.

Question 1

Do you own a Raptor?

a) Yes
b) No

About a third of those surveyed said they had one. I wouldn’t take that as a necessarily significant figure (those who have one would be a lot more likely to answer than those that don’t), but it’s probably safe to say that they’re not some sort of freaky rarity on the desktop.

Question 2

If you own a Raptor, are you glad you bought one?

a) Yes
b) No

Raptor Owners Said:

Yes

96%

No

4%

From their votes and comments, Raptor owners were quite happy about their drives, and as you’ll see in their comments the next page.
What might be of interest to non-Raptor owners is that there was little complaint about heat and noise, two factors that Raptor owners
fairly often cited as reasons not to own one.

Speed, of course, was generally the most important reason why people bought Raptors, but increased reliability was not far behind. Quite a few people cited multiple hard drive failures (especially from IBM/Hitachi “Deathstars” as they were universally called) and went to Raptors for a higher level of reliability.

Another trend found in the Raptor owner’s comments was “space fatigue.” As you’ll see, many said, “Yeah, they’re on the small side, but how much space do I really need?”

Many balanced out the need for speed and the need for space by using the Raptors for OS and programs, and 7200 rpm hard drives for data.

Positive Raptor Reports…

Positive Raptor Comments

It’s very fast and quieter than my 80GB Seagate SATA V.

In my subjective opinion, the move from a WD1200JB to a Raptor has resulted in a worthwhile improvement in the time required for booting and application loading.

I am lucky enough to be in a situation where I am not particularly pressed for cash. So shelling out the extra green per gigabyte for a 10,000 RPM drive wasn’t a huge deal. I also already had a good deal of storage space. So the size consideration was not high on my list of priorities. Getting a high end drive seemed to fit with the computer I was building at the time as well. Plus, I like to try new things. I mean, looking at hard drive benchmarks only tells you so much. The Raptors score very well—significantly better than my current 1200JB. I wanted to know if I’d actually be able to tell the difference. I believe I can. I can’t really be sure though without some crazy double-blind stuff, and that isn’t going to happen. So am I happy with my purchase? Yes. Quite happy. If I were to add another hard drive to my current rig, would I get another Raptor? I think so. I was pleasantly surprised by the change to 10,000RPM. Perhaps I would be equally impressed with RAID 0 with decent drives. (I tried it a long time ago with a Promise Fasttrak100 and two IBM 75 GXPs. Woe.) In fact, if I were to add another drive, I’d almost certainly (like 95%) get another 36 GB Raptor. If I didn’t have my current one and were looking for just one new drive, I would still probably go for the Raptor, but it would be less certain—probably around 60% or so.

I’ve got 2 in a raid0 setup. They’re very fast (primary reason for purchase) and with the warranty I expect them to be very durable as well. So far I’ve had no issues what so ever. I’m also quite satisfied with noise and heat levels, especially considering the performance.

It’s fast and has 5 year warranty.

The fastest drives that I have ever owned, and very very
quite. Very good Raid performance, and seemingly reliability (so
far).

HD throughput is usually one of the biggest bottlenecks to overall
system speed so I wanted the best.

They are very fast and so far VERY reliable.

My hard drive needs have not been for larger drives, but rather,
faster ones. Buying a 120GB hard drive seems silly when 40GB space would
suffice just fine. And frankly, I have yet to find anyone (except
professionals) that use more than 40GB for O/S and applications. For MPEG or video
storage, a secondary 120GB+ drive will suffice, *if* you actually
need it. But with the Raptor, my boot-up times, application load times,
gaming, etc. are noticably faster.

Because it’s fast and I don’t need more than 36GB. Also, I
wanted SATA, and I would have had to spend approxiamately the same
amount of money anyway to get SATA (I just would have got extra
storage space). To me, HDD speed/performance is as significant, if
not MORE than CPU power. I guess that explains why I’ve got two
Raptors in RAID 1 (mirror, yes, I like performance but I need
security too) with just a Tualatin Celeron.

The raptors deliver a level of perfomance i didn’t think was
possible without SCSI. i used to be a SCSI freak, but then gave up trying to
hunt for SCSI burners and such. the innovation in optical drives was
occuring in IDE, so i went back to it. now the raptor delivers a HD in the
performance class of entry level SCSI HDs, and my 72GB RAID 0 raptor setup for
$250 performs better than comparable 72GB $250 SCSI HDs.

