The Spring Hard Drive Guide

Hitachi Deskstar T7K500 - 500 GB UltraATA

We included this hard drive because of its UltraATA interface, which is attractive for users whose computers don't have Serial ATA ports for hard drives, for consumer electronics devices such as PVRs or set-top boxes or for certain hard drive enclosures. Although more and more products are designed for SATA, UltraATA still can be found everywhere. The T7K500 is available at 500 GB, 400 GB, 320 GB and 250 GB, but we recommend not to go below 320 GB unless your budget forces you to.

While the Serial ATA versions of this drive have 16 MB cache, the UltraATA models come with only 8 MB. We recently analyzed the impact of 8 MB cache vs. 16 MB and found that it doesn't make much of a difference. Hitachi's Deskstar 7K1000 even carries 32 MB.

Be careful when buying this drive: There is the older Desktar 7K500, which is based on five platters, and there is the much faster T7K500 running on three platters. The latter provides considerably better performance and better thermal characteristics as well.