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Conclusion and Recommendations

Tom’s Winter 2008 Hard Drive Guide
By

In an effort to find the best hard drive for the money, we included a dozen different hard drives in this roundup. Most of them were already reviewed in other articles, but we found it important to create some charts to compare all feasible options. We intentionally did not consider flash SSDs in this roundup, as most of those products just don’t provide sufficient storage capacity or simply are still too expensive for most users.

Low Power / HTPC Choices

The majority of the drives were 3.5” models spinning at 7,200 RPM, while there were three power-efficient drives by Samsung and Western Digital, which some people may want to consider for low-power solutions, media servers or home theater PCs. While the Samsung Eco Green drives are solid, we found a clear winner: WD’s Caviar Green (WD10EADS model) is by far the most efficient 3.5” terabyte hard drive available today. Be careful not to get the predecessor WD10EACS, as that one is rather lame compared to the latest model.

Mainstream / All-round Hard Drives

Mainstream users will have to decide if they want a versatile drive, which they can use as a system drive and to store a lot of data. If you’re looking for an all-rounder, we recommend going either for Hitachi’s Deskstar 7K1000.B (watch for the B!) at 1 TB, 750 GB or 640 GB, which offers balanced performance and efficiency. Western Digital’s Caviar Black or RAID Edition 3 (RE3) are the better application drives, as they deliver quicker access time and I/O performance.

Storage Mammoths

Samsung’s Spinpoint F and the Seagate Barracuda 7200.11 at up to 1.5 TB (be sure you get the latest drive revisions) are superior when it comes to sequential throughput. Particularly, the new 1.5 TB Seagate offers the fastest maximum transfer rates of all mechanical SATA hard drives, but both aren’t quick enough in our application benchmarks, and neither belong in the efficiency category. They may still be the best choice if you can get a good deal, given that you are looking to minimize cost per gigabyte in the first place.

Performance Options

If you want maximum hard drive performance there is no substitute for the Western Digital 2.5” VelociRaptor drive at 300 GB—it is the most expensive drive, but also the fastest desktop hard drive you can get. Thanks to its compact dimensions, it even has low power consumption, despite its 10,000 RPM spindle speed. However, if you’re ready to fork out the money for the VelociRaptor, you may want to compare it to some flash SSDs, which provide even more performance at the expense of storage capacity.

Check out our HDD Performance Charts for a performance comparison of most hard drive models.

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  • 0 Hide
    slomo4sho , November 24, 2008 7:19 AM
    Thanks for the write-up.
  • 0 Hide
    Tindytim , November 24, 2008 8:05 AM
    I would be interested in seeing how SSDs have effected Raptor sales.
  • 0 Hide
    radnor , November 24, 2008 9:02 AM
    I honestly think SSDs wont touch Velociraptor sales. The price tag is just too different. Even 300Gb is kinda short. Not to mention 64Gb.

    SSDs for now are only rich lappy owners. For the rest, there is SAS.
  • 0 Hide
    arkadi , November 24, 2008 10:45 AM
    with the new x58 out, it will be nice 2 see how sas drives will do
  • -1 Hide
    slomo4sho , November 24, 2008 11:10 AM
    There are 30gb OCZ SSDs on newegg for $80 each. Anyone wanting a faster drive for the OS would definitely consider the SSD over a Raptor.
  • 3 Hide
    DFGum , November 24, 2008 11:12 AM
    Slomo4shOThere are 30gb OCZ SSDs on newegg for $80 each. Anyone wanting a faster drive for the OS would definitely consider the SSD over a Raptor.

    Except there not faster.
  • 2 Hide
    zenmaster , November 24, 2008 11:12 AM
    Have you seen the OCZ horror stories?
  • 1 Hide
    antiacid , November 24, 2008 12:38 PM
    SSD doesn't equate to better performances than raptors. Watch out for that :) 

    thanks for the review, it's nice to see the Hitachi's getting updated to such fast drives.
  • 3 Hide
    neiroatopelcc , November 24, 2008 12:48 PM
    EcoGreen F1 @ -60C operational temperature? That may not be the most ideal enviroment to run a pc ? might want to add a zero in front :) 

