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You Want a 10,000 RPM Boot Drive


Dell’s XPS desktop series offers a 160GB - WD Raptor 10000RPM, SATA 3.0Gb/s, 16MB Cache (for the boot drive) as well as several Seagate 7200RPM, SATA 3.0Gb/s, 16MB Cache drives ranging from 320GB to 750GB. They also offer several RAID drives ranging from 320GB up to 2TB, including at least one 320GB Performance RAID 0 (2 x 160GB WD Raptor SATA 1.5Gb/s 10,000 RPM HDDs).

I do not know if any of these drives are SDD.


I’m personally holding off a couple years for SSDs to get down to a reasonable price. They promise to be very snappy.


I’m running a sata raid0 as my boot. That seems fast enough for me…


If I had money to burn my agenda would go towards a Mac with a Linux dual boot. I do like Jeffs setup tough. No need to complicate things. Negligible optimization is no big deal. It seems more like a “Mine is bigger than yours” issue. I’m running ancient hardware and couldnt care less about whether or not I lose data. Linux Kernel on a P3 1ghz 384MB ram and satisfied. Two 40g HDDs with Linux on one and an XP Pro Vista Ultimate hacked Hybrid on the other. Virtual XP pro machine on Linux. All parts are guts from other PCs. I surf, run the virtualmachine and listen to tunes just fine. Upgrades for me usually come in the softwe variety. I guess I’m easy to please. I might upgrade to a P4 sometime soon but meh. I may even upgrade to a whole new updated rig but it’ll be cheap with no raid setup. Maybe fast enough for WOW but just to say whats up to Leeroy and take his armour. Other than that. Whatev. My supercomputer is in my brains.


Used to have a IBM 10000 rpm scsi and a Maxtor 15000 rpm scsi P4 2.8 Oclocked to 3.2. AIW ATI radeon hooked up to 2 monitors and my TV and stereo system. It was fun to setup and benchmark but I moved and got rid of it.


Try solid state drives and you will sh*t your pants. Very expensive though.


I agree disk speed is the bottleneck. In the past 5 years CPU speed up ~400+%, Number of Cores up 100%, memory speed up ~300%, the about of main memory up ~400+% and Disk Speed still at 7200 RPMs for desktops and 5400 RPMs for laptops. Seek time hasn’t made great strides either.

I recently upgraded my 2002 800MHz 256 MB Compaq Evo N600c laptop to a 1.8 GHz, Dual core AMD X2, 2GB HP dv9000 laptop. I did this because the old one was a little slow running our web site demos when there was no Internet access available and it had to run IIS, SQL Server, etc, and the web site’s applications.

The net result was that the new one was only marginally faster. All data originates on the disk, and CPU speed, caching, and huge main memory only means that you get through computing quicker but still have to wait for the next piece of data for same amount of time. That wait time is main factor for all but small compute bound applications.

If the price wasn’t so high I’d investigate 15K drives. But at about 2X the 10K drive is a great performance enhancement. I agree with the “you goto have two drives” theory. But I want the second drive for storing my backups on. The hell with RAID. I want real backups. For that I use and external 500 GB drive today.



I couldn’t agree more about the importance of a fast hard drive.

When I built my new computer back in 2005, I decided to buy two 74GB 10k Raptors and put them in RAID 0 (for my OS and programs) along with two larger 7200RPM Seagate drives for data storage. Needless to say it cost a small fortune, but it was worth it.

The performance difference between 7200 and 10000 is immediately noticeable when it comes to starting programs, loading game levels, doing installations, and other tasks that do lots of seeking and little reading/writing.

You know how your laptop is always slower than your desktop, even when you have the same specs? It’s due to the hard drive. Laptop drives run at 4200 RPM or 5400 RPM. I remember when I went from 5400 RPM to 7200 RPM for the first time. MAJOR difference in performance.

Right now, I still have only 1 GB of RAM and I can’t recall when I last defragmented, and it’s still fast. I only wish there were bigger 10K drives available (or 15K drives) so I could upgrade.


On the subject of WD Raptors: I couldn’t agree more! What a difference!
Worth the expense!


