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WD just released the first 2 TB drive and others will follow soon. Yet, despite continually falling prices, the majority of users do not need such high-capacity drives and they have no reason to spend extra money today on space they may or may not use tomorrow. Hard drive vendors confirm that the 3.5” desktop hard drive mainstream segment still ranges between 320 GB and 500 GB, so that’s where we focused this review.
Can 500 GB Be Enough?
Enthusiasts will probably shake their heads now, but what would happen to your PC storage requirements if you removed capacity hogs like video and music archives? All of a sudden, a 500 GB hard drive seems quite sufficient to install Windows, plenty of applications, and some games, while still leaving enough space for your personal files such as photos, documents, and work data.
The storage requirements of average users are still below 500 GB, as you can easily tell by the capacities available in mainstream notebooks. Current 2.5” hard drives come at capacities ranging from 160 GB to 320 GB, and people typically get along just fine with this.
The Relocation Of Storage
With that said, our overall demands for storage are increasing, regardless of the specific requirements for PC applications, but the demands are being addressed by other devices. More and more digital TV boxes come with integrated Personal Video Recorder (PVR) functionality to allow scheduled recordings or time shifting based on storing video on hard drives. Gaming consoles such as the Sony Playstation 3 and Microsoft’s Xbox 360 use hard drives. Multimedia data will increasingly be stored off the PC, be it on media servers or NAS devices—they all need hard drives as well. As a consequence, the PC isn’t necessarily the center of our digital lives anymore, and also no longer the only place where the hard drive matters.
Cost Is The Limit
Cost has always been the main limiter for hard drive selection, as users are capable of restraining their storage demands if budget forces them to do so. We decided to look at the current mainstream of the 3.5” hard drive market, which allows you to get 500 GB hard drives for below $60. The cost is great, but which mainstream drive is the best?