Speed up your PC - Fit a 10,000 RPM system drive

Speed up your PC - Fit a 10,000 RPM system drive

Summary: Power uses go to great lengths to tweak their systems in order to experience improved performance but I'm here to tell you that all the registry tweaks and killing unnecessary services won't beat fitting a 10,000 RPM drive and loading your OS onto it.

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TOPICS: Hardware
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Power uses go to great lengths to tweak their systems in order to experience improved performance but I'm here to tell you that all the registry tweaks and killing unnecessary services won't beat fitting a 10,000 RPM drive and loading your OS onto it.

The price per GB is high compared to 7,200 RPM drivesI'm a huge fan of fitting as much RAM into your PC as you can afford (up to the 4GB limit if you are running 32-bit Windows) but once your maxed out on RAM it can be tricky to find effective ways to boost performance.  However, once simple way to give your PC an additional nitro kick is to fit a 10,000 RPM drive as your main system drive.  And 10,000 RPM hard drives don't come much better than the Western Digital Raptor SATA drive.  This is the king of speed when it comes to drives, and if you don't believe me, check out this AnandTech review (one of many that I could point you to, but they all say the same thing).  Just as a simple comparison, take a look at the stats for a Raptor and a 7,200 RPM WD drive:

Western Digital Raptor WD740ADFD (74GB)
Average Latency: 2.99ms
Average Seek Time: 4.6ms
Average Write Time: 5.2ms

Western Digital Caviar WD800BB (80GB)
Average Latency: 4.2ms
Average Seek Time: 8.9ms
Average Write Time: 10.9ms

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Make no mistake, a 10,000 RPM drive will have an enormous impact on boot time and application load times.Western Digital WD740 10,000 RPM Raptor 

When I mention 10,000 RPM drives to some people they worry that it's going to be a noisy beast to have spinning next to their head or in their living room.  This is a misconception.  The Raptor is no noisier than a 7,200 RPM drive.

The only drawback of the current lineup of 10,000 RPM drives is capacity.  The price per GB is high compared to 7,200 RPM drives.  The WD740ADFD works out a $2.16 per GB while the WD800BB works out at $0.52 per GB so you're paying a premium for that extra speed, but it's definitely worth it in the long run.  Additionally, the drives are small - the largest Raptor is only 150GB.  It's for this reason that I see these 10,000 RPM drives as being ideal as primary drives - you don't want to clutter them up with apps and paying over $2 a GB doesn't make sense for most apps out there (although programs that hammer the drive - like Photoshop - can benefit from a faster drive).  You can then augment this fast drive with larger drives so you can install all the applications and games you want (of course, if you have cash to throw at your PC you could simply fit several Raptors!).

There's also scope for mirroring two Raptors using RAID 0 or RAID 0+1 if you want more speed.  This is easy to set up nowadays as most motherboards now natively support RAID 0/0+1 (although I'll admit to not being a huge RAID fan on desktop PCs).

So, forget about silly registry tweaks and messing about with services, just install a 10,000 RPM drive.

Topic: Hardware

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36 comments
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  • Where do you get your math?

    How do smaller drives at higher RPM compare to larger drives at lower RPM?

    Last I checked, overall performance of a 72 or 36 GB Raptor even in RAID 0 was nill compared to pulling from a 7200 RPM 400 GB Drive. Not for sure how those numbers scale up, but I would think that as drives increase in size, seek time would decrease because of the information that is included on the outside of the platters is much denser than that of a 10,000 RPM drive.

    May be you could back up your claims a bit. I will do my best to rebutt them.

    For the most part you sound like a sales person from Western Digital.
    nucrash
    • Even the article you linked to rebutts your thinking

      Do you even read what you are linking to?

      Western Digital might be proud.

      First off, you are comparing an 80GB SATA Drive to a 72 GB 10K drive. For that kind of money though, you could just as easily purchase a 400 or even 500 GB drive and recooperate your performance as long as you keep your disk finely tuned.
      nucrash
      • Think I answered this in my other psot ...

        (nt)
        Adrian Kingsley-Hughes
    • Depends what you're after ...

      ... The way I see it, fitting a large boot drive is false economy. The more you install on it, the more fragmented it gets and the slower it gets. It also encourages installing apps on the same drive that you're using for the OS and the temp file so you are taking a performance hit there too.

      I've built and handled a number of systems that use a Raptor as a primary drive and a larger 7,200 RPM drive as the main workhorse and my experience is that these are snappier and faster than a system fitted with a single 400/500GB drive.

      Also, take a look at 500GB drives, like the Maxtor MaXLine Pro 500 7H500F0, seek time is 8.5ms while the average latency is 4.17ms. The Raptor wins.

      So I don't sound like WD is paying me for this (they're not ...) I will say that Fujitsu make good 10,000 RPM drives but I've no experience of these.
      Adrian Kingsley-Hughes
  • Not to mention hot!

    I've got two of these drives in my system, and yes they are fabulous, nothing better than a stripped set of 10k RPM drives, but this suckers get unbelievably hot and need lots of ventilation and airspace.
    Best part about these drives is that I've had two get cooked on me, and have had them replaced no questions asked, no issue from WD. Now THAT is customer service.
    scidhuv00
    • I keep them cool in a ...

      Thermaltake Armor or Armor Jr ... the front fan does a good job of keeping the drives cool.
      Adrian Kingsley-Hughes
  • Since George Ou hasn't chimed in yet

    Care to respond to a George Ou's assertions in this blog entry:
    http://blogs.zdnet.com/Ou/?p=322
    t_mohajir
    • Some quick points ...

