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Best 3.5" to install OS?

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July 8, 2009 5:28:39 PM

I use an old 37GB Raptor for Windows and soon Win 7 will be out and I am thinking of getting a new hard drive to install the OS.

I do not necessarily need a drive to be very big since I am only going to have the OS on it.
A 160GB would be more than enough for the system but according to the charts here I have to get something around 500GB or something.

The Seagate Barracuda 7200.11 ST3500320AS is one of the smallest and cheapest I found in my area
but the exact drive is not in the charts of tom's hardware.


Any suggestions or advice?

More about : install

a b G Storage
July 9, 2009 5:14:12 AM

The larger each platter is, the faster they will tend to be. I'd lean towards either a WD Caviar Black series, or a Seagate 7200.12 series drive.
a b G Storage
July 9, 2009 6:44:18 AM

if you wanna pay extra for the performance the velociraptor, otherwise a caviar black
Related resources
a b G Storage
July 9, 2009 7:05:38 AM

Or the new Seagate 500 GB/platter .12 drives. Or wait for WD to follow.
July 9, 2009 9:28:20 AM

cjl said:
The larger each platter is, the faster they will tend to be. I'd lean towards either a WD Caviar Black series, or a Seagate 7200.12 series drive.


jsc said:
Or the new Seagate 500 GB/platter .12 drives. Or wait for WD to follow.


So I suppose the 7200.12 is better than the 7200.11?

Does the 7200.12 come in 500GB or smaller with 32MB cache?


505090 said:
if you wanna pay extra for the performance the velociraptor, otherwise a caviar black

I would love a velociraptor but I hate the price. lol


I usually prefer WD but in Tom's Hardware charts the caviar Black are not doing as well as others.
a b G Storage
July 9, 2009 9:59:43 AM

Then get the smallest/cheapest 7200.12 drive. They are rather fast.

The best of course would be the raptor or one of the good SSDs. OS drives don't need fast transfer rates, but quick seek times. An OS drive doesn't transfer large blocks like your data drives, but has to load this .DLL, then that .exe. The ability to find them fast is what matters. As you said however, you hate the price. The next best thing would be the 7200.12 series.
July 9, 2009 11:37:33 AM

4745454b said:
Then get the smallest/cheapest 7200.12 drive. They are rather fast.

The best of course would be the raptor or one of the good SSDs. OS drives don't need fast transfer rates, but quick seek times. An OS drive doesn't transfer large blocks like your data drives, but has to load this .DLL, then that .exe. The ability to find them fast is what matters. As you said however, you hate the price. The next best thing would be the 7200.12 series.

Nice info, thanks!
I didn't know that transfer rates are not the most important for an OS drive.

Which benchmark reflects seek time and a better drive for an OS in this link:
http://www.tomshardware.com/charts/3.5-hard-drive-chart...

And lastly do you think it's worth the upgrade from a 37GB Raptor with 16MB cache as far as OS performance is concerned?

Edit:
I am starting to think that the only drive worth upgrading is the velociraptor 74GB in terms of OS performance. :/ 
a b G Storage
July 9, 2009 2:22:31 PM

The 37GB raptor isn't bad in seek, but the transfer speeds are really low compared to the newest drives. It is a bit like a teeter totter, you can't increase one at the expense of the other. The 74GB raptor is pretty nice as well, just make sure you get the newer model. (I believe its a single platter instead of two 37GB platters. AFAD? Something like that.)

I'm a media wh0r3, so I would never buy drives that small. A thought in passing, see if there are any 250GB 7200.12. If the platters are 500GBs large, a 250 would be nothing more then a short stroked single platter drive. I should be a hair faster then a normal 500GB. Just a thought, I have no idea if it even exists.
a b G Storage
July 9, 2009 3:04:36 PM

the 74 gig is the raptor the velociraptor only comes in 150 and 300. The caviar black is faster than a raptor.
a b G Storage
July 10, 2009 1:19:06 AM

4745454b said:
The 37GB raptor isn't bad in seek, but the transfer speeds are really low compared to the newest drives. It is a bit like a teeter totter, you can't increase one at the expense of the other. The 74GB raptor is pretty nice as well, just make sure you get the newer model. (I believe its a single platter instead of two 37GB platters. AFAD? Something like that.)