If you do not opt for 2 drives and you can only afford a single 7,200rpm drive…Partition it!!! from 20%-80% to 40%-60% for system-data. If you game you will need more space on the system partition. do not bother keeping data on a 10,000rpm drive, youll notice your programs taking advantage of the faster seek times more so than opening and saving docs…
This way if your OS install gets messed up to the point of a reformat or reimage all your personal docs (the ones you care about, mp3s, avis, jpegs, program install files, etc) will be waiting for you on the data partition…and you can keep a clean system image (by acronis, norton ghost etc) on the data partition aswell so you dont need to rely on finding the external copy of your system image.


Actually, if you’ll run an OS that never needs defragmenting, and is immune to the million Microsoft virus/trojans/Worms/Bots/exploits, even the 4200 rpm laptop drive boots/runs ‘faster’!

Another fun distro is vixta.org (Fedora Core 8 based liveCDrom)! Get the look and ‘feel’ of Vista, without the vulnerabilities, nagware, trialware!

FREE Vixta.org is totally immune to the Microsoft virus/trojans/Worms/Bots/exploits, without having to run 7 different prevention programs! Download the ISO, burn image to CD, reboot.

Leaves no trace on the hard drive, or, can be installed with a click on the icon.


GREAT POST! I learned this years ago when I upgraded my 4,200 rpm laptop drive to 7,200 rpm–WOW! A new machine!

RAID1 is totally worth it, if you have extra money–much faster yet and redundant!

RAID0 or 0+1 (striping) is not worth it for the boot drive. Striping is best with large sequential files, not efficient at all for small random access. Some speed improvement, but not near RAID1. RAID5 is an even worse choice and requires hardware to be good. Very slow writes.

If you buy a second drive, either go RAID1 or make it a separate 7,200 rpm data drive. Partitioning is great for a single drive.

And a big WHATEVER, PAL! to all the Windows haters out there. We all recognize the strengths of *nix and the failures of Windows, but it is a two-way street! Otherwise *nix would be predominant. Make it easy for my mom to install and use, make lots of off-the-shelf software available, and drivers for all the hardware out there–THEN I will be right with you. I hate M$ as much as anyone (and use Firefox), but then there is reality.


Interesting post. After seeing benchmarks for new 7200 RPM drives like the Seagate 7200.10 though, I wonder how much of this is valid, and how much of the performance gains are seen by upgrading boot from a slow 7200 RPM drive to a Raptor.

Outside of work, I still consider RAID mirrors a waste of money, and RAID striping a questionable performance improvement over independent drives that make you lose a lot of portability. RAID gets you the ability to rebuild an array if a disk goes bad with little downtime, at the cost of requiring additional drives with the same performance characteristics as your existing drives. Odds are, you were going to run to Fry’s and spend the afternoon tinkering with your box if one drive went bad anyway.


Michael said:
I’m about to put together a system for professional photography and
video editing. (I’m considering a Dell XPS 720 with a Q6600 Quad-Core processor, 768MB Nvidea GeForce 8800 GTX graphics card, and a 24"
Ultrasharp Dell monitor.) I’ve read that 2 hard drives are always
recommended for NLE Video Production – one for the OS, and the other
for the large video files. There’s no question that I’ll make my Boot Drive a 160GB 10,000 RPM Raptor!

Mike, I went for a Quad, with 2 raid0 7200rpm drive, an Xps, yeah. (xps 420)

Right, I am playing mp3, have an open windows virtual machine, a java ide etc.
Here’s the output of my hdparm right now:

~$ sudo hdparm -Tt /dev/sda
Timing cached reads: 7348 MB in 2.00 seconds = 3677.64 MB/sec
Timing buffered disk reads: 186 MB in 3.02 seconds = 61.65 MB/sec

Please note that Ubuntu won’t install easily with Sata Raid, you’ll have to follow some tutorial or opt for linux software raid (and erase your partitions).

Great machine by the way. (only unworking thing: hauppage win-tv tuner)


Outside of work, I still consider RAID mirrors a waste of money

If you’re spending $1,500+ for a box with RAID capable motherboard, why is it a waste to spend another $150 or less for a second drive. A RAID1 mirror will do far more for the speed of your machine than $300+ for faster CPU and RAM! I’ve seen Windows boot in just a few seconds with RAID1.


