Recommendations on best HD for OS-only partition

I am currently upgrading my PC with a new mobo that supports SATA drives and need to upgrade one of my hard drives. The system is currently configured with TWO hard drives: one (10GB) that contains three operating systems (Win 2K, Win XP, and Fedora; Win 2K is getting replaced with Windows Vista), and one (160GB) that contains all my data. The data drive is relatively new, so it will stay in place despite being ATA/133. My goal is to replace the 10GB drive with something faster. Traditionally, I've stored my OS paging files on the second drive, but that's not a requirement if the new OS drive is much faster.

The critical determining factor here is that the new drive will almost exclusively be used for the OS, and ONLY the OS. This means:

- it doesn't have to be extremely big
- most file access will NOT be sequential

Additional considerations:

- Fast is most important, but quiet is good: the mobo is fanless, so the HD shouldn't run so hot that it needs its own fan
- The Win partitions are NTFS.
- Windows/SATA install issues don't concern me, as I'll probably install from a saved image, rather than via the OS media
- I'm ruling out RAID for now: too complex, and I don't think I'll benefit given how I use this PC
- Target budget is under $50 (though I'm probably going to have to depend on rebates to hit that)

Does anybody have any suggestions on what to look for (or specific brands/models) that will provide the best performance at the lowest price in this usage scenario?

Thanks in advance,
8 answers Last reply
More about recommendations only partition
  1. Western Digital Raptor 74GB 10,000rpm drive. Hands down. It's no louder than a 7,200 rpm drive and is blazing fast. Here's one on

    It also has a 5 year warranty. I have 2 of these in RAID 0- it's bad ass son. Worth the extra $$$. Trust me on that.

  2. Ah yes, I saw a review of this one and it really impressed. It did seem to me that the faster rotational speed would be a big benefit on heavy random access.

    One reviewer mentioned that it runs hotter than 7200rpm drives and needs a fan. Do you find that to be the case, too? (Though this may not apply to you if you've already got a well-cooled system.)

  3. I use one ofThese to run windows from. only 18gb but darned fast.
    Applications and data go on a different (physical) drive.
  4. Interesting...I hadn't even considered SCSI (mostly because the mobo doesn't support it, but that can be remedied). Definitely something else to think about.

  5. I run a 36 GB Raptor, and I've never noticed any increase in noise or heat over my other drives.
  6. Okay, I might be sold here, budget be damned!

    Final question: how will the SATA/150 10krpm drive compare to a SATA/300 7200rpm drive?

    My hypothesis is that because this drive is only for the OS, and not for any large data files, there will be very few sequential reads, and virtually no sequential writes. Therefore, the faster spin will provide more performance gain than the SATA/300 drive, which won't be able to achieve its full potential since it'll rarely go into burst mode, even with the benefit of NCQ.

    Am I right?
  7. Your hypothesis is correct. The lower seek time and higher rotation speed are what you want for an OS disk.
  8. Excellent - thanks very much! I think I'm in business!

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