I'm a media wh0r3, so I would never buy drives that small. A thought in passing, see if there are any 250GB 7200.12. If the platters are 500GBs large, a 250 would be nothing more then a short stroked single platter drive. I should be a hair faster then a normal 500GB. Just a thought, I have no idea if it even exists.

Actually, the 250 would be a single surface drive. 500GB would be one platter, both sides (2 head), while 250 would be one platter, one side (1 head). It would still be quite fast though, and I believe there is a 250GB 7200.12. The Caviar Black wouldn't be bad either. Realistically, both the 7200.12 and Caviar Black drives beat the older gen raptors, so unless you can get a velociraptor, don't bother with the 10krpm drives.


EDIT: yep, the 250GB 7200.12 exists. Here it is: http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
a b G Storage
July 10, 2009 3:02:47 AM

So a short stroked (only using the outer edge of the platter) would be a 120GB? Perhaps a 160GB... Wouldn't the Raptor be a bit better due to the faster seek times, and the not much slower transfer rates? If the 74GB Raptor has 4.9ms seek with 85MB transfers, and the 7200.12/WD black has 9ms seek and 90-95MB transfers, I would think the Raptor would be better as an OS drive. Not as good as other drives for large files, but perfect for loading small OS files.
a b G Storage
July 10, 2009 5:23:34 AM

I don't think they make one that is short stroked from the factory. Of course, you could always buy a 500GB model and only use the first 100-200GB.

As for the comparison with the raptor, the Seagate 7200.12 actually has 120+MB/s transfers on the OD (where the OS resides), and 100+ on the ID, so its quite a bit faster than a 74GB Raptor. In addition, some firmware tricks and a large cache allow it to beat the 74GB raptor in pretty much every way (Same goes for the 150GB Raptor X). The Velociraptor still beats it though. Obviously in synthetic access time benchmarks, the raptor will win, but in real world applications, the Seagate will beat the Raptor nearly every time.
a b G Storage
July 10, 2009 6:59:15 AM

Cheaper than what? The 500GB 7200.12 is even cheaper, and faster, but the Caviar Black is definitely a better value than the Velociraptor.
July 10, 2009 11:00:48 AM

What do I have to look for in the specs for a fast OS HDD?

I thought seek time, cache, RPM and as less platters as possible. Hence the 37GB raptor with 16MB cache.

4745454b said:
The 37GB raptor isn't bad in seek, but the transfer speeds are really low compared to the newest drives. It is a bit like a teeter totter, you can't increase one at the expense of the other. The 74GB raptor is pretty nice as well, just make sure you get the newer model. (I believe its a single platter instead of two 37GB platters. AFAD? Something like that.)

I'm a media wh0r3, so I would never buy drives that small. A thought in passing, see if there are any 250GB 7200.12. If the platters are 500GBs large, a 250 would be nothing more then a short stroked single platter drive. I should be a hair faster then a normal 500GB. Just a thought, I have no idea if it even exists.


TBH I don't mind transferring long files slower as long as the system is more responsive and can load OS files faster.

So, I suppose your OS HDD is quite bigger than what I am talking about. lol

Do you partition it? doesn't this affect performance?

505090 said:
the 74 gig is the raptor the velociraptor only comes in 150 and 300. The caviar black is faster than a raptor.


My bad, it's just that some online retailers list a 74GB velociraptor which I suppose now is wrongly listed.

cjl said:
EDIT: yep, the 250GB 7200.12 exists. Here it is: http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...


Doesn't it matter that this has a 8MB cache, compared with the bigger 7200.12s?

dallasjoh said:
The WD Caviar Black 640GB is very good for the OS and a lot cheaper @ $74.99
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

I already got one of this for storage, and I got it because of the good reviews. I would love the irony if my 640GB turns out to be faster than the 37GB raptor for OS use.
a b G Storage
July 10, 2009 12:45:03 PM

MjWoNeR said:


I already got one of this for storage, and I got it because of the good reviews. I would love the irony if my 640GB turns out to be faster than the 37GB raptor for OS use.


i repeat the caviar blacks are faster than the raptors. My 76 gig raptor is currently a door stop.
a b G Storage
July 10, 2009 11:37:11 PM

MjWoNeR said:
What do I have to look for in the specs for a fast OS HDD?

