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Western Digital My Book VelociRaptor Duo Review

DSC04530Do you hunger for more speed in your external storage disks? The flash storage built into some MacBooks are really fast, but too small. Wouldn’t it be nice if you could add some really fast storage to your MacBook Air or MacBook Pro? Yes, Western Digital has just the product for you: The My Book VelociRaptor Duo storage system.

This is not just an ordinary external hard disk. The My Book VelociRaptor Duo is a two-bay storage system that uses Western Digital’s famed VelociRaptor 10K RPM hard disks, and comes with two Thunderbolt ports perfect for connecting your Thunderbolt-generation MacBooks to. The fast disks and blazing interface makes a great combination for delivering awesome performance. Awesome, even in comparison with some solid state drives (SSD).

Let’s start by looking at the My Book VelociRaptor Duo’s features first. This is a two-bay storage system which, as the name implies, is fitted with two 10K RPM VelociRaptor hard disks, each with 1TB of capacity. The VelociRaptor Duo can be configured in RAID0 (striped), RAID1 (mirror), or JBOD (two independent disks) modes, giving you some flexibility in how you want to use your storage.

WDVRD AllRound

The photos above show the VelociRaptor Duo: front, right side, top, bottom, back, and then from top with the cover opened. After opening the top cover, there is still another grill cover secured by a screw, then the two VelociRaptor disks within.

DSC04533 - Version 2

On the back, there are two Thunderbolt ports, which makes it easy to daisy-chain one disk to another, or other type of device, without using up additional ports on your computer. This is particularly important if you only have one Thunderbolt port, as with the MacBook Air. You can connect a display from the VelociRaptor Duo. I connected my monitor through a mini-DisplayPort to VGA dongle from the VelociRaptor Duo and it worked great.

Apart from the Thunderbolt ports, there is also a power supply input, and a Kensington lock slot, on the back of the chassis.

WDVRD slot and drive

Here’s a look at inside the empty slot of the chassis, and the VelociRaptor 10K RPM 1TB hard disk. It’s a 2.5″ drive, mounted on a 3.5″ drive bracket.

DSC04503

Accessories included in the box include a power adapter and a Thunderbolt cable.

The WD Drive Utilities software for Mac OS X is included. This utility lets you configure the drive (RAID0, RAID1 or JBOD) and run diagnostics, among other things. For those unfamiliar with RAID/JBOD terminology, here’s what they mean:

  • RAID0: Known as striped, the space of both hard disks are pooled together to maximize storage capacity. You get a logical disk with 2TB of total capacity. This configuration also gives you maximum performance.
  • RAID1: Known as mirror, your data is duplicated, so that one drive is a copy of the other. This configuration gives you maximum data protection, but your available storage capacity is just 1TB.
  • JBOD: The two hard disks are used independently. You computer simply sees two separate hard disks each of 1TB capacity.

Performance is nothing short of awesome. I’ll share detailed performance benchmarks. But here’s a preview of it. Using Blackmagic Disk Speed Test, the VelociRaptor Duo clocked 371.7MB/s reads and 353.4MB/s writes in RAID0 (striped) mode. Just for comparison, my MacBook Air’s flash storage clocks 442.9MB/s reads and 401.6MB/s writes, while my Hitachi USB3 portable disk does  94.7MB/s reads and 93.8MB/s writes.

Of course, expect performance to be worse for RAID1 (mirror) or JBOD configurations. But it’s certainly a whole lot faster than what you’d expect from any USB3 portable disk (yes, not fair comparison of course), or even Western Digital’s older ThunderBolt Duo drive (still, not fair comparison since it uses a conventional desktop hard disk).

What is this VelociRaptor Duo good for? If you need screaming performance, like the sort you get from solid state disks, yet at the same time you want a whole lot more capacity than solid state disks can offer, this seems to be a pretty good solution. For example, if you are a photographer with a humongous Aperture photo library, too big to fit in your Mac’s internal flash storage, you can put the library on this disk. Aperture will run pretty well with it.

Apart from working with multimedia resources, another use case could be for the disk images of virtual machines. Yes, if you run virtual machines with Windows 8 guests, for example, you’re likely to need quite a bit of disk space. Internal flash storage may be very fast, but you don’t have much of it to spare for the huge space required by the virtual disks. You can move them off onto the VelociRaptor Duo disk.

What about the price? Well, such great performance certainly comes at a price. The list price is S$1299. But at the IT Show which kicks off today, the VelociRaptor Duo is selling for S$1199.

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