I’m almost finished choosing components for my new gaming rig (Barton 2500+, Abit NF7-S, Radeon 9800np) and must now choose a hard drive. The qualities I’m looking for are compatibility in regards to my setup (thus stability and long-term security) and speed in regards to gaming. I know that the HD isn’t a huge player in this (few mere gamers buy SCSIs), but with the new 10,000 RPM Serial ATA drives, the choices seem to be very complex. I’m not sure if I should even consider one of these new drives, but if it means substantial performance gains in gaming or higher stability, I will definitely do so.
In other areas, I know that I want an 8mb (or more, maybe) cache and at least 40gb of space (I will increase space based on price/upgrade ratio). I don’t want my computer to sound like a lawnmower, but a little noise is find if its worth it. I don’t have a specific spending range. Finally, I’m not going to deal with raid; one hard drive is all I’ll have – easy installation would be nice. As for specific brands, I’ve read good things about everyone from Maxtor to Seagate to WD.
Well, I most likely only need 7200rpm and 8mb cache. This computer will be used primarily for gaming; stability, reliability in the long term, and ease of installation are most important. Noise level is worth considering too -- it's actually rapidly becoming my top consideration, since it seems that Seagate, Maxtor, and WD are basically tied in terms of performance and stability. Here's something interesting I read at Anandtech:
"I've never had any issues with Maxtors that was not attributed to stress from an overclocked FSB. I have had to RMA quite a few WD's at work though, but these seem isolated to their 2mb cache 40g model.
I also happen to be in a unique position where I actually own the 80g 7200rpm version of Maxtor's, WD's and Seagate's 8mb cache HDDs (the Seagates are $59.95 after rebates at CompUSA this week).
As far as I can tell, here are the most noticable differences:
Most quiet = Seagate, by a hair. Maxtor is right behind it. WD is dead last, but bear in mind, it's still a fairly quiet HDD.
Performance = Using HDTach and Sisoft under WinXP, the Maxtor is markedly faster than either WD or Seagate. Between Seagate and WD, performance is roughly equal. I think these benchmarks utilities may tend to favor the Maxtors more so then the other brands since the Maxtors are the only ones that are ATA133 compliant. Unfortunately, I don't have any comparitive benchmarks here at work right now. During actual use though, there was no noticable difference between any of them.
Fit and construction = Although not a very good barometer for measuring durability, it's better than nothing as a sloppily built HDD generally means the overall Q/A may not be as good. Here, the Seagate is head and shoulders above either Maxtor or WD. Some of the stories I've heard about Seagate's excellent quality definitely shows. The tolerances, fit of parts, precision of build, and just flat out polish that goes into the contruction of the Seagate is just incredible when compared side by side with the other brands. It's like looking at a swiss-made watch and comparing it with a $20 supermarket CASIO. I especially like the precision fitted, protective plate mounted on the underbelly of the HDD to protect the HDD PCB and to keep foreign debris out. I guess you really do get what you pay for.
Heat = couldn't really tell the difference between any of them. All run warm, but not hot."
Sounds like your experience mirrors mine. I used to be a Seagate man (20gb 7200 rpm 2mb cache), but I have since switched over to the Western Digital JB drives for the performance. I still find myself longing for a new Seagate with 8mb cache. Like you said, there's something impressive about the way they are built. I never feared for my data as long as I had the Seagates. I catch myself looking over my shoulder once in awhile with the WD drives. Kind of the Mercedes-Benz kind of thing, there are better performance cars out there, but it sure is nice to have one. The 3 year warranty on the WD is nice, though. Seagate has great RMA service I might add. Had one once that wouldn't come out of PIO mode. Shipped it off (from Idaho) and had a new one back (from Austin, Texas) in 8 days, no questions asked. Depends on how much noise & security matter vs. performance, I guess.