I thought seek time, cache, RPM and as less platters as possible. Hence the 37GB raptor with 16MB cache.


You actually want the largest possible platters. So, although the 37GB raptor only has one platter, it is only a 37GB platter. By comparison, the Velociraptor uses 150GB platters, and is MUCH faster in sequential reads because of it. The 7200RPM drives have even larger platters (the Seagate is the current record holder, at 500GB/platter, and the Caviar Blacks are second, at 320GB/platter for the 320 and 640GB models, and 333GB/platter on the 1TB). So, you want to look for the fewest possible platters for a given capacity. A 1 platter 500GB drive will beat a 2 platter 500GB drive any day (ignoring other factors), but even the 2 platter 500GB will beat a single platter 100GB drive due to the larger capacity per platter. Higher spin speed will make up for some of this (which is why the 150GB/platter Velociraptor is roughly equivalent to the 500GB/platter 7200.12 in sequentials), but the older Raptors are at too much of a density disadvantage to really compete any more.

MjWoNeR said:

TBH I don't mind transferring long files slower as long as the system is more responsive and can load OS files faster.

Both transfer speed and seek time are important though. The combination of the two is what gives your system a responsive feel, which is why despite its slower seek time, a modern 7200rpm drive with its much higher sequential transfer speed will feel faster than an old, 37GB Raptor.

MjWoNeR said:

So, I suppose your OS HDD is quite bigger than what I am talking about. lol

Mine is 600GB (a pair of Velociraptor 300GB in RAID 0), with a Caviar Black 1TB used as a secondary storage drive. I have a lot of stuff on this computer though.

MjWoNeR said:

Do you partition it? doesn't this affect performance?

Mine is a single large partition, but you can significantly improve performance with proper partitioning. If all you need is a small, fast drive, you could get one of the Seagate 500GB 7200.12s and only put a partition on the first 80-100GB. If the rest of it is left completely unused, you are in essence restricting the distance that the head will have to move to find any given piece of data. Because of this, it can get to data within the partition significantly faster than if you were using the full disk, and can approach a Raptor in seek time. In addition, since you are restricting it to the outer edge of the disk, you remain in the fastest sequential region as well. You do lose most of the capacity, but it is still usually cheaper than a 10krpm drive per usable GB.

MjWoNeR said:

My bad, it's just that some online retailers list a 74GB velociraptor which I suppose now is wrongly listed.

Probably, since the Velociraptor uses 150GB disks.


MjWoNeR said:

Doesn't it matter that this has a 8MB cache, compared with the bigger 7200.12s?

Slightly, yes, but it won't significantly harm performance. Of course, you could always get this one and short stroke it if you want a larger cache: http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...


MjWoNeR said:

I already got one of this for storage, and I got it because of the good reviews. I would love the irony if my 640GB turns out to be faster than the 37GB raptor for OS use.

If you got the Caviar Black, yes, it would probably feel more responsive than your raptor.
July 12, 2009 10:57:57 AM

Thanks for taking the time to answer my questions. You answered a crap lots of them. Seriously.

505090 said:
i repeat the caviar blacks are faster than the raptors. My 76 gig raptor is currently a door stop.

One Ouch! for the raptor.
cjl said:
Mine is a single large partition, but you can significantly improve performance with proper partitioning. If all you need is a small, fast drive, you could get one of the Seagate 500GB 7200.12s and only put a partition on the first 80-100GB. If the rest of it is left completely unused, you are in essence restricting the distance that the head will have to move to find any given piece of data. Because of this, it can get to data within the partition significantly faster than if you were using the full disk, and can approach a Raptor in seek time. In addition, since you are restricting it to the outer edge of the disk, you remain in the fastest sequential region as well. You do lose most of the capacity, but it is still usually cheaper than a 10krpm drive per usable GB.


