The $500 Gaming Machine, 2007 Edition

HDD: 320 GB Barracuda 7200.10 By Seagate

The hard drive probably makes the smallest difference in our $500 Gaming Rig as long as it is a current-generation product. Seagate is close to launching its 7200.11 series, which we expect to perform clearly better. Yet, we consider the Barracuda 7200.10 from Seagate or a similar drive from Hitachi or Western Digital a reasonable choice, as most 320 GB models offer sufficient storage capacity for gamers, and they cost only approximately $65.

The ST3320820AS runs at a common 7,200 RPM spindle speed and is based on a two-platter design. Few platters are favorable, because they cause less friction; hence the drive runs slightly quieter and clearly cooler. The drive is available with 8 MB or with 16 MB cache memory. Don't bother about the 16 MB version, as the performance difference is negligible. A Serial ATA/300 interface connects the drive to your PC. Support for NCQ (Native Commend Queuing) is very much standard today.

You might want to consider 400 GB models as well, as the price difference usually isn't too large. We recommend our Interactive Hard Drive Charts, because they are a valuable resource to compare hard drive performance and the cost per gigabyte ratio, which you might find most important as long as top performance isn't imperative. If it is, use our price/performance index, which relates cost to performance.