Importance of hdd cache?

I want to get my sister and I a new hard drive because there is very little space on it. Either a 160 or 320 gb hard drive. I was looking around on newegg and found one that i thought would have worked well but one of the reviews said it should just be used as a storage drive because it only had 8mb cache which led to a slower start up. This computer is running xp and i wasnt sure if a hdd with 16mb cache would perform that much better than one with 8mb.
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  1. Slightly better, yes, and the ones with 32 MB caches just a little better again. The differences are in the time to locate a file and feed its data to you. If you don't need speed you probably can tolerate the difference easily. A larger cache is really a help at working with access to long sequential files, but less help when your application has to jump all over the disk looking for new small files. Gamers love big caches, fast HDD rotational speeds, RAID0 arrays - anything that gives a tiny margin of improved performance. Many everyday users find these small improvements hard to notice.
  2. I used a 8MB to install a game demo stored on the drive. I think the demo was either call of duty 4 or unreal tournament 3 or both and it took forever compared to a 16MB. Never used a 32MB but sounds fast. Try to experiment with those mentioned demos and get out your stop watch. Otherwise if you keep your drive defragmented it doesn't really effect actual in game performance.
  3. Buffer size makes virtually no difference that you will be able to see. If you are looking for a fast reasonably priced drive either get a black or 12
  4. more than buffer size you want a drive with a high data density

    since drives can only read one side of one platter at a time.. a drive with 500GB/platter is alot faster than one with 250/GB/platter.

    something like a seagate 7200.12 500GB can be had for about 50$ if you watch for a sale.

    its a 1 platter drive with 16MB buffer

    49.99 + free ship from newegg for a 320GB, 59.99 for a 500GB

    dont be scared of ignorant reviews only read the ones from people who dont seem like idiots.

    and for the record the 7200.12 series have none of the firmware problems of the 7200.11 series.
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