The new My Book VelociRaptor Duo drive is basically a combination of Western Digital's (WD) 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.
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: AU$1249.
To make up for the higher price, the drive includes a metre long Thunderbolt cable; with the Thunderbolt Duo and most other Thunderbolt drives, you have to shell out another AU$55 to get your own cable. And, most importantly, the drive was superfast in our testing. In fact, it's by far the fastest dual-bay Thunderbolt drive among those we'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.
If you're a professional in the market for a non-compromising storage device, look no further than the My Book VelociRaptor Duo.
The My Book VelociRaptor Duo shares the same signature design that is 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, which will 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; and you won't want to use any other hard. 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 that are made for general consumers. They spin at 10,000rpm, sport 64MB of cache memory and are designed to work 24/7. They also come with WD's highest warranty — five years. However, note that the My Book VelociRaptor Duo drive itself comes with a three-year warranty.
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 set-up 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 set-up fails, you lose information on all of them. However, the VelociRaptor drives have been so reliable that we have no problem using two in a RAID 0 set-up. 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.
I tested the My Book VelociRaptor Duo only in RAID 0, 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. We 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. In this test, the My Book was by far 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, are slower and/or much more expensive.
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.