With CPU MHZ differences making very little noticeable improvements in speed, ancilliary components account for the most realized improvements. HDs are the slowest things in the PC as far as data goes, using a 10K drive with the specs the Raptor has, has made a noticeable improvement in the system.

Just my personal observances: this drive makes the perfect boot and application drive for windows. A second, larger and slower drive, for data purposes is the best configuration for those people who complain the Raptor isn’t big enough.

Noticeably faster in everyday work. Finally an affordable HD
that is great for high quality video-editing (speedboost + no framedrop).

The RAID is partitioned 20GB C: and 50GB D:. It is by far the fastest hard drive setup I have ever had. Load times are short and the combined cache works very well. My old machine has an optimized WD 120JB and now seems s-l-o-w.
I run the drive as my main system drive (OS and apps only), after having IDE raid fail on me and losing a fair chunk of data I was seeking the same sort of performance I was used to without having to go to scsi, and the raptor suits my needs.

I’d like to say that as a user that uses the raptors as they were designed (as OS/program drives), they do an extremely admirable job. They are fast, reliable, and quiet considering they are 10,000 rpm drives.

This is the snappiest machine I have ever used and fastest at booting up.

The performance is outstanding vs my previous IDE drives. The only alternative for me would have been a pair of Western Digital special editions.. Over the years I’ve figured out disk performance is more important than it used to be. 🙂

They are fast, quiet and have a 5 year warranty. Plus in RAID 0 on the ICH5-R southbridge, there is nothing faster in the ATA arena.

I believe that data I/O speed is probably one of the more pronounced
bottlenecks in computers. Not just pure I/O speed but latency as
well. The Raptor drive also offers high reliability (something I
value.) In my opinion, it has all the good aspects of a SCSI drive without
the SCSI-cost.

I’ve bought 2 raptors for Raid 0 setup on my Asus P4C800-E…as to why I’m happy with them: PERFORMANCE
I don’t need more GB’s…I want speed! And that’s exactly what this product offers.

The speed is just excellent (the Storage Review tests against Seagate 15K drives on a workstation sealed the deal for me), the noise and heat levels are very low, the warranty is like a SCSI drive, and the performance under RAID 0 is just incredible with the Intel SATA RAID; Windows XP loads in under 12 minutes on a 2.4C o’ced to 3.2GHz with a gig of memory on an Abit IS-7. And it’s only $133 a drive. What more can you ask for?

Have had about 15 7,200 drives since the first ones including the
WD 8meg SE when it first came out. The Raptor is noticeably quicker
than the others but not the difference going from the 5,400 to 7,200. It is
quiet and runs cool. I also find that 36 gig is more than enough for me for
most uses.

Fast drives, not as loud as the 2 Maxtor’s they replaced.

As a side note, if it’s useful, I was skeptical about the performance
increase of SATA RAID 0, and did not purchase Raptors for my last upgrade. I
have since seen 2 Raptors in operation in SATA RAID 0 on an 875P motherboard,
and the performance is amazing. I’m not talking about benchmarks, either, I’m
talking about stunned stares at the computer as it performs file reads and
writes *ridiculously* fast.

Cheaper than going SCSI and an easy option now for reliable RAID – they’re going to be paired with springdale / ICH5R motherboards.

Negative Raptor Comments…

Negative Raptor Comments

The high pitch whine was difficult for me to work next to. I found that I was feeling a sense of relief when I turned the computer off with them installed. Finally I surrendered after a week of trying to tough it out. I removed them and they are sitting in a drawer.

Serial ata support is questionable on some motherboards, the intel
onboard chipset is far superior to the AMD / nvidia ones I’ve had to
deal with.
The raptor performance is amazing in the seek times but the data
transfer rate can be bad – I BELEIVE this is a driver / firmware
issue – and there’s not enough “stability” in the SATA
controller area. Nonetheless it still feels fairly snappy.

