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What shou look for when buying a hard drive

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  • Hard Drives
  • Computer
  • Storage
Last response: in Storage
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June 21, 2009 9:14:29 AM

i have been searching for a new hard drive for my computer but i dont know what i should consider when looking for one. does brand matter? what about the rpm? any information you have will be very useful thanks in advanced!!!!!

More about : shou buying hard drive

June 21, 2009 2:06:25 PM

what interface? sata/ide
i recommend western digital
7200rpm is best price/perf
June 22, 2009 2:09:50 AM

i would prefer to get a sata 2, what other things should i look for?
a b G Storage
June 22, 2009 2:25:31 AM

Cache and warranty should be considered.
June 22, 2009 4:14:27 AM

Cache is temporary memory. Since the Hard Drive can't write information down as fast as the SATA interface can send it there the information has somewhere to wait so that the Operating System can consider that data done with and move on to it's next task. Of course it also hold recently accessed information, and really if you want to understand all the benefits just freaking Google it.

Generally the more cache the better. I say go with a Western Digital Cavalier Black Drive.
June 22, 2009 4:20:14 AM

how much cache would you say would be good i googled it but came up with varied answers!!!
June 22, 2009 4:43:50 AM

If your looking for internal drives, there are a couple of things that are important to look for. Mostly it's performance and dependability.

In the performance category, more cache will improve your burstable read speed, but faster RPMs and smaller seek times will increase overall performance. I never get less than a 72,000 rpm drive, but that's me.

In the dependability category, try looking at the major brands and ignoring the hype. Everyone has different opinions, but the main three are still Maxtor, Seagate and Western Digital.

If you're looking at external drives, the brand has to do with the enclosure and the software, NOT THE DRIVE ITSELF. A Lacie drive may have a Seagate or a WD drive inside of it.
a c 102 G Storage
June 22, 2009 6:12:32 AM

You haven't said what it's for.

If you want maximum loading speed in games, then the Western Digital Velociraptor is fastest but it's expensive.

One of the very best all around hard drives is the WD 1TB Black.

You should have two hard drives. One for Windows + games and apps and a second one for backing up. The second one could also be a USB or eSATA version.

Aside from the hard drive, it's important to have enough RAM. You should have at least 1GB. Anything above 4GB is generally overkill unless you have a specific program that needs it. No game exists that uses it and no benefit in Windows multitasking can be seen above 4GB.

Don't worry about the cache.

Recommendations:
Main drive:
WD 1TB Black or WD Velociraptor

Second drive:
WD 1TB Green

Advanced recommendation:
2x WD 1TB Black (RAID0): not for newbies. Gives 1860GB of space at average read speeds of up to 200MB/second.

At about $100 on sale for a WD 1TB drive, it's insane to spend $80 for a drive with a lot less capacity and an older design.

All drives now are SATA with a few IDE/PATA left.

SSD:
Wait another year for price and quality. I'll upgrade my computer after SATA 600 is released and get an SSD (or two as RAID0) to give me 600MB/second.
June 22, 2009 6:18:20 AM

i will be using this drive mostly for high end gaming which i assume will require a reasonable fast hard drive my computer has a smaller hard drive for programs thanks for all the great advice
a c 102 G Storage
June 22, 2009 6:32:19 AM

I'd get the WD 1TB Black, then if it's not fast enough consider another one and RAID0.

Consider using a program like Acronis True Image to create an image of your C-drive partition. You should make an image of Windows and back it up to your second drive.

I had major software issues once (couldn't even boot). I did this:
1) Booted my Acronis CD
2) chose my latest Windows/C-drive image to restore
3) Waited 15 minutes
4) Started Windows
5) Imported my e-mail into Outlook 2007 (which I export every week)

I choose Western Digital as they are probably the most reliable currently. Seagate is coming out with some new Barracuda LP drives which are EXACTLY the same as WD's latest specs wise. I imagine the new Seagate's will be just fine but the WD's, especially the 1TB Black, 1TB Green and Velociraptor seem to be the best.

The 1TB Black is slightly faster than the green at the expense of a little noise and power. The 1TB Green is thus perfect for a second drive but the 1TB Black is great for a main drive. The 1TB Black has impressive read speeds but the seek times are slower than the Velociraptors.

Seek times are more important for multi-tasking in Windows whereas gamers care about the average read speeds the most. The average read speed on the outer edge of the platter (where programs are installed to first) is 2x higher than at the inner platter. I think it works out that, at about 150GB the WD 1TB actually begins to have FASTER average read speeds because due to its larger capacity it drops off slower. Interesting, huh? So as a gamer your paying that premium for the first 150GB. Is it worth it now?

As much as I love my Velociraptor I have lots of games and in retrospect wish I'd gotten two WD 1TB Black's in RAID0 as I ran out of space on my Velociraptor. With downloadable games (STEAM) getting popular it's getting easier to do.

With RAID0 however, I'd probably backup to an external drive as I wouldn't want three drives due to the noise. eSATA is the best way to go.
June 22, 2009 6:36:56 AM

what are the specs of those drives
June 22, 2009 6:45:47 AM

hhheatherrr said:
If your looking for internal drives, there are a couple of things that are important to look for. Mostly it's performance and dependability.

