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SOLUTION:
MaxUpgrades' kit mounts
Velociraptors in Mac Pro drive bays

Originally posted July 23rd, 2008, by rob-ART morgan, mad scientist
Addendum on July 27th, 2008: now you can get a Velociraptor without the heatsink

The 10,000 RPM 300GB Velociraptor drive from Western Digital is an impressive drive but there's one problem: the data and power ports don't line up in the standard position. That means you can't use standard sleds to mount them in the factory bays of your Mac Pro. But MaxUpgrades came up with an imaginative solution: a replacement heatsink and custom sled kit called "MaxConnect for WD Velociraptor." Here's the BEFORE/AFTER photo:

INSTALLATION
It's a snap to make the switch. You remove four screws holding the Velociraptor to the factory enclosure/heatsink. Then use the provided allen head screws and allen head wrenches to connect the MaxConnect custom aluminum heatsink and custom machined aluminum sled to the "bare" Velociraptor.

One concern is that one of the four screws on the Velociraptor's factory heatsink is covered with a sticker. That implies that removing that sticker is grounds for nullification of factory drive warranty. FLASH #1: Since we posted this article, WD decided to offer a Velociraptor withOUT the factory heatsink (or ICE PAK): see model WD3000BLFS. That will solve the warranty issue.

FLASH #2: As of August 13th, 2008, Western Digital now lists a "backplane-ready" version of the Velociraptor (WD3000HLFS) on their website. Based on the 360 degree view, you can see that you will be able to mount it on the Mac Pro standard sled and plug it into the motherboard connectors like a regular 3.5" SATA or SAS drive. It also works with SATA enclosures that plug the drive into the backplane, hence the "backplane-ready" moniker. As of September 11th, OWC has the "backplane-ready" WD Velociraptor 10K SATA drive in stock.

However, we believe the bare version of the Velociraptor (WD3000GLFS) coupled with the MaxUpgrades offset sled and heatsink kit allows more air to move above and below the drive (cooler running) when used in a Mac Pro sled. We plan to back up this hypothesis by sampling internal and external temps during heavy operation in the near future.

DO THE DRIVES RUN COOL WITH THE NEW HEATSINK?
Yes. We used Hardware Monitor to sample internal temps and our laser gun to measure outside temps. Typical operational temps were between 79 and 86 degrees F. Even when running intense benchmarks, the drives never got over 90 degrees F. We tested two Velociraptors with the factory heatsink and they actually ran 5 degrees hotter on average than with the MaxUpgrades heatsink.

HOW FAST IS THE VELOCIRAPTOR?
In an earlier article, we compared the Velociraptor to the previous Raptor and the fastest 7K SATA drive (Samsung F1 Spinpoint).

HOW ABOUT FOUR VELOCIRAPTORS INSIDE?
We only had two of the MaxConnect Velociraptor kits but with four kits and four Velociraptor drives, you can achieve 500MB/s sustained transfer speeds, according to MaxUpgrades tests.

CONCLUSION
We're impressed with this "power user" Velociraptor mounting solution from MaxUpgrades. Because it installs the Velociraptors into the factory bays of the Mac Pro, we are able to boot both Mac OS X and Windows (Boot Camp) partitions. No other installation kit accomplishes that feat.
FLASH! Since we posted this article, WD decided to offer a Velociraptor withOUT the factory heatsink (or ICEPAK): see model WD3000GLFS. That will solve the warranty issue.

Though we list alternative mounting kits for Velociraptors below, we must stress again that the MaxUpgrades MaxConnect Velociraptor Heatsink/Sled kit is the only Velociraptor mounting solution that can boot both Mac OS X and Windows (Boot Camp) partitions.

OTHER KITS FOR MOUNTING VELOCIRAPTORS INSIDE
MaxUpgrades also makes the MaxConnect Mounting Assembly that will mount two drives in the lower optical drive bay. You could use this kit in combination with four of the MaxConnect Velociraptor Heatsink/Sleds to have six Velociraptors inside your Mac Pro -- a potential of 750MB/s in striped array.

Trans International makes the Pro Caddy, a kit that mounts one drive in the optical bay.

As we hear about other kits, we'll add them to this page.

EXTERNAL VELOCIRAPTOR MOUNTING SOLUTIONS
You could have an external SATA enclosure with the Velociraptors installed, but that enclosure must have a loose cable for power and data so you can line it up with the non-standard position of the Velociraptor's power and data ports. Also, you will need a host adapter that can boot OS X if you plan to use it as a boot drive. Or you can use the NewerTech eSATA Extender to run the two spare SATA ports on the Mac Pro motherboard to the outside of the Mac Pro. This would allow you to boot OS X but not Windows.

CAUTION: There are confirmed reports that the NewerTech extender does not work with certain external SATA enclosures. We have only used it with bare drives so we can't comment yet.

WHAT ABOUT SOLID STATE DRIVES?
Some readers are excited about the idea of using a Solid State Drive (SSD) as a boot drive. That may be a good idea for a small laptop like the MacBook Air but consider this: for the same price as a 64GB SSD ($600), you can buy two Velociraptors that, in a striped array, will do random access just as fast as the SSD and do sustained transfers over 4 times faster. Plus, the dual Velociraptors provide 10 times the storage capacity of the 64G SSD.

Apple Online Store

WHERE TO BUY THE MAXUPGRADES VELOCIRAPTOR MOUNTING KIT
You can buy the $48.50 MaxConnect WD Velociraptor Heatsink/Sled direct from MaxUpgrades.

Other World Computing also plans to offer the kit bundled with the bare Velociraptor drive.

As of August 13th, 2008, Western Digital now lists a "backplane-ready" version of the Velociraptor on their website. Based on the 360 degree view, it appears you will be able to mount it on the Mac Pro standard sled and plug it into the motherboard connectors like a regular 3.5" SATA or SAS drive. However, we believe the bare version of the Velociraptor coupled with the MaxUpgrades offset sled and heatsink kit allows more air to move above and below the drive, allowing it to run cooler. We plan to back up this belief by sampling internal and external temps during heavy operation in the near future. (P.S. We expect OWC to carry all versions of the Velociraptor.)

WHERE TO BUY VELOCIRAPTOR (and other SATA DRIVES)

MacGurus (host adapters, enclosures, drives, cables)

Other World Computing (host adapters, enclosures, drives)

Small Dog Electronics (host adapters, enclosures, drives)

TransIntl (host enclosures, drives, internal mounting kits, host adapters)

NewEgg (bare drives at bargain prices)

WHERE TO BUY A MAC PRO
When ordering products from Apple Store USA, please click THIS TEXT LINK or any Apple display ad as your "portal" to the online store. In so doing, you help to support Bare Feats.

(DON'T LIVE in the USA? See links for Apple online stores in other countries.)

Also check with Small Dog Electronics and Power Max. (Power Max takes trade-ins.)

BTW, our newest advertiser, Silverado Systems, offers the Velociraptor as a CTO option on their custom built Mac Pros.

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2008 Rob Art Morgan
"BARE facts on Macintosh speed FEATS"
Email , the webmaster