What is the fastest read write HDD?

When it comes to storage, speed and capacity are often the top considerations. For many, a hard disk drive (HDD) is the best option for large amounts of storage at an affordable price. However, HDDs are mechanical drives with moving parts, which limits their speed compared to solid state drives (SSDs). Still, HDD technology continues to advance, with some models boasting impressive speeds. So which hard drive offers the fastest read and write speeds on the market today?

Top Factors That Impact HDD Speed

There are several key factors that determine the read and write performance of a hard disk drive:

  • RPM (rotations per minute) – Faster RPMs allow data to be accessed quicker
  • Cache size – Larger cache improves speed by storing frequently accessed data
  • Interface – Newer interfaces like SATA III provide higher maximum bandwidth
  • Platter density – More densely packed platters fit more data for faster access
  • Seeking technology – Advances help read/write heads find data faster

In addition, some drives are optimized specifically for either sequential or random access patterns that align with their intended use case scenario.

Highest RPM Consumer HDDs

For many years, the fastest consumer HDDs spun at 10,000 RPM. Recently, higher 15,000 RPM drives have been introduced to the market. Here are some of the top contenders with the fastest RPM speeds:

Seagate Cheetah 15K.7 – 15,000 RPM

  • Max Sustained Transfer Rate: 217 MB/s
  • Interface: SAS 2.0 / 6Gb/s
  • Cache: 16 MB
  • Capacity: 450 GB or 600 GB

The Seagate Cheetah 15K drives boast the fastest spindle speeds available for a 3.5-inch HDD. The 15K.7 generation hits transfer speeds up to 217 MB/s.

Western Digital VelociRaptor – 10,000 RPM

  • Max Sustained Transfer Rate: 189 MB/s
  • Interface: SATA 3.0 / 6Gb/s
  • Cache: 64 MB
  • Capacity: 1 TB

The Western Digital VelociRaptor has been a popular high performance HDD option for years. It matches speeds close to 15,000 RPM drives. The 1 TB model gets up to 189 MB/s transfer rates.

SSD vs. HDD Speed Comparison

SSDs continue to outpace even the fastest HDDs in terms of speed. For example, a SATA-based SSD may achieve 550+ MB/s sequential read and 500+ MB/s sequential write speeds. The table below shows how a top SATA SSD compares to high RPM HDDs:

Drive Type Read Speed Write Speed
Samsung 870 EVO SATA SSD 560 MB/s 530 MB/s
Seagate Cheetah 15K HDD 217 MB/s 205 MB/s
WD VelociRaptor HDD 189 MB/s 192 MB/s

The Samsung 870 EVO SATA SSD leaves the fastest hard disk drives in the dust when it comes to real-world sustained throughput. SSDs have no moving parts and can access any data instantly, giving them large speed advantages.

When to Consider a Faster RPM HDD

While SSDs are the speed kings, high RPM hard drives still offer a balance of speed and high capacity storage. Here are some instances where a faster HDD makes sense over a cheaper, slower model:

  • Gaming PCs – Faster loading times
  • Desktop workstations – Faster access to working data sets
  • Servers – Improved I/O response time
  • Video editing – Faster render times
  • POS terminals – Quicker completion of transactions

Of course, even the fastest HDD can’t match the instantaneous access of SSDs. But for cost-effective storage of large amounts of data that needs quick access, high RPM hard disk drives deliver better real-world performance.

External HDD Speed Considerations

With external hard drives, transfer speed is impacted by both the drive and the interface used. Common external interfaces include:

  • USB 2.0 – Up to 60 MB/s transfer speed
  • USB 3.0/3.1 Gen 1 – Up to 640 MB/s
  • USB 3.2 Gen 2 – Up to 10 Gbps or 1250 MB/s
  • USB-C – 10Gbps and higher for newer standards
  • eSATA – Up to 6 Gbps or around 750 MB/s
  • Thunderbolt 3 – Up to 40 Gbps or 5000 MB/s

A faster drive can still be bottlenecked by an older/slower interface. USB 2.0 HDDs max out around 30 MB/s, while USB 3.0 allows much faster speeds. eSATA removes interface limitations for hot-swap external SATA disks. For the absolute fastest external storage, Thunderbolt 3 enables bleeding edge throughput.

5 Fastest Hard Disk Drives

Based on sustained read/write benchmarks and real-world performance, here are 5 of the definitively fastest HDD options currently available.

1. Seagate Cheetah 15K.7

  • 15,000 RPM
  • 450 GB or 600 GB Capacity
  • Up to 217 MB/s Transfer Speed

The Seagate Cheetah 15K.7 hits an unprecedented 15,000 RPM spindle speed along with a SAS 12 Gbps interface to enable some of the highest throughput rates ever for a HDD.

2. Western Digital VelociRaptor

  • 10,000 RPM
  • 1 TB Capacity
  • Up to 189 MB/s Transfer Speed

The VelociRaptor stands out as one of the fastest consumer-focused HDDs available, with its 10,000 RPM platter speed and large on-board cache.

3. Seagate Enterprise Performance 10K HDD V7

  • 10,000 RPM
  • 900 GB Capacity
  • Up to 171 MB/s Transfer Speed

The Seagate Enterprise Performance 10K V7 hits great 10K RPM speeds at high capacities up to 900 GB in a 2.5-inch form factor.

4. Seagate Enterprise Performance 15K HDD V6

  • 15,000 RPM
  • 300 GB Capacity
  • Up to 164 MB/s Transfer Speed

Another blazing fast model from Seagate, the Enterprise Performance 15K V6 squeezes 15,000 RPM performance into a compact 2.5-inch HDD.

5. Western Digital Black 6TB

  • 7200 RPM
  • 6 TB Capacity
  • Up to 194 MB/s Transfer Speed

Representing a more affordable 7200 RPM option, the WD Black 6TB offers great real-world speeds with its large cache size while still delivering high capacity.

Factors for Choosing the Right HDD

When selecting the best hard disk drive for your needs, consider these key factors:

  • Use Case – Are you prioritizing speed, capacity, or a balance?
  • Form Factor – 2.5-inch vs 3.5-inch, and ensuring it fits in your computer or enclosure.
  • Interface – Older SATA 3Gbps vs newer SATA 6Gbps or SAS 12Gbps.
  • Cache Size – Larger cache improves performance.
  • Workload – Focused on sequential or random access? Reading or writing?
  • Budget – Determine how much you can spend on storage.

Getting the right combination of specifications for your specific needs is key to building the fastest system possible within your budget.

Achieving Even Faster Speeds

If the fastest hard drive still doesn’t provide the speed you need, here are some options to go even faster:

  • SSDs – Solid state drives offer by far the fastest access times and data transfer speeds.
  • RAID – Grouping multiple HDDs together in RAID 0 can multiply throughput.
  • Caching – Using SSD caching improves speed by storing frequently used data on faster solid state memory.
  • External SSDs – External SSDs connect over fast interfaces like USB 3.2 Gen 2 or Thunderbolt 3.

While SSDs are taking over the market, HDDs continue to have a place for affordable capacity. When you need speed along with that capacity, choosing one of the top high performance hard drives can make a noticeable difference.

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