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The Spring Hard Drive Guide

Best Buys

This category includes hard drives that we believe have an exceptional price/performance ratio. The following drives combine a 500 GB capacity and high performance.

Samsung Spinpoint T166 (HD501LJ) - 500 GB

Samsung's Spinpoint T166 currently is one of the cheapest 500 GB Serial ATA hard drives. It carries 16 MB cache, supports Native Command Queuing (NCQ) and offers exceptionally high transfer rates, beating the other 500 GB hard drives. Although this drive comes with a standard three-year warranty, it's important to mention that Samsung offers the same guarantee for all Spinpoint hard drives, whether they are sold via retail or OEM channels. The sweetest part, however, is the price tag: We found it for as little as $119.99.

Different than the Western Digital WD5000KS, the Spinpoint T166 utilizes only three instead of four platters to store the 500 GB (T166 refers to the per-platter capacity of approximately 166 GB), which results in less heat dissipation and slightly less noise as well.