Probably, since the Velociraptor uses 150GB disks.



Slightly, yes, but it won't significantly harm performance. Of course, you could always get this one and short stroke it if you want a larger cache: http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...



If you got the Caviar Black, yes, it would probably feel more responsive than your raptor.

Thank you for all the help. and taking the time to explain thoroughly.

I think I am going to get the 500GB 7200.12 with 16MB cache and partition the first 80GB to use for the OS.

The difference in price between the 250GB and the 500GB here is only ~$7-€7 so it should worth it.
July 12, 2009 4:40:54 PM

Although tested as OS X boot drives this article should offer some insight into both the performance of the various drives and which tests reflect tasks more commonly used as a boot drive.

The 1 TB Caviar Black seems to be almost as good as the 300 GB Velociraptor in these tests (and costs $100 instead of $230 if price is a consideration). The Caviar Black was not tested as a RAID 0 (striped) array. It is likely that such an array would outperform a single Velociraptor. (Note the scores for the two drive Velociraptor RAID 0 array.)

Don't forget that the outer portion of the drive is always the fastest. There are tests which show the rate at which performance of a drive declines as it is filled up.

If you were to partition a two drive Caviar Black striped array to use the outer 1/4 or 1/3 of the drives you should have a high performance setup. Your would want a hardware RAID controller though.
a c 415 G Storage
July 12, 2009 8:41:11 PM

Ronin_1 said:
If you were to partition a two drive Caviar Black striped array to use the outer 1/4 or 1/3 of the drives you should have a high performance setup. Your would want a hardware RAID controller though.

I agree with the concept of partitioning in order to reduce seek times. Something to consider, though, is that if you have a good disk defragmenter which moves all the files to the lowest LBNs on the drive, you're going to get the same kind of performance without the hard limitation on maximum capacity.

Of course the tradeoff is that you have to defragment to make sure that happens, and that in itself is a performance issue. Might be OK if you can schedule it for overnight or other unused times, though.
July 13, 2009 5:43:56 PM

Ronin_1 said:
Although tested as OS X boot drives this article should offer some insight into both the performance of the various drives and which tests reflect tasks more commonly used as a boot drive.

The 1 TB Caviar Black seems to be almost as good as the 300 GB Velociraptor in these tests (and costs $100 instead of $230 if price is a consideration). The Caviar Black was not tested as a RAID 0 (striped) array. It is likely that such an array would outperform a single Velociraptor. (Note the scores for the two drive Velociraptor RAID 0 array.)

Don't forget that the outer portion of the drive is always the fastest. There are tests which show the rate at which performance of a drive declines as it is filled up.

If you were to partition a two drive Caviar Black striped array to use the outer 1/4 or 1/3 of the drives you should have a high performance setup. Your would want a hardware RAID controller though.

The 1TB black costs twice as much as the 500GB 7200.12 Seagate.

Do you think it's worth it?
a b G Storage
July 13, 2009 5:47:20 PM

Nope. Especially because the 7200.12 is equal to the 1TB Caviar Black in nearly every way except capacity (and it's actually faster on sequentials).
July 15, 2009 11:51:30 PM

cjl said:
Nope. Especially because the 7200.12 is equal to the 1TB Caviar Black in nearly every way except capacity (and it's actually faster on sequentials).

Thanks yet again.

The 7200.12 it is then.
July 16, 2009 5:27:40 PM

Does it matter what WD Black I get or are they equally fast? 500gb, 640gb, 750gb, 1Tb?
a b G Storage
July 16, 2009 5:37:43 PM

640 then 1tb are the fastest but you'll never see it outside a benchmark so just get the one with the best price for the size you need
July 16, 2009 6:59:13 PM

Thanx for the info! Ive read alot of reviews about the 7200.12 failing and I know WD is a good company Ive had the same 2 WD 80gb drives running my pc for 4 years now passing from new computer to new computer its time to upgrade to sata with my new build.
a b G Storage
July 16, 2009 7:56:15 PM

edwinhess said:
Does it matter what WD Black I get or are they equally fast? 500gb, 640gb, 750gb, 1Tb?