In the performance category, more cache will improve your burstable read speed, but faster RPMs and smaller seek times will increase overall performance. I never get less than a 72,000 rpm drive, but that's me.

In the dependability category, try looking at the major brands and ignoring the hype. Everyone has different opinions, but the main three are still Maxtor, Seagate and Western Digital.

If you're looking at external drives, the brand has to do with the enclosure and the software, NOT THE DRIVE ITSELF. A Lacie drive may have a Seagate or a WD drive inside of it.


I never get less than a 72,000 rpm drive, but that's me.

ORLY???
a c 102 G Storage
June 22, 2009 6:51:18 AM

Specs:
All companies make their specs easily available. Start here:
http://www.wdc.com/en/products/index.asp?cat=3

black: http://www.wdc.com/en/library/sata/2879-701276.pdf

velociraptor: http://www.wdc.com/en/library/sata/2879-701282.pdf

green: http://www.wdc.com/en/library/sata/2879-701229.pdf

max read speed MB/sec (black/green/velociraptor):

106/111/126

I don't see the black or green seek times here but there higher than the Velociraptors. Also, the Blacks average read speed appears to be higher than the greens which is NOT true. I own both and just tested them Not sure what the deal is.
June 22, 2009 7:23:37 AM

thanks for all the information it has been very very helpful!!!!!!!!!!!!! if anyone has anything to add feel free
November 25, 2009 2:33:15 PM

I have 2 WD Black in Raid0 and I just love them :) 
The problem is I needed to format twice because the fking raid failled...
a c 102 G Storage
November 27, 2009 12:27:09 AM

A good choice.

I have so many games I filled up my Velociraptor (and it's expensive). Of course, I don't need them all but on my next computer I'll install ALL my games and leave it that way (and use ROXIP XSTART to organize).

RAID0 has the same SEEK times, but average reading and writing should be close to DOUBLE. SEEK times are most important for smaller files. Game loading times are probably 60% to 90% faster.

In the future (about two years), I think I may do something like this:
1) SSD for Windows, programs and a couple games (SATA600; maybe a 120GB SSD @ 500MB/second+ read/write)
2) Hard drives in RAID0 for the rest of my games

(FYI, I made a mistake. The BLACK version is FASTER than the GREEN.)
a b G Storage
December 1, 2009 10:38:42 AM

The 1.5TB is a green drive, which is slower, uses less power, and is quieter.
December 1, 2009 10:40:43 AM

So for OS/Games go with the Black and Storage go Green?
a c 102 G Storage
December 3, 2009 12:01:09 AM

Yes.
February 2, 2010 4:00:11 AM

Seagate Barracuda XT ST32000641AS 2TB 7200 RPM 64MB Cache SATA 6.0Gb/s versus 2TB WD Caviar Black SATA 3 Gb/s, 64 MB Cache, 7200 RPM, which of these two hdds has better performance and faster processing speed and why? And also are they better than the WD Caviar Black 1TB, SATA 3 Gb/s, 32 MB Cache, 7200 RPM. Thanks.
a c 102 G Storage
February 6, 2010 1:15:43 AM

Links to WD Green and Black drives:
Green: http://www.wdc.com/wdproducts/library/SpecSheet/ENG/287...
Black: http://www.wdc.com/wdproducts/library/SpecSheet/ENG/287...

First of all, Western Digital developed a new technology that other companies are adopting:

"Advanced Formatting
Technology being adopted by WD and other drive manufacturers to increase media format efficiencies, thus enabling larger drive capacities. (WDxxEARS and WDxxxxAARS models only)"

Error correction is 50% better. You can google for more information if you want.

Faster/better?
If you get a main drive for Windows you want it to be fast. If you get a backup drive usually you want a quieter (thus slower) drive.

It's hard to justify a 2TB drive for a main drive. The fastest one (FASS model I believe) takes longer to spin up after being shut down in idle but performance is really impressive. The price is likely still over $300 so it's hard to justify and noise needs to be considered. For that price you could get a 2x1TB WD Black setup with a 1TB backup drive.

Speed:
I'll link you to the WD charts for Green and Black drives. Knowing that these drives are reliable, the main considerations are:
1) READ SPEED,
2) SEEK TIMES aka "Latency" (I explained earlier).
3) Price
4) Noise

My specific advice is this:

Main drive(s):
WD1002FAEX (1TB Black; 126MB/second max read speed)

Second drive:
WD10EARS (1TB Green; new formatting technology)

Optional setup:
1) two main drives of same exact model in RAID0 (if you understand how)
2) the secondary drive (or a third drive if need be) in a USB or preferably an eSATA external setup. Turn off the power when not needed to minimize noise and wear on the drive. Perfect for infrequently used files. Many case options; I have the Thermaltake BlacX in an eSATA configuration. You could put the WD Green drive in your case at first and then move it externally if you discover you rarely access it.

Summary:
- you can look up Seagate and other product specs
- balance price, read speed, noise,
- ignore SSD's for at least another year

I couldn't answer your question exactly because "better" varies from person to person. I can't justify a high performance 2TB drive if it's for storage. I like the new format technology but didn't recommend it for a main drive because the 1TB version was slower. I don't even know how much storage you need. I hope this answer helps you find the best configuration for the price.
!