The drive only really seemed to make a difference while loading maps
in games, like warcraft3, daark age of camelot. Also ive had nothing but
problems with SATA, and i have ZERO problems with normal or PATA. MY
first raptor i had to rma because of smart errors, my second i accidentally
broke physically. Aside from this, and to be honest it could be my mobo
(NF7-S). I have had a lot of problems with the 2 raptors, stuff like hard drive
corruption, smart errors, “read element failure” whatever
that is. Also i couldnt overclock as much while using one. Before i had one I could
run my AIUHB 2100 @ 12×200 at 1.93Vcore stable in prime95, i still have the
screenshot, but when i went to a raptor, if i tried tot run that
speed @ that voltage, id get illegal sumouts up the wazoo =/.

That’s it. I didn’t include all the positive Raptor comments, I did include all the negative ones.

Why I Don’t Have One…

Question 4

If you don’t own a Raptor, what is the biggest reason why you don’t

a) They cost too much per gigabyte
b) Cost is fine; they aren’t big enough
c) I have tons of unused hard drive space as is

Non-Owners Said:

They cost too much per gigabyte

59%

Cost is fine; they aren’t big enough

26%

I have tons of unused hard drive space as is

15%

From the comments made, the 59%-26% divide between speed and size is actually a bit closer than that. Many who answered cost as a factor tended to say,
“They really cost too much, and that’s why not, but they aren’t big enough, either.”

Question 5

If you said “they cost too much” in question 4, at what price per gigabyte would you buy a 10K IDE drive?

a) $3 a gigabyte
b) $2 a gigabyte
c) $1 a gigabyte
d) No more than the going rate for 7200rpm drives

Nonowners Said:

$3 a gigabyte

11%

$2 a gigabyte

51%

$1 a gigabyte

23%

No more than the going rate for 7200rpm drives

11%

This will make pricing the 72Gb Raptors rather interesting. The most acceptable pain point is about $2 a gigabyte, which the likely cost of the 72Gb will probably be $2.50-2.75 per Gb. Western Digital may find that relative minor price reductions could yield big sales increases.

Question 6

If you said, “they aren’t big enough” in question 4, what would be big enough?

a) 72Gb
b) 108Gb
c) 144Gb
d) More than that

Non-Owners Said:

72Gb

47%

108Gb

35%

144Gb

11%

More than that

7%

72Gb would satisfy many, but a third platter would satisfy most.

What Western Digital really needs is a 108Gb that cost $199. That sort of drive would most of the performance market that are willing to pay a reasonable premium for it.

However, they (and other hardware manufacturers) face a big problem.

Paying For Quality…

–>

Question 7

Indicate whether or not you agree with the following statement:

“Raptors carry a five-year warranty, which is the same as for SCSI drives, and much longer than it is for other IDE drives. A good part of the reason why Raptors (and SCSI drives) cost more is that to keep them working at least five years, they are built to higher reliability standards, so they cost more to make and to sell.”

a) I agree, and I’m happy to pay for the extra quality
b) I agree they’re better built, but I’m not going to pay that much for that level of quality
c) I don’t believe it

Raptors Owners Said:

I agree, and I’m happy to pay for the extra quality

80%

I agree they’re better built, but I’m not going to pay that much for that level of quality

5%

I don’t believe it

15%

Raptor Nonowners Said:

I agree, and I’m happy to pay for the extra quality

44%

I agree they’re better built, but I’m not going to pay that much for that level of quality

36%

I don’t believe it

20%

These numbers are actually skewed too much towards “I agree;” this was one question where comments said more than the votes.

Even some who owned Raptors, were happy with them, and said “I agree” then voiced doubts as to whether these drives really cost appreciably more.

This is rather disconcerting given what the Raptor actually is. Just holding one tells you immediately that it is built much differently than a regular IDE drive; it’s a lot heavier.

Raptors are also rated for a 24/7 duty time, while your typical IDE drive is normally rated for a 30% duty cycle.

Some may question, “Are they worth four times as much per gigabyte?” Well, a good part of the reason for the difference is that the current Raptors are single-platter, and single platter drives always cost proportionately more than multi-platter drives.

That being said, it’s probably not realistic to expect a multi-platter Raptor built to SCSI-like standards to get much below, say, $2 a Gb. That’s probably the real cost of quality.

