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Best bets for a non-Raptor gaming Hard Drive & a few ?

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December 8, 2008 6:48:37 AM

At the moment I have a 300gb Maxtor Diamondmax 10 (6L300S0), which I purchased a few years ago. After a scare involving power surges (they like to mess with the power at least once a month here on a military base), I've decided to finally get a second hard drive and reformat this one. I have 3 main questions, which I seem to keep confusing myself about the more I look up information since there's not a lot of 1TB info out there:

1). What's the best hard drive to get right now for gaming that's under $150? I'm going by Newegg OEM prices, so this includes 1 TB and pretty much everything but Raptors. I won't use RAID and I won't buy Hitachi (personal preference). I see a few people suggested the WD Caviar Black 640/750 drives...does the whole Caviar Black series have the same test results? So the 1 TB would be just as fast as those two? Or is it the smaller the drive, the faster it is?

2). And as a follow up...I've been leaning toward the 1 TBs with 2 partitions - one for OS/programs/games and one for misc. My Documents things. Is a 1 TB going to be faster running games than my Maxtor? Or would it be better to just have the 1TB as a backup and using the Maxtor for everything?

3). I'm thinking about manually copying files from my Master drive to my Slave drive once a week or so, and then leaving the SATA & power cables unplugged from the Slave drive the rest of the time. If there were a power surge bad enough to mess up my Master HDD, it wouldn't effect my Slave drive unless it was connected by these cables right? Maybe a stupid question, but I thought it'd be good to make sure :)  I know I could turn external but I'd rather stay away from it if I can.

Thanks in advance! I've spent a few hours looking up this info and I feel like I've just done circles :pt1cable:  I'm sorry if an answer is obvious!
a b G Storage
December 8, 2008 7:07:55 AM

If your looking for speed on the cheap, many will tell you to get the WD 640GB drive. It has nearly the speed of the 150GB Raptor, but has much more room.

I can't answer your second question, as I'm not sure of the specs of your current drive. If it is several years old however, I'm sure any recent drive would be faster.

Yes, if the cables are unplugged, it can't get hit by any "bad" power.
December 8, 2008 7:16:48 AM

Thank you for the fast response! :)  I just edited my first question as you were replying...would the 1 TB be as fast as the 640 if I partitioned it into 2 500gb, or would the 640 still be faster? I'm not sure what benchmarks matter for gaming or I would compare the two.

My current drive isn't bad by current standards, but in what I could find for benchmarks on my current drive the 1 TBs seemed to bypass it a bit. I just can't seem to wrap my mind around the fact that a 1 TB would run faster than a smaller drive, so I was looking for confirmation on that. Thanks for giving me it.

I know quite a bit about other components, but my hard drive was given to me while I was building this computer (my first) so I don't know too much about them. I just learned about RAID on yesterday's searches. :o  I feel so out of the loop, lol.
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a b G Storage
December 8, 2008 7:59:47 AM

The 1TB Caviar Black is if anything a bit faster than the 640GB. The reason it isn't recommended as often is because the 640 is enough storage for most people, and it's cheaper.

The reason that for a given rotational speed (7200RPM for most desktop drives), a higher capacity drive is actually faster is because of a couple of reasons:

Reason 1: it tends to be a newer design than the smaller drives
Reason 2: The higher capacity means that there is a higher data density on the disk (in some cases - in others, it means it has more disks of the same capacity). There are only 2 ways to increase density - to increase the number of tracks on the drive, or to increase the number of bits in each track. If the number of bits in the track is increased, so is the read speed, as it always reads a track in the same amount of time (the amount of time it takes to rotate once), so if there is more data in the track, it reads more data in the same amount of time.