640 and 1TB are quite a bit faster than the 500GB and 750GB, due to their larger platter size (320GB instead of 250GB).
August 1, 2009 8:45:36 PM

I am back yet again.

I am about to order the new HDD and I was looking at the prices, which all are within my budget more or less.

7200.12 500GB ~$51
7200.12 1TB ~$85
Black 640GB ~$68


I know so far that all three drives are good to install an OS, but I was wondering.

Would I notice a difference between these drives in everyday OS usage, or is the difference noticeable mostly in benchmarks?


I started thinking that I would really like an SSD for the OS, like the X25-M G2 80GB which is kind of affordable.
So if I am not going to notice any real difference in OS performance between these drives I might as well get the 640GB or the 1TB so I can turn it into a storage drive once I get the SSD.
a c 415 G Storage
August 1, 2009 10:32:08 PM

The performance differences between the listed hard drives are measurable, but not all that noticeable. My rule of thumb is that if the difference is less than 20% it's not noticeable unless you're running things side-by-side. And I'd be very surprised if the differences between those hard drives were even as much as 10%.

On the other hand for booting the OS and loading applications the difference between the hard drives and an SSD is like night and day.
August 2, 2009 3:14:56 AM

If you are concerned about cost, it is going to be a long time before the SSD prices get down to where you are likely to give them serious consideration.

The Seagate 7200.12 series are supposed to have the firmware issues resolved. I guess we will only know for sure with the passage of enough time.

The WD Black drives have a 5 year warranty if that is of any concern to you.
August 3, 2009 4:18:23 PM

sminlal said:
The performance differences between the listed hard drives are measurable, but not all that noticeable. My rule of thumb is that if the difference is less than 20% it's not noticeable unless you're running things side-by-side. And I'd be very surprised if the differences between those hard drives were even as much as 10%.

On the other hand for booting the OS and loading applications the difference between the hard drives and an SSD is like night and day.

Thanks for the input. I suspected that I wouldn't notice any difference out of a benchmark..
Ronin_1 said:
If you are concerned about cost, it is going to be a long time before the SSD prices get down to where you are likely to give them serious consideration.

The Seagate 7200.12 series are supposed to have the firmware issues resolved. I guess we will only know for sure with the passage of enough time.

The WD Black drives have a 5 year warranty if that is of any concern to you.

I wouldn't mind a price cut in SSD but I am not waiting for one either. The X25-M G2 80GB is a drive I could get at some point through the year, just not right now.

The performance is nearly the same, the prices are nice and all 3 drives are affordable right now. So reliability and warranty is my main concern at the moment.

I've always used WD and never had any problems, so I'm a bit sceptical to get the Seagate.
August 5, 2009 11:43:02 AM

I ordered the 640 black.

The .12 500gb might be slightly faster for the OS than the 640 but having 0 failure rate with my WD drives I chickened out on the .12. Oh well.
a b G Storage
August 6, 2009 1:49:01 AM

You should be quite happy with it :) 

I've always liked Seagate, but WD is quite nice too. Actually, my current system is entirely WD based (2x300GB Velociraptors for OS/apps, Caviar Black 1TB for other stuff), and I'm completely satisfied with it. With the price cuts on the Intel drives though, I may get an x25-m when Win7 comes out and set up a 3-tiered setup with the velociraptors as program and app drives, the SSD with the OS, and the Caviar Black as storage/docs.
August 6, 2009 2:58:18 PM

Thanks. It will do until I get an SSD around Win7 release.

The X25-M G2 is the SSD i'm keeping an eye on as well. Although at the moment the X25-M seems to be more in stock than the G2.

