Q2 2004 Desktop Hard Drive Comparison: WD Raptor vs the Worldby Anand Lal Shimpi on June 7, 2004 12:05 AM EST
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The biggest argument to why you would ever need a faster CPU is often that everything is disk limited anyways, so getting a faster CPU isn't the solution to your performance woes. While, to an extent, this is true, we have seen over the years that quite a few things are just as CPU bound as they are disk bound.
We've shown in the past that even very disk intensive operations, such as extracting a zip archive, can vary significantly with CPU. We've also shown that disk bound benchmarks, such as Winstone, can significantly reduce the performance benefit seen when upgrading to a faster CPU.
More than anything, what we've learned in the past is that there is no one component that significantly bottlenecks the system; rather, it's a combination of all of your components - your CPU, chipset, video card, memory and hard drive - that determine the performance of your system. While one component (e.g. your video card) may be the major determinant of performance in a particular application (e.g. a game), it's rare that the only applications you run are bound by a single component. To put this into perspective, would you ever not upgrade your CPU for a next generation game just because "everything is GPU bound to begin with"? Of course not. Take a 500MHz Athlon and pair it up with a X800 Pro and you'll realize quickly that this sort of logic won't work. So why, then, apply it to hard drives?
Luckily, the average AnandTech reader is smarter than that, and understands the importance of maintaining a balance of performance within his/her system. But here's where the problem resides: how do we measure hard drive performance?
Hard drives continue to be the only component where performance is measured using purely synthetic benchmarks. Our latest CPU review has no less than 12 real world application benchmarks to showcase the performance of the CPU. Our last GPU review took 13 games, and we benchmarked them to help you decide what video card would run games the fastest. But look around for hard drive reviews and you see a bunch of numbers that are, at best, great hypothetical indicators of performance or over-exaggerations of the impact of a particular hard drive. If we converted all of our CPU and GPU reviews to a similar set of synthetic benchmarks, you would quickly find a replacement site for your information, so why settle for the same treatment with hard drives?
We've tried numerous times in the past to bring hard disk reviews to AnandTech, but the limitations have seemingly been unsurmountable. At first, we couldn't get drives, then we had no good benchmarks; then, we got drives and benchmarks, but had no time to tackle the testing. Finally, we are able to offer a good test suite, review the drives that you want reviewed, and do so on a regular basis.
In order to kick off our new suite of drive benchmarks and our return to hard drive reviews, we figured that we'd focus on one of the hot-topic drives as of late: the 2nd generation Western Digital Raptor.