Now, this only works when comparing drives of the same spin speed. The Velociraptor is smaller and has lower density platters than the Caviar Black 1TB, but it is nevertheless faster. This is due to the 10000RPM spin speed. However, for standard 7200RPM drives, it is a general rule that the biggest drives are the fastest. One of the fastest non-raptor drives available right now for example is the Seagate 7200.11 1.5TB drive, though it is not significantly faster than the WD 1TB Caviar Black. The reason it is the fastest is that it has the highest density platters. It has 4 platters, therefore has a data density of 375GB/platter. However, it isn't that much faster than the latest 1TB drives because they tend to have only 3 platters, and therefore a density of 333GB/platter, not far behind. The older design terabyte drives had 4 or even 5 platters, meaning a density of 200-250GB/platter, which is why the current ones are faster. Access time also matters, but that has really nothing to do with capacity. It has to do with seek time (which is constantly improving, and therefore the best on newest drives) and rotational speed, with the faster spinning drives having shorter overall access time.
December 9, 2008 3:42:16 AM

Thanks for explaining it, that makes a lot more sense now. I ended up with the 640, placed the order this morning. I was really tempted to get the 1 TB but I also want to upgrade the rest of my computer so that's more money to that :)  And now I'll know what to look for when I decide to get another hard drive :sol: 
December 9, 2008 4:11:02 AM

Here is a crazy idea , why dont you get a surge protector to save your pc from the power surges , and there are programs that back up your drives for you. The one i use is called synchback i have it set up that when i turn on my external hd and boot up the software it will sync what ever files that have changed on on my main drives inside my tower to my back up drive on my external hd. Once its all done i just turn off my external HD and go to sleep with peace of mind . you should look into it .. i know this had nothing to do with you getting a new hd but you seemed to have figured that out ..
a b G Storage
December 9, 2008 4:45:30 AM

melbatoast said:
Thanks for explaining it, that makes a lot more sense now. I ended up with the 640, placed the order this morning. I was really tempted to get the 1 TB but I also want to upgrade the rest of my computer so that's more money to that :)  And now I'll know what to look for when I decide to get another hard drive :sol: 

That should be a good choice - it's a 2 platter drive, so has 320GB/platter. It should be quite fast.
December 9, 2008 5:31:05 AM

I did have a surge protector and this time it killed that PLUS messed up my computer a little bit (but I managed to recover everything). I'm actually searching right now for another. We don't have the smartest people playing with that stuff here, and with repeated abuse any surge will fail eventually so I just wanted the extra protection. :)  Thanks for the program advice too, I'll look into that. I'm mostly concerned about my photos which I don't mind manually moving if I have to, but it would be nice to back up the whole thing too.
a b G Storage
December 9, 2008 5:50:01 AM

well with constant power problems a good UPS would be what you want. Surge strips will stop spikes in power, but sudden and rapid power loss will hurt computers too. A good UPS protect you from both.
December 9, 2008 9:47:25 AM

I just installed two WD Caviar SE16 Blue 320GB in two different computer builds, much faster formatting and installing Windows XP over my Raptor 150! The Raptor's have the advantage in I/O performance with blazing fast access times, the WD Caviar SE16's have more throughput than a Raptor and loads Windows 2-6 seconds faster to desktop! I understand you want a 1TB HDD, I'm sure the Caviar SE16's go that high.
a c 351 G Storage
December 9, 2008 4:25:23 PM

To add to CJL's excellent overview.
Another factor is angular velocity. HDDs write to the outer edge of the platters and move in as more data is written to the platter. Angular velocity is highest on the outer edge of the plater (ie it takes less time to travel over a single track on the outer portion of a plater than the inner space.) This generally favors the Larger capacity drives where a smaller percentage of the drive is used.

Partitioning a drive does not change the drive speed or average read/write times. However it can improve performance over a non partioned drive. By making your "C" drive small (enough for operating system and programs (Current and anticipated) this keeps the op and programs close to the outer edge. Then make a small "D" drive (ie 15 Gigs. for the "windows swap file ONLY). This does two things -1. reduces fragmentation of "C" drive and 2nd also keeps it permantly closer to the end of the plater(s) minus the op and programs. 3rd I use the remander of the drive as "E" for all your data/music/video files. This also makes backing up YOUR data simpler.

2nd, the use of an UPS. One cavet, if you can afford it, get one that has a CONSTANT regulated output. Most UPS have a set point ie 80->90 VAC and a responce time (Guess - 1 millisecond) before the switch. In my house I can see the lights momentary diming when a Vacuum cleaner is switched on. Momentary "Brownouts" can be ruff on a computer over time. Need to temper the cost with need, if only concern is with toal power drop offs then the cheaper option is more cost effective.
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