80GB for the system are perfect, at least for me. And it's quite affordable as it is right now. If Win7 was out I would have already gotten it. When the time comes I'm gonna have the SSD for the OS and 2 640s for storage.
November 9, 2009 10:20:07 AM

sorry to revive the thread, but sminlal,
u said that a good defragging program would be good for the larger drives:
what is a good one that u suggest? im going to use Defragger by lavasoft (i think), but is there any other good ones?

and how large should i partition a win7 drive with games, apps, data? cause if i can get away with 2 partitions, it'll save a lot of back-up time...1 for apps, OS, games, data, and the other for media...

i just can't see the point of spending an extra $95 aud for another caviar black 640gb ($115 for 1TB version) for RAID0, when i wouldn't use the space, and if you can increase the speed by short stroking, and also lessen the chance of hdd failure (tho small, is still something to think about)

BTW: is there any guides to this, or is it just making the partition smaller, and sacrificing useless space?

bit confused, but hopeful i can save some ca$h
MICK
November 12, 2009 1:56:44 AM

I have The 640 WD Black also. I use disktrix for my defragging and LOVE IT!! If there is something better then that, then I want to hear about it. As far as short stroking Im interested in this as well.
December 24, 2009 12:49:32 PM

Interesting reading thanks. With a new machine coming, I opted for 1TB Caviar Black at delivery so that the OS can be installed and the builders can configure/tune the system.

The idea was that upon arrival I would move a U320 SCSI subsystem from my existing computer into this new one. The current uses a 300GB 15K rpm U320 drive primarily for the OS. 8 other 300 GB U320 drives run variously at 10K and 15K carrying applications, data, media and backup. The system has always seemed sprightly. The processor (Pentium 3.4 Extreme) is a bit slow for some operations.

I hope somebody may know whether it is worth moving the OS from the Caviar Black to a 15K U320 drive. Perhaps SATAII is far enough ahead now that a slower drive will compete.

I have always liked keeping a single drive for the OS and 1TB is way overkill for that purpose.

SCSI has served me very well. It seems to manage multiple drives and multiple calls very well and maintain good sustained transfer but if there is no advantage any more I may be as well just to get another Black Caviar drive running two of them in raid and shuffling data and backup out to the network.

What do you reckon?

Thanks
a b G Storage
December 24, 2009 4:29:45 PM

The current 1tb drives won't match a 300GB 15k, honestly. They'll be a lot quieter and use a lot less power, but they won't be as fast. The 1TB is a great drive, don't get me wrong, but if what you want is the fastest possible drive, either stay with your 15k or upgrade to an SSD for your OS.

The 1TB will be a great storage drive though, and if you don't mind a bit less speed than your current setup, it would work well as an OS drive too.
December 24, 2009 11:56:18 PM

cjl said:
The current 1tb drives won't match a 300GB 15k...the 1TB will be a great storage drive though


Thanks very much cjl - I had no clue on the comparison and that sets me on the path. I had been contemplating an SSD (but the price for weight frightened me a bit.) Will look again otherwise shift the OS to a U320 drive.

It had ocurred to me that the OS would actually load small bits and pieces into memory so that there wouldnt be too many accesses anyway and always wondered if there was any advantage in sticking it on my fastest drive but reckon by the sounds of the comments on this thread that it was probably, inadvertently, the right thing to do.

Regards

ian
a b G Storage
December 25, 2009 12:54:14 AM

It's true that the OS sticks things in memory, and a fast drive gives the largest benefit in boot and in program loading. It's still nice to have though.
December 25, 2009 6:10:28 AM

"...It's still nice to have though..."

:-) My type of talk. Thanks.
December 25, 2009 6:28:13 AM

[I've always used WD and never had any problems, so I'm a bit sceptical to get the Seagate.[/quotemsg]

Hello Mjw,

I on the other hand have always used Seagate (including HP rebadged Seagates.) Dozens. As they are all SCSI their durability may be a bit different but I am pleased to say that I have never had one failure and I think never any bad sectors.

Some have retired with their machines as they were just too small to bother with. (the power use of an old 40MB appears to be similar to a recent 500GB drive.) A couple years ago I fired up the old Amiga 1000 from 1986 which has a A500 40MB HD attachment turned upside down. It had'nt been used for a decade. Fired up perfectly, the drive (Seagate) still carried everything and could access it.

That sort of experience could lull you into a false sense of security but the rare seeming possibility of a Seagate failure would be nicely countered by good backup housekeeping necessary for other purposes anyway.

(I am not on Seagate's payroll)
!