    ps. no noise measurements?
  • 0 Hide
    Anonymous , November 24, 2008 1:05 PM
    yes, no noise measuring? That is a important as anything else for a HTPC?
  • -1 Hide
    malveaux , November 24, 2008 1:17 PM
    SSD's aSSD's, especially the MLC ones, are not effecting gaming machine sales (raptor). They're terrible for PC's right now that run Windows. They're better than their initial release. But they're still not something to overtake the markget for a while.
  • 6 Hide
    chikatana , November 24, 2008 4:27 PM
    The gallery thing is so user unfriendly. I hate it so much since its introduction. It takes much longer to load, and I have to switch between browser windows constantly to see all the images. Please go back to the old design and show all the images in a few pages directly. I don't want to keep switching!!!
  • -1 Hide
    Pei-chen , November 24, 2008 4:42 PM
    I am using two 1.5TB drive in RAID 0 under Vista x64 and it doesn't feel any faster than the two 320GB 7200.10 RAID 0 drives it replaced. The throughput for the 320GB is 70 MB/s or 140 MB/s on RAID 0; the 1.5TB should be noticeably faster but it isn’t.

    BTW, the maxima drive size windows can address is 2TB so my 2*1.5TB shows up as one 2TB + one 700GB drives.
  • -1 Hide
    Eggrenade , November 24, 2008 7:46 PM
    This is one of those articles that reminds me why I like Tom's so much: quantitative comparisons that are useful.
  • 0 Hide
    JonnyDough , November 24, 2008 8:55 PM
    Quote:
    Properly-designed flash-based solid state drives are not only faster than conventional drives, they can also require considerably less power


    LMAO! A couple of months ago Tom's had an article saying that the energy-saving of SSDs was a hoax. The title even had the word "hoax" in it. I called their bluff, and got down-rated in the comments on that article. Now, they're saying the exact opposite! How many times does Tom's say one thing to spark controversy and get website hits, and then say the exact opposite later on? This website is SO FULL OF CRAP.

    5...
    4...
    3...
    2...
    1. Post deleted like APPLE owns this site.
  • 1 Hide
    JonnyDough , November 24, 2008 9:03 PM
    SSDs ARE faster than HDDs, IF you have the right SSD. Furthermore, that is not the ONLY advantage to having an SSD. Heat, energy use, ability to handle more shock, and noise all contribute.

    XP and Vista is not correctly optimized for SSDs, but that doesn't mean that a high end SSD won't outperform hard drives on them.
  • 1 Hide
    doomsdaydave11 , November 24, 2008 9:33 PM
    DFGumExcept there not faster.

    Yeah those cheapo OCZ (etc) drives are incredibly slow. My next harddrive will be a 500GB Seagate 7200.11. That should last me at least 2 years, and then I'll go with maybe a 512GB SSD or something. Surely they'll have 512GB SSD's that provide at least 200MB/s read and 150MB/s write at a reasonable price in 2 years.... especially with all these memory prices dropping. Last year you could get 2x2GB of DDR2-800 for ~$200. Now, 2x2GB of DDR2-800 can be had for under $50, and even lower then that after rebates!
  • 0 Hide
    Anonymous , November 25, 2008 12:09 AM
    The WD Raptor 36GB and above can still be used within a raid-0 array. Heck thats what i'm using now, i was looking for SSD's but too much SSD's that have their issues and wont come down at least for 350€ for a decent Raid-0 set.

  • 0 Hide
    Anonymous , November 25, 2008 2:13 AM
    I checked Newegg and noticed that the following drives aren't readily available, yet Tom's is recommending them. What's up ?

    Hitachi 7K1000.B
    Seagate new 1TB
  • 0 Hide
    Codesmith , November 25, 2008 4:01 AM
    I look at not only the length of the warranty but the quality of the support. When my seagate failed I had to pay a total of $27 for advanced replacement. When my western digital failed advanced replacement was free and I only paid $7 for a optional prepaid return shipping label.

    Also I had to get to page idk 17 or 19 in the RMA process before I saw anything about an advance replacement fee.

    I am not saying I won't ever buy a seagate, just saying I lean heavily toward WD because of the way they handle replacements.

    I wish I new all the manufacturers policies on advance replacement fee's. But one's that charge don't advertise it so I am kinda in the dark.
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