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WD My Book VelociRaptor Duo review: WD My Book VelociRaptor Duo

The WD My Book VelociRaptor Duo is one of the best storage devices thanks to its balanced combination of excellent performance, practical design, and relatively friendly pricing.

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Dong Ngo
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Dong Ngo

SF Labs Manager, Editor / Reviews

CNET editor Dong Ngo has been involved with technology since 2000, starting with testing gadgets and writing code for CNET Labs' benchmarks. He now manages CNET San Francisco Labs, reviews 3D printers, networking/storage devices, and also writes about other topics from online security to new gadgets and how technology impacts the life of people around the world.

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The new My Book VelociRaptor Duo drive that WD announced today is basically a combination of the company's previous My Book Thunderbolt Duo and its cream-of-the-crop VelociRaptor hard drives, which are arguably the fastest consumer-grade hard drives on the market.

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8.4

WD My Book VelociRaptor Duo

The Good

The <b>WD My Book VelociRaptor Duo</b> offers stellar performance, includes a Thunderbolt cable, and is easy to service.

The Bad

The My Book VelociRaptor Duo doesn't offer any other connection types and is relatively pricey.

The Bottom Line

The My Book VelociRaptor Duo is one of the best storage devices thanks to its balanced combination of excellent performance, practical design, and relatively friendly pricing.

That said, if the Thunderbolt Duo is budget-friendly and flexible in terms of capacity, the VelociRaptor Duo comes in a fixed 2TB capacity and costs noticeably more: $900.

To make up for the higher price, the drive includes a 3-foot-long Thunderbolt cable; with the Thunderbolt Duo and most other Thunderbolt drives, you have to shell out another $50 to get your own cable. And, most importantly, the drive was superfast in my testing. In fact it's by far the fastest dual-bay Thunderbolt drive among those I've worked with.

The fact that it uses hard drives instead of solid-state drives (SSDs) means that it's the perfect fit for professional digital-content editing applications, where the demand for both high-speed and lots of data-overwriting are required. Unlike SSDs, hard drives don't suffer from the limited program-erase cycles. (Read more about P/E cycles and the SSDs here.)

If you're a professional in the market for a noncompromising storage device that costs less than $1,000, look no further than the My Book VelociRaptor Duo.

Design and features

Drive type 3.5-inch-based dual-bay external hard drive
Connector options Thunderbolt
Size (WHD) 3.9 x 6.5 x 6.2 inches
Weight 5.2 lbs.
Available capacities 2TB
Capacity of test unit 2TB
OSes supported Mac OS 10.6.8 or later / Windows 7 or later
Software included WD Drive Utilities

The My Book VelociRaptor Duo shares the same signature design found in other products in WD's My Book line, such as the My Book Thunderbolt Duo, or the My Book Studio Edition II. It looks like a closed book that's standing up. On the front the new drive has a tiny power/status light and on the back, you'll find its power port and two Thunderbolt ports.

The top of the drive can be opened with a push to reveal the internal drives inside. These drives can be replaced easily without any tools. The My Book VelociRaptor Duo comes with two of the latest 1TB VelociRaptor hard drives; you don't want to use any other hard drives other than these. This is because the VelociRaptor (or just Raptor in previous models) family is the only hard-drive line on the market that offers exceptional performance and durability. These are enterprise-grade hard drives made for general consumers. They spin at 10,000 rpm, sport 64MB of cache memory, and are designed to work 24-7. They also come with WD's highest warranty -- five years. Personally, I've never had a bad experience with them. Note that the My Book VelociRaptor Duo drive itself comes with a three-year warranty, however.

Individually, the VelociRaptor hard drives, like all hard drives, are generally slower than SSDs, but when two of them are set up in RAID 0, which is the default setup of the My Book VelociRaptor Duo, they turn out to be much faster. Generally, I am not a fan of RAID 0 because if one of the drives in the RAID setup fails, you lose information on all of them. However, the VelociRaptor drives have been so reliable that I have no problem using two in a RAID 0 setup. Users with lots of important data, however, should use two My Book VelociRaptor Duo units and use RAID 10 (the combination of RAID 0 and RAID 1) with their four hard drives.