This comment particularly interested me:

Jeffro said
Built in RAID is cheap, buggy and very risky to run. In establishing
any RAID configuration you should always consider the risk of a
controller failure. Especially at the temperatures that Southbridge
chipsets run at (which provides SATA functionality). When a
controller fails, don’t expect to take your drives to a different
controller and recover your data. Controllers are very often
incompatible. This is even true of high priced add on cards. When
purchasing a server with RAID, I’ve learned to always buy a spare
controller of the same model. By the time the controller fails an
exact replacement may not be available anymore.

In summary, don’t run RAID on a desktop or workstation with the idea
that you’re getting better security or performance. You won’t. If
you do run RAID, buy a quality controller with lots of RAM/quick
CPU/quick I/O. It’s also a good idea to pay for a support contract.

Two things:

Jeffro seems to be suggesting that the reliability of the controller is a reason not to use RAID, though where he gets his MTBFs on souhbridge chips is under question. In any case SATA raid PCI cards are $30 so buy three and you have double redundancy.

The simple fact is that if you mirror your data, in a RAID1 setup, you DO have better data security (average drive MTBF is 1.2 million hours). It is quite unlikely that both drives will fail at the same time. However, it is important not to rely on RAID alone - three words: OFF SITE BACKUPS.





Yesterday I wanted a decent upgrade to a Linux C++ Dev machine (not my primary windows dev machine). Which is now (for the linux machine) an athlon xp1.3ghz + 1GB RAM, 40GB 4200RPM snooze drive. Just to do some simple gcc stuff. I wanted to do some opengl hacking.

  • So I bought a Nvidia geforce6200 64bit AGP slowmo gfx card for ~29euros (reasonable)

  • After which I bought a Core2Duo Board + CPU + 2gigs of RAM ( IT SOMEHOW HAPPENED! I’m not guilty)

  • After which I bought a normal 320gb sata drive

  • After which I bought a midi atx case + 550w power supply

  • After which I bought a fanless Sparkle Geforce 8800GT 512MB because I really want to hack in OpenGL 2.0

(At that point I decided I am actually building my new primary development machine and just put the geforce6200 into the old athlon machine)


(you do this on purpose, right?)



Question being has anyone else seen the 160gb sata II raptor #WD1600ADFS I’ve only seen it on ebay and clubit (not even WD has it listed) am I dreaming or is it real and if it is a raptor is it new or is it just a jumper mod?


My system is average.

QuadCore Q6600
SLI Mobo w. one nVidia 8800GT 512MB
500GB 7.2k RPM
160GB 10K RPM
(forgot to tell Dell to put OS on this drive ARGH!!!)
Oh well it’ll make a good scratch disk for PS.
Decided against RAID0 because of bad experiences before.

Whole system (Dell XPS 630) cost me $1190 USD (incl. shipping, taxes, 1yr on site tech support, 1 yr parts warrnty)

A decent buy I thought.


I built my DAW (Digital Audio Workstation) a couple years ago. I’m running a pair of 74GB Raptors in Raid 0 as my primary system drive. Not only do I run XP, but all my audio apps on the Raid pair. I used to store my massive sample banks libraries on my 320gb 7200rpm drive, but find that the load speed and performance is much better with everything lumped onto the raid twins - I’m simply using the 320gb for storage at this point.

My system seriously kicks @$$. I load a 3GB sample bank into RAM in less than 10 seconds. I’ve never had a glitch, hiccup or error of any kind. Rock freakin’ solid. One day I decided to try and kick my DAW’s @$$ just for fun. I stopped counting at 250+ tracks of 24 bit 48khz audio. Beyond that, it doesn’t really matter anymore.

At this point, the only thing I need to upgrade is the processor from AMD 4200+ to a new Quad-core. I decided to spend the money and buy on the bleeding edge two years ago, and it has served me well.

I’m never going back to 7200rpm - even on my entertainment / surfing PC.