      1 - I'm no fan of 15K RMP drives as the price is too high to justify.
      2 - Over the years I've become less of a fan of partitioning drives and havine two partitions that do separate tasks (such as one for apps and one for DVD ISO files. One partition outgrows the other or you eventually need to repartition or something. In other words, hassle.
      Adrian Kingsley-Hughes
      • Love to see some benchmarks

        I would love to see some benchmarks pitting say the 150GB Raptor ($210 on Newegg) against say a 400GB Seagate 7200.10 drive($120 on Newegg) with a 150GB partition.

        Even if you don't create a secondary partition on the Seagate drive, if it gives you equal performance, why not save the money?
        t_mohajir
        • The 400 GB drive will kill the Raptor on IOPS

          The 400 GB drive will kill the Raptor on IOPS (Input Output Per Second) if you're only using the 150 GB partition compared to the 150 GB RAPTOR. The 150 GB Raptor will be faster on sequential transfer speed. But for the price, I'll get two 400 GB drives for $210 on sale and I'll get double the transfer rate when two copy jobs are being performed. So no way will I ever buy in to this nonsense of high-RPM drives.
          georgeou
          • But it does work!

            I fitted a WD 150GB raptor with a 60GB OS/app partition. It IS much snappier to start, use and close than using a 60GB partition on a 750GB 7200 HDD.

            My wife and found something similar when I replaced the 4200rpm HDDs in our laptops with 7200rpm ones.

            If the theory doesn't fit the reality, either fix the theory or fix the maths! However, the reality (actual, not the perception) is a lot wider between different scenarios. Accessing OS and apps (data on a separate HDD) is NOT that same haed movement scenario as a database. It would be nice if someone made a spreadsheet in which one can plug in these HDD parameters and the data access scenario parameters and compare the different HDDs for their performance.

            The basic rule would be that a faster drive is better if the data is read or written as large contiguous blocks, but a larger, slower drive (with partial stroking and its larger number of heads) would be better for randomly positioned data.
            Its finding the sweet point between intra-track access speed and inter-track access speed!
            Patanjali
      • This wouldn't be 2 partitions

        A single partition, using the outer tracks of a large hard drive to reduce seek time.

        Still cheaper than the 150 GB Raptor, but only using 30% of the total available disk space.
        nucrash
    • My thoughts exactly

      I knew I should have linked to George.

      Although my next system build is more than 6 months off, I would like to get this question answered. Now I have two very different opinions on the same matter. George is more of a networking/security guy, but he does dabble in hardware more so than I do.

      Adrian's main focus is hardware, so obviously he would know better although this is about two years or more after the release of 10K hard drives that are SATA or IDE (Slow news day?)

      However, if waiting this long, I would assume if you want real speed you are going to have to drop the size of the disk and go Solid State Drive. Which I can't wait for the next iteration of Hybrid Hard Drives.

      Also you failed to mention ReadyBoost for those of us with Windows Vista. If you find a memory card that is accepted, that alone would boost performance sans the cost of a 10K drive.
      nucrash
      • High RPM drives are a ripoff

        The 400 GB drive will kill the Raptor on IOPS (Input Output Per Second) if you're only using the 150 GB partition compared to the 150 GB RAPTOR. The 150 GB Raptor will be faster on sequential transfer speed. But for the price, I'll get two 400 GB drives for $210 on sale and I'll get double the transfer rate when two copy jobs are being performed. So no way will I ever buy in to this nonsense of high-RPM drives.
        georgeou
        • I don't know if I can fit them in my Toolbox Computer

          But I will try.


          I will probably only run 1 400 GB drive. I am running extremely low power supply. A Turion 64 on a Micro ITX Motherboard. This is still a yet to be realized pipe dream PC mod, but I have most of the components ready to go.
          nucrash
          • Each HDD takes a max of 10 watts

            So I don't think your PSU will be a problem even if it's only 200 watts.
            georgeou
  • Not to be clever or anything...

    ...that was interesting...I thought my WD MyBook was reasonably fast (7,500 RPM) but I am wondering if [url=http://www.sandisk.com/Corporate/PressRoom/PressReleases/PressRelease.aspx?ID=3654]this[/url] technology will ever become reliable/cost effective enough to replace the traditional 'winchester' drive technology.

    Thanks Adrian
    D T Schmitz
    • Hmmm, that would be nice

      Solid state has some great upsides, but the thing that I've come to expect from new tech is that it has to both be better and cheaper than what it replaces. With that in mind, I think that solid state is a while off.
      Adrian Kingsley-Hughes
      • Right. We've been seeing that for over 20 years.

        At my first job out of college, we had a DEC VAX 11/785 that had among its hard drive storage a 256MB solid-state "disk drive". DEC thought it would help it compete against Sun's and Apollo's (acquired by HP) Unix-based servers/workstations, but it just wasn't cost-competitive.

        Isn't it ironic that Moore's Law didn't "apply" to drive technology? The industry kept saying that hard drive technology is dead, but the wizards kept finding more innovative ways to squeeze bits into a magnetic substrate...
        NetArch.
  • How about 15K drives?

    It amazes me that we're even talking about whether desktops should be using 10K drives. This technology has been mainstream in the server world for a whole lotta years now. The hard drive is the bottleneck of the pc today. There's really no question about that. CPUs are getting faster by the month, it seems like. Memory speeds are doing likewise. And we're still using 7400 rpm hard drives in our high-end PCs. It's pathetic. Now 15K drives have been around for a few years now. In my mind, this is what we should be talking about making sense or not on the desktop. 10K drives should be the standard.
    jasonp@...