First let me say that my tech. knowledge is limited, so correct me on something if I have the wrong idea.
I figure that within the next year or two, I might be finally sending my five year old PC off to pasture and replacing it with a relatively new system that I have yet to build. ****I primarily use my PC to game/ surf the net / school work / etc., I don't do any memory intensive apps like photoshop or things like that.**** While looking at possible storage options, I know I have three basic choices to choose from; 7200 RPM HDD's with 32 MB cache, 10,000 RPM HDD's, and SSD's. Unless SSD's go down in price, I probably will not be picking up one of those any time soon, which leaves me with the first two choices.
After looking through the "A guide to Hard Drive selection" article(http://www.tomshardware.com/reviews/understanding-hard-...), am I right to assume that choosing a 7200 RPM HDD with 32 MB of cache wouldn't give me a significant performance over a cheaper alternative, like one with 16 MB of cache?
Also from what I understand, the only addition I would get from having a raptor drive would be slightly quicker load times in games, but no actual performance increase, correct? If so, wouldn't a normal 7200 RPM drive be sufficient for games?
The amount of cache in the drive will make very little difference to your overall performance.
Whether or not a faster disk subsystem will make much difference in your games once they've loaded depends entirely on the game. If the game is able to get everything into RAM at startup time, then disk performance is probably irrelevant. But if the game loads new scenes or objects from the disk as it runs then a poorly performing disk subsystem could result in stutters or pauses.
If a game doesn't fit entirely in Ram, it will probably stutter no matter how fast your disk is - and differences between equally recent disks aren't that big neither.
Disk speed doesn't change Fps at all but changes load time. Life For Speed, version alpha 2, loads in 3s with an X25E, 6s with a 500GB 7200.12, same or worse with two of them in raid-0, and 12s with an older 7k160.