Whats the best, cheapest, and fastest HDD I can get with a storage capacity of 500 GB and up? Hopefully, Nothing more than $100, preferably around $50-$70. Something that will also be good enough for me to turn into a raid 5 later in the future... (by buying more...)
SEAGATE 7200.12 500gb HDD 16mb is the best value IMO (55$).
Just make sure that it is "7200.12" and is "500gb". New 7200.12 500gb seagates have one 500gb platter with high data density which improves performance.
you can look at Samsung Spinpoint f3 500gb 7200rpm too, but they are hard to find and a little expensive. Western Digital Caviar Black 640gb and Western Digital Caviar Blue 640gb are also good, but a little slower and a little bit more expensive than aforementioned drives.
Don't usually respond to stuff I'm not researching anymore, but have had a lot of experience lately on the SEAGATE 7200.12 500gb drives. They are the fastest single platter drive available atm (sata 2), but quality control is terrible! I have purchased more than 30 of these drives in the past two months to accumulate 6 good, fast drives for a raid 0 array. Extremely picky, yes I know. Here are the pitfalls- first and foremost make sure you get firmware cc38 (located on drives label, so you have to open box). These were consistently better than the previous cc37 fw. More consistent in performance testing, and about 5-15 mb's faster reads and 5-10 mb's for writes. Doesnt sound like much but when you figure x times multiple drives it is substantial. Also the biggest problem was the spread between the best and worst drives, in other words the averages, sometimes in the range of 20-30 mb's with the worst having huge peaks and valleys during testing. WD Blacks were a bit slower, but very consistent. Also had some of the drives doa and also a few clicking as well. Ended up with the best of the bunch, but had to go back and forth with returns/exchanges to get them. Highly recommend Best Buy or micro Center and to utilize price matching ($59 at Micro Center right now). If speed or raid is not the biggest concern, I would go with WD Blacks since I will be sweating and backing up all data for the next few months until I purchase an Adaptec 5805 Raid card to eventually end up with an 8 drive raid 10. Even then I will always wonder if the seemingly good drives I chose to keep will start clicking or die on me. Not to say a WD Black couldnt do the same, but out of the 6 I tested all were almost identical in sound and performance. BTW - used Atto, HD Tune, Si Soft Sandra, and a few others as well for testing speeds. Hope this helps you to avoid some of the trial and error I went through. Good Luck, Greg