Nonetheless, a rather large proportion of people seem unwilling to pay for higher quality or even recognize it when it exists. Even those who faced recent multiple hard drive failures often said, “Nope, I’m not paying.”

One extreme example of this belief was this comment:

“if there was an answer “d: BULLSHIT” i would have chosen that one instead. their statement is a double-edged sword, because they’re ADMITTING they skimp on quality for the 7200/5400 rpm drives. this is people’s data they’re taking potshots with. i think the whole 1-year warranty thing is ridiculous anyway. with storage, people plan purchases based on warranty, and decreasing the warranty by 67% only serves to hurt consumer confidence. if just one company would implement uniform build/quality standards across all products, regardless of price, they could corner the market. but fat chance of that happening…”

The problem this person has is that he doesn’t want to pay for quality. If a company were to actually implement “uniform build/quality standards across all products, regardless of price” that would mean the price of the low-end drives would go substantially, and then he wouldn’t buy one because somebody else was selling something else cheaper.

A lot of others seem to have milder forms of this problem. A sentiment often found in comments was something like, “I’ll pay more for quality, but not much more.”

The sad reality is the hard drive companies aren’t “taking potshots with” people’s data. The people are, by demanding lower and lower prices. At some point, you start cutting into bone.

It is also true that the average computer user really doesn’t need an enterprise-class hard drive for the hour or two a day they’re on the machine. A lesser drive suits them fine, just as people in Florida don’t need 100% goose down winter coats. A heavy cloth coat will do.

The people in our audience are more like people who live in Minnesota. They often need something a lot more heavy duty than the Floridian winter coat, but don’t want to pay any more for a goose-down coat.

It is one thing to not need a goose-down coat. It is quite another to say that a goose-down coat isn’t better, doesn’t cost more to make, or that the coat company is ripping you off by not giving you a goose-down coat for a cloth coat price. Demanding that a cloth coat keep you warm in the middle of a Minnesota winter can be fatal. 🙂

Those who bought Raptors and cited reliability as a reason for the purchase on the whole seemed to be more experienced and realistic on the issue. In many cases, experience proved to be their teacher, in others, they had data that really was worth paying more to keep preserved.

If you won’t pay for quality, if you don’t value it, you don’t get it. Something to think about.

Quality Comments …

Quality Comments

I do believe they are built to a higher standard, and therefore do cost more to build. If you have ever held
one in your hand, please compare it to any other brand of IDE drive. They
weigh close to 1/2 as much more than a standard drive. PLUS: if WD is
willing to put a 5 year warranty on these drives after reducing the warranty on
almost every other drive they build, it sounds to me that WD believes in
these drives.

I agree. a CPU for instance is easy replaced but a HDD contains
all your data. For that I am willing to pay more.

I work as a PC repair tech and I see bad HD’s all the time (many times a week). And usually its some basic 7200 RPM model with only 1 year warranty. If drive manufacturers do not trust their drives to last longer than 1 year then there is no way in hell I am going to buy one!

The drive is much heavier than any of my other ide
drives. It appears to be of much heavier construction but it is too new to say
about long term reliability.

A “Raptor” drive is on my parts list for my next major
upgrade, one that I intend to last another three years or so, like my current system has
already. A 36Gb drive would be more than enough for my needs, as I
use a NAS device for most storage. For me, the most compelling reason to get
one of these drives is the warranty. I have had to RMA a Maxtor and two IBM
drives from my current system in three years. It is too early to tell if the
Raptors are more reliable than other drives, but a five year warranty
is worth the extra cost, in my book, for the peace of mind you get in
case something should fail.

I’d happily shell out for something that won’t break, particularly a
HDD…video cards or whatever aren’t as critical, as if they die, you
just swap in a new one and nothing’s lost, but particularly with such big
drives these days it’s hard to find a worthwhile backup solution for a
reasonable price, so I don’t mess with it, and losing everything on the drive is
AT LEAST a huge pain in the ass, and could conceivably cause a lot of
trouble if you use your system for anything other than entertainment.

