Since you're considering the Samsung SpinPoint F3 500 GB drive, I presume that your Mobo is SATA capable, and if so I'd recommend the WD 640 GB Black. Pls check your MOBO specs and make sure before you buy. It's a single platter drive with 32 MB cache and is the same price as the WD 500 GB that you're considering, but with 140 GB more storage space. The 640 GB drive is also very highly rated as well.
The 640 Black by Western Digital is a fast drive. Only 118 MB/s throughput, what is that all about? I would like to see a drive that performs any better, especially for the money. Some say they are a little noisy, but with todays GPUS, CPU's and case fans, any noise a drive may make is a ridiculous thing to complain about. The 640 black has been a long standing enthusiast choice for speed, reliability, and price.
Seagate drives, they are decent, but I would be hesitant to recommend from personal experiences over the years. Have not been overly happy with them.
Stay away from Samsung and Hitachi. They are a very small segment of the market for a reason.
Just because some individual complains or leaves a negative comment in the Newegg reviews, that certainly does not mean it is accurate. Read the reviews at Newegg with a grain of salt. 99% of the issues written there are caused by what is in between the chair and the keyboard, and not the hardware its self.
If you're going to consider a RAID array. I would highly recommend getting two of the WD RE series drives for your array. They do cost more and usually have less cache.
Due to the different methods of error correction between regular desktop and RE drives, a problem can occur that can cause a drive to drop from the array. In a RAID environment, the RAID controller has a timeout factor for error correction, whereas a regular desktop drive has a timeout factor as well but it is longer than the RAID timeout factor, and if the RAID timeout factor is exceeded, a drive can drop out of the array.
If you're just going to use a single drive, the 640 GB Black would be a great start, if RAID however, then get two of the RE3 or RE4 certified drives. WD may not provide support for a drive used in a RAID array that is not RE certified.
FWIW...I have two 37 GB Raptor drives that I've been using in a RAID 0 for over 4 years and I've never had a drive drop out of the array, but my system isn't on 24/7 or used every single day of the week, either.
There's plenty of RAID information available out there...google it.
I'm presently running XP on a three year old W.D. Blue, 500GB, 16MB Cache. I recently installed a Seagate, FreeAgent | Xtreme, 500GB, eSata, for backup and extra storage. When I aquire Windows 7 I will be installing it on a new hard drive. I would like to install it on a new SSD, but I'm afraid I will not be able to afford one for a year or two.
I really do not need a lot more storage space, so 500GB should suffice. I'm strongly for a single platter hard drive, the less stuff to wear out the better. I just went to W.D.'s site to see if their 640GB Black is a dual platter design and I could not find any information. I also went to Tom's '2009 3.5" Desktop Hard Drive Charts' for more info:
According to the charts the hottest 500GB hard drive going is the Spinpoint F3. Another contender would also be the Seagate Barracuda 7200.12, 750GB, 32MB Cache, but is this hard drive also a dual platter? Unfortunatly the charts do not include the 500GB or 640GB W.D. Black's...why's that?
The F3 has been on the market for two months and has 16MB Cache and the 500GB Black has been on the market for a year and has 32MB Cache. Which one might be the best for gaming?