Review: My Book VelociRaptor Duo pricey but fast and feature-rich

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At a Glance
  • Western Digital My Book VelociRaptor Duo

With the introduction of the My Book VelociRaptor Duo, Western Digital adds another Thunderbolt-ready model to its growing line of My Book desktop storage devices. The VelociRaptor Duo takes Western Digital’s My Book Thunderbolt Duo ( ) and gives it a significant performance boost by replacing WD’s Green drive mechanisms with its VelociRaptor mechanisms. With these 10,000-rpm drives inside—to go along with the 10 Gbps Thunderbolt connectivity—the VelociRaptor Duo is intended to rival the performance of solid state drives, and in our tests, it proved to be more than a worthy competitor.

Although the VelociRaptor Duo is touted for its rapid transfer speeds, it has a number of other noteworthy features. The VelociRaptor Duo comes formatted for Mac, which makes it Time Machine compatible right out of the box. The VelociRaptor Duo also includes the necessary Thunderbolt cable (most Thunderbolt drives don’t include one), making it incredibly easy to use immediately. The drive’s two Thunderbolt ports allow it to be easily added anywhere in a Thunderbolt daisy chain. The drive also comes with WD’s Drive Utilities application, which allows you to register, erase, perform diagnostics, and configure RAID settings (RAID 0, 1, or JBOD) with a few clicks of a mouse.

The VelociRaptor Duo is user serviceable, allowing you to replace the internal drives. All you have to do to is open the lid by pressing down gently, then pull the handle on the perforated metal cover straight up and you have quick, easy access to the drives.

With its wealth of attractive attributes, it is hard to find many drawbacks in the VelociRaptor Duo, but there are a couple of which to take note. The VelociRaptor Duo does not have FireWire or USB interfaces; therefore it can only be used with Thunderbolt-ready Macs. The most glaring negative aspect has to be the price; the 2TB model will set you back a hefty $900. While its performance may warrant the high price, some may argue that $900 for 2TB is way too expensive—you can get WD’s 4TB My Book Thunderbolt Duo for $600. To put those numbers in perspective, the VelociRaptor Duo costs about 44 cents per gigabyte, versus 15 cents per gigabyte for the My Book Thunderbolt Duo. The VelociRaptor Duo is still much cheaper than an SSD, such as LaCie’s Little Big Disk 240GB SSD ( ), which retails for $900 (about $3.75 per gigabyte).

After hearing about the VelociRaptor Duo’s high-speed capabilities, we put it through our series of lab tests. Although in our tests, it never hit the advertised transfer speed of 400 MBps, it came very close. In the AJA System Test, the drive registered an average write speed of 359.5 MBps and an average read speed of 380.9 MBps. To write/read a 10GB file, the drive scored 382.3 MBps and 284.7 MBps respectively, and 354.8 MBps and 261.7 MBps to write/read a 10GB folder.

The VelociRaptor Duo was significantly faster than WD’s My Book Thunderbolt Duo 6TB, with a write speed that was 53 percent faster and a read speed that was 56 percent faster in the AJA System Test. It also outscored LaCie’s Little Big Disk 2TB by about 85 percent in the AJA System Test, and even posted a faster write speed than LaCie’s Little Big Disk 240GB SSD by 43 percent. In fact, the only category that the VelociRaptor Duo didn’t win was the AJA Read Test when competing with the Little Big Disk SSD, in which it tested 28 percent slower.

Benchmarks: My Book VelociRaptor Duo

 Write 10GB fileRead 10GB fileWrite 10GB folderRead 10GB folderAJA WriteAJA Read
WD My Book VelociRaptor Duo 2TB 382.3 284.7 354.8 261.7 359.5 380.9
LaCie Little Big Disk HD 2TB 203.1 202.7 195.6 144.2 192.1 207.6
LaCie Little Big Disk SSD 240GB 264.1 247.0 254.2 239.9 250.6 485.1
Elgato Thunderbolt SSD 240GB 264.1 247.0 254.2 239.9 257.5 267.8
WD My Book Thunderbolt Duo 6TB 201.0 184.0 184.4 156.1 235.6 244.3

Results are megabytes per second (MBps). Higher scores are better. Best results in bold. Reference models in italics.

How we tested: We connected each drive to a 2011 17-inch 2.4GHz Core i7 MacBook Pro running OS X 10.7.2 with 4GB of RAM and an internal 250GB SSD. We timed the copy of a 10.77GB Zip file to the external drive and then timed copying the file back to the internal. We did the same with a 10.77GB folder of 7,420 smaller files. We then used AJA System Test with the Video Frame Size set to 1920 by 1080 10-bit RGB and a file size of 2GB.—Macworld Lab testing by James Galbraith and Kean Bartelman

Bottom line

If you have the need for a high performance drive, and are willing to drop $900 on 2TB, then the My Book VelociRaptor Duo is a great choice. In our tests, this drive more than exceeded our expectations, posting faster transfer speeds than most drives we’ve seen. Its myriad of other features made it incredibly easy to set up and use, and with two 10,000-rpm drive mechanisms and two Thunderbolt ports, this drive is the stuff media professionals dreams are made of.

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At a Glance
  • Pros

    • Very fast transfer speeds
    • Two Thunderbolt ports
    • Time Machine compatible out of the box
    • Configurable as RAID 0/1/JBOD
    • Easy-to-use bundled software
    • User-serviceable drives
    • Thunderbolt cable included


    • Thunderbolt only; no USB or FireWire
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