If you can't be arsed to read it all, question is in bold at the bottom..
So I've just bought myself a handy little docking station that can clone hard drives pretty quickly as perfect 1-1 copies, and this got me thinking about cloning my current 7200RPM drive to something a bit faster.
I was first thinking that I could clone my current hard drive (SATA 7200) onto say a SSD as this docking station says you can clone drives with different sizes and different speeds, assuming that the "destination" drive has room for whatever you're copying across. After looking about though, 500GB SSDs aren't exactly cheap.. and I'm not looking on spending thousands on a SATA or PCI-E SSD.
Next thought was a Hybrid drive.. you can snatch a 500GB hybrid drive for under £100, and then get SSD speeds on 4GB of your data, which is dynamically chosen by the drive depending on what you use the most (after several boots the hybrid drives boots faster and faster until it's around 80% of a true SSD for example). I'm not sure if this upgrade would be worth it though, and what performance increases I would get over-all as I have 400GB of data (programs files, games, windows etc) and 4GB of SSD memory would be spread so thin I'm not sure it would help anything but my boot times which are already pretty good.
Last thought was a 10k RPM raptor. These have always been costly, but compared to an SSD they still look nice as for £200 you can get 600GB.
So my question is.. Is there any drive that has a good £/GB ratio, but will have noticable performance increase over a WD Caviar Black 640GB?
I did read it all, so there. Does that make me an arse?
What "a good $/GB ratio" is (sorry, I'm over here in the US) depends on what you want and what your priorities are. If you have to scrape every cent, you will demand a lower ratio. If you are running an E-commerce site and making millions, you would probably accept a higher ratio to get more throughput and sell more widgets per hour.
1) SSDs really want to work with Windows 7. They get degraded when working with older OSes, although there are workarounds.
2) I like the Velociraptors myself; I have one running XP.
3) In almost all cases, you don't need a 500 GB SSD. If you set up your system so that one partition is dedicated to only the OS, and all your data (including My Documents) is on another partition that happens to be on another disk, the amount of space that you need on the SSD drops drastically. With the exception of huge throughput-hog applications like video editing, experience has shown (I get this from reading articles) that putting the OS on the SSD gives a huge boost.
So, my advice is as follows. If you are not running Windows 7, get a raptor. If 200 pounds is a lot for you, build a new OS on a smaller raptor and keep your data on the existing drive.
If you are running Windows 7, you can buy a smaller SSD and, again, split OS and data. My OS fits on a 40 GB partition! Quite a few people who do more stuff than I do make do with a 64 GB system SSD.
Note - I think that the cloning idea got you stuck in a channel of needing a new drive the same size as your old one. Splitting OS and data across drives is a more cash-efficient way to go.
I must admit I have thought about this before.. and as I would have a spare 640GB drive (if buying a new one) then I could keep that for data, and only have programs on the OS disk.
Issue is - I want a performance increase over my games (loading times.. I realise it probably wont help with FPS) but I have easily 100GB worth of games, maybe more, so a small SSD would only assist in boot time and applications which are both pretty good with my setup (see sig for spec).
Games are the only place I fall in loading times, but like I said.. take a LOT of my storage space.
It wouldn't help with your desire to use your existing drive as a backup (If I understood the OP correctly) but a RAID-0 would close to double your throughput, as read and write access is preformed in parallel to two separate drives. There are reliability concerns, and you still need a good backup method, more so than without RAID-0.
I have an oldskool raptor 74gb as a boot drive on an XP machine I built years ago, its loud, and that's a common complaint with the newer 10k drives as well. You didn't mention noise as a concern, but you may want to consider that as well.
Noise isn't a big concern in my 12-fan case, but thanks for that.
I did wonder about RAID-0, but I wouldn't be able to use my current OS and data would I? Would I not need to format everything?
Would RAID-0 give me a noticable performance gain in boot times, applications, games etc? I have a good back up system in place, where each time my computer turns off it scans for updated folders or new files and adds them to two external 500GB drives (simple batch file set to run on shutdown).
Can you have RAID-0 and then a third drive that mirrors all content, or do you need 4 drives and have RAID 1+0 ?
Some of the more exotic cards may be able to have a raid 1 of two volumes, one raid 0 and the other on a single drive, but its not a popular or elegant setup. Raid 10 (1+0) would be preferential, as you get the speed boost as well as redundancy, but it really needs four drives to operate at full efficiency and effectiveness. We're well beyond the $/gb for a single drive solution however. A RAID 10 will operate at the capacity of 4X (insert drive capacity) / 2 ie: for 500mb drives you'll have a 1tb partition. For ultimate performance of a raid array a hardware controller card based array will be faster, motherboard based setups use the CPU to process the array.
12 fans must sound like a small turbine spooling up when you hit the power!?
Back in the early Pentium days, a buddy of mine had a computer that became unstable when we played the original Duke Nukem. We figured that his video card was overheating, so we went to Radio Shack and bought a fan that would fit the rear grate of his case, blowing air on his card. It was a 120v AC fan, 3,600 rpm and only 80mm or so. Hit the power button put in ear plugs and game on!