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How to choose an internal HD

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June 15, 2010 11:31:54 PM

I'm looking to replace my HD in my computer, and am wondering what to look for as far as speed goes. is speed in the rpm, or cache, or what? How does drive size play in? Does having 1tera vs. 500g make a difference in speed?

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a b G Storage
June 16, 2010 6:12:15 AM

You won't notice much difference in speed between the avarage drive at 7200 rpm and cache sizes anything from 8meg to 64 unless you're copying/moving large amounts of data. More cache is better at the same speed.
If you want fast but more expensive, there's the WD Raptor 10,000 rpm or the even more expensive new SSD drives, but I don't know if these work on anything less then Windows 7.
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June 16, 2010 10:28:33 AM

Western Digital 1.0 terabyte Black edition with 64Mb cache is a good choice... If you want space, speed, quiet, cold and good performance..
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a b G Storage
June 16, 2010 1:09:09 PM

Look for drives with 500GB per platter; higher data density translates to higher speed. The Seagate 7200.12 and Samsung Spinpoint F3 are good choices.
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a c 168 G Storage
June 17, 2010 12:20:40 AM

mtallen88 said:
I'm looking to replace my HD in my computer, and am wondering what to look for as far as speed goes. is speed in the rpm, or cache, or what? How does drive size play in? Does having 1tera vs. 500g make a difference in speed?

The rpm of a drive mostly determines the access time. Access time is composed of positioning the access arm(seek), and time waiting for the requested data to arrive under the read/write heads. A 7200rpm drive spins faster than a 5400 rpm drive, and so the time to wait for the data to arrive under the read/write heads(rotational delay) is less. A 10k drive spins faster, so the rotational delay is even less.

Data transfer rate is the product of the density of the platter times the rotation rate. Denser platters transfer data faster. A complicating issue is where the data is placed. The outer tracks have a larger circumference and can hold more data than the inner. Since the rpm is the same, outer track data transfers faster. Larger drives will have denser platters, and more data can be held in the outer tracks, giving them a bit of a performance edge.

Cache buffers data transfers and can hold frequently used data. Unfortunately cache is expensive and is not large enough to make much difference in performance. An exception might be the newly announced Seagate momentus XT hybrid drive. It includes a 4gb MLC flash cache that seems to be very effective.

You will not notice much difference in everyday performance among all the 7200 rpm drives. Even 10k and 15k drives will not be noticeably faster.

For the best speed, a SSD is best, but they are pricey. A decent solution is to use a SSD for the OS and frequently used data, and a larger, cheaper drive for storage.
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June 17, 2010 1:24:13 AM

Contrary to a lot of opinions, the 10k raptor drives don't deliver the performance increase they promise, mostly all they do is make a lot of noise and heat. They run not much [if any] better than a Western Digital Black. If you want a fast and reliable drive, look no further than a WD Black.
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