I actually don’t necessarilly agree that they are better
built… Consider this… Commercial truck engines typically have 500,000 – 1
million mile warranties… not necessarilly because the engines will last
that long, but becuse they pay a premium to the engine maker which covers their
costs of replacing an engine that doesn’t last as long as the warranty…
Warranties are based on the estimated MTBF (Mean Time Between
Failure) of a part and the cost of replacing it if it fails within the warranty
period. So, in short, while I actually only partly believe WDs reasoning that
the RAPTOR drives are better made, and find it more likely that they are
simply selling a longer term warrenty for the logically increased price, the
closest answer would be that I just don’t want to pay their extra
warrenty.

A larger component of current price is to recoup some of the
developmental costs and the cost of long term support (cost of drives not making the 5years). I
personally believe most MTBF figures are over-rated and highly effected by environment and
usage (idle vs thrash?).

The warranty is pretty useless to me.
I don’t trust any single drives since the Deathstar, so now I
mirror everything. If one dies, it’s time to get something new
anyway.)

As far as being MORE reliable? Slightly if anything. I’ve found WD and IBM drives reliable personally. I’ve had more than 9 WD and IBM drives since 1992 personally. None have failed, none have bad sectors. A 1g and 2g WD drives life in the basement on a P90 that act as critical backup servers. Niether has failed since 1992/1993. That particular computer is always powered, VIA APC and VIA a 5,500w Honda Generator. Power hasn’t been cut for any legnth of time in more than 6 years.

FYI I’m 0 for 5 lifetime in Maxtor drives… The POS Maxtors have never given me more than 4 months service.

I have had to return 3 drives to WD,so with the new 1 year warranty i would not purchase any more regular drives from them.I have 3 different maxtors,one is five years old and still running happily.

(Ed. note: The last two comments were in successive emails, and illustrate an extremely baffling phenomenon which I’ll call Multiple Hard Drive Death Syndrome. No matter what the brand, there will be people who will have a particular brand of hard drive fail on them repeatedly, far more than random chance would seem to indicate. It’s a subject worth further study.)

Ever since my old IBM drive crashed, I’m always going to run my hard
drives in RAID 1. So quality isn’t a huge issue, since I expect them to die
and need replacing. Also because I’ll always run RAID 1, price is always
doubled, so a high starting price on the raptor just increases my
total upgrade cost. I considered the raptors but immediately ruled them
out when I saw the paltry capacity, I wanted at least 100GB.
Also, I don’t really want to do something like have a raptor as the
boot drive, and then a second drive for storage, since that would require
me to run 4 drives…I’ve done that, it’s a pain to have that many drives,
and it’s expensive.

I dont need a hard drive that has a 5 year warranty. By the time 2008 rolls around this drive would probably be in some “crap” computer running whatever the free OS of the future is.) 🙂

Conclusion

I’m not sure if this survey was about a product, or about types of people.

The Raptor is basically a SCSI drive in IDE disguise. It is highly valued by its owners, but its owners tend to have a different view on matters than non-owners.

Yes, it’s pricey in its current incarnation, but the new ones coming out in November should address at least in part some of the concerns nonowners have.

However, what looks likely to block mainstream acceptance of this product isn’t size or noise or even current cost. It’s attitude.

Perhaps it is a defensive reaction to not being able to buy expensive equipment, perhaps it is ignorance, perhaps it is a self-defeating approach to life, but the common disbelief that you get what you pay for hurts more than the buyer.

When cost-cutting becomes the sole priority; cutting corners follows shortly thereafter. When people don’t want to pay more, it doesn’t get made, or it ends up being very expensive for those that will pay.

I’m not saying that anybody who doesn’t buy a Raptor is a fool, no more so than I’d call anybody buying a cloth winter coat in Florida a boob. Nor is it even people not buying this particular product per se. It’s the general attitude that is perturbing.

To deny even the possibility that something which costs more could be better, and that it’s just a scheme to take your money, well, it’s just not so. That just leaves you open to being ripped off another way, getting crap for the cheap price.

We stress value. Value does not equal price. Value is something good at a fairly low price.

When the Raptors came out, we questioned their initial value, but a lot of that skepticism was simply due to knowing that a future multiple-platter one would be a better value than the initial product.

The next generation will no doubt be a better value, and the one after that even more so. However, we know better performance and reliability have a price tag, and sometimes it’s well worth paying.

Otherwise, you have a version of Gresham’s Law repeating itself: The cheap drives out the good.

Discussion

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