Other than RAID 0, the My Book VelociRaptor Duo also supports RAID 1 and JBOD. You don't want to use it in anything but RAID 0, however.

Like most other Thunderbolt drives, there's not much to setting up the My Book VelociRaptor Duo. Out of the box, the drive is configured in RAID 0 and preformatted using HFS+; it works immediately once plugged to a Thunderbolt-enabled Mac running OS X 10.6.8 or later. I tried the drive with a Thunderbolt-enabled Windows computer and, once reformatted into NTFS, the drive also worked immediately.

The drive comes with WD Drive Utilities, which helps monitor the status of the drive and change the internal hard drive's configurations. The options are RAID 0 (default), RAID 1, and two separate volumes. RAID 0 (strip) offers top capacity and performance, but if one of the hard drives crashes, you'll lose data on both. RAID 1 (mirror) is the opposite; you get just half of the total storage and slower performance, but your data safety is doubled.

Performance
I tested the My Book VelociRaptor Duo only in RAID 0 and in two sets of tests. In the first set, it was stacked up against other Thunderbolt drives as well as internal drives, including solid-state drives (SSDs). In the second, it was tested the way any other non-Thunderbolt external storage devices are tested: against the test machine's internal drive.

Note that the Thunderbolt standard currently has a ceiling speed of 10Gbps, whereas the fastest internal drive caps at just 6Gbps of the SATA 3 standard. I used a 2011 MacBook Pro running OS X Lion, on a SATA 3 (6Gbps) SSD, as the test machine.

In the first set of testing, when moving data from a daisy-chained Pegasus R6, the My Book VelociRaptor Duo showed its top performance and scored 363MBps, being the second fastest, just after the R6 itself. Note that the R6 is a six-bay drive with all hard drives also set up in RAID 0. By far in this test, the My Book was the fastest among all dual-bay and single-volume Thunderbolt drives I've reviewed. When moving data within itself from one folder to another, the drive registered 124MBps, again faster than any other dual-bay Thunderbolt drives. In this test, it was slower than some SSDs, however.

In the second set of testing, when moving data back and forth from the connected test machine, the My Book VelociRaptor Duo scored 192MBps and 179MBps for writing and reading, respectively. In both of these tests, it was second only to the Pegasus R6, and even then, just by a small margin.

In all, the My Book VelociRaptor Duo offers stellar performance for a dual-bay storage device and much more value than some of its peers that cost more but are slower and/or much more expensive.

Data transfer scores -- Thunderbolt vs. Internal (in megabytes per second)
(Longer bars indicate better performance)
Unit-to-unit  
Self read and write  
Promise Pegasus R6 (RAID 5)
323.79 
192.53 
WD My Book VelociRaptor Duo
263 
124 
Plextor PX-256M2S
261 
162.03 
OCZ Vertex 3
260.71 
150.01 
Crucial M4
235.51 
117.99 
LaCie Little Big Disk SSD
233.5 
141.69 
OCZ Agility 3
207.75 
101.67 
Patriot Wildfire
202 
99.72 
WD VelociRapter 600GB
126.33 
58.05 
Elgato Thunderbolt SSD
121.96 
71.84 
Seagate Barracuda XT
115.71 
51.1 
WD VelociRaptor 300GB
112.59 
47.12 

Data transfer scores -- Thunderbolt vs. External (in megabytes per second)
(Longer bars indicate better performance)
Read  
Write  
WD My Book VelociRaptor Duo
178.73 
192.34 
LaCie Little Big Disk SSD
186.8 
184.71 
Elgato Thunderbolt SSD
168.97 
120.61 

Conclusion
With an included Thunderbolt cable, stellar performance, and reasonable pricing, the My Book VelociRaptor Duo is an excellent investment for those who need a superfast storage device for their professional digital-content editing needs.

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8.4

WD My Book VelociRaptor Duo

Score Breakdown

Setup 8Features 8Performance 9Support 8