Buying Guides -> Hardware -> Storage
Best Picks: Hard drives
Team CHIP | 31 October 2008
The movies and music files we accumulate take up more storage space than we ever imagined possible. CHIP identifies the best hard drives to safely store your ever-expanding digital life.
Mainly aimed towards gaming and high-end laptops, this high performance hard drive has the best transfer rates in its category. Features such as 7200 rpm spindle speeds and a 16 MB buffer onboard the Scorpio Black gives it a performance boost and hence it won the Best Performance award in the 2.5-inch hard drive category. The drive offers a good blend of speed and capacity, sufficient enough for the space hogging OSes. It incorporates additional features such as ‘IntelliSeek’ and SecurePark’. ‘IntelliSeek’ calculates optimum seek speeds and reduces power consumption, while ‘SecurePark’ utilizes lesser power by parking the heads during idle mode, thus increasing its reliability. The drive also features ‘WhisperDrive’ which makes it very quiet during operations and ideal for notebooks and other portable devices. The Scorpio Black performs promptly with excellent read/write speeds making this hard drive ideal for those seeking a high-speed hard drive upgrade their laptop’s or external storage.
For: Speedy data transfer speeds, low noise emission.
With decent performance and a cheap price tag, this Seagate 250 GB hard drive bagged the Best Value award in the 2.5-inch category. The drive has a spindle rotation speed of 2500 rpm and an 8 MB buffer, which is most common for hard drives of this form factor. The drive is built with two platters of 125 GB each and uses the PMR (Perpendicular Magnetic Recording) technology along with NCQ (Native Command Queuing) which increases the reliability and speed of the hard drive.
The Seagate ST9250827AS - 250 GB hard drive has a very low cost-per-GB of around Rs 12 per GB, which is ideal for those looking for upgrading their SATA based laptops or external storage drives. It is also a good option for those planning to build a compact and slim-line media center PC as it offers an adequate size, storage capacity, performance, lower noise levels and low power consumption. The manufacturer also offers a 5 year warranty for the hard drive, just in case anything should go wrong.
For: Better than average performance, low cost-per-GB.
If you have the money to shell out for a top-notch hard drive, then the Western Digital VelociRaptor is the drive to look out for. With a spindle speed of 10000 rpm and an average seek time of 4 ms, this drive is blazing fast. The drive is actually a 2.5-inch drive mounted on a 3.5-inch frame which is actually heat sink that helps cool this beast. Its closest rival was the RE3 which not only performed almost at par but also boasts of a massive 1 terabyte of storage space and comes with a buffer of 32 MB and costs less.
The drive makes use of Western Digital’s Rotary Acceleration Feed Forward technology also known as RAFF which offers superior vibration tolerance when installed in vibration-prone systems such as file servers. The VelociRaptor also employs the NoTouch ramp load technology which ensures less wear and tear by parking the head securely. With its superior read/write speeds of 105/117 MB/sec respectively this drive is best suited for workstations, servers and professionals who work in audio and video editing.
For: Blazingly fast read/write speeds, good cooling.
Against: Insanely expensive.
With the ever growing demand for storage space and fall in price per GB, the 320 GB Seagate Barracuda 7200.11 easily bagged the best value award category. The drive features a single platter design and offers decent performance because of high area density by means of perpendicular recording technology. The closest competitor to this drive was its 500 GB counterpart featuring a 32 MB buffer. It could have easily won the Best Value award but it couldn’t measure up to the performance of its younger sibling.
Like most desktop hard drives this one too spins its platters at a rotational speed of 7200 rpm and with 16 MB buffer. With a read and write performance of 100/111 MB/sec respectively the Barracuda 7200.11 is almost at par with the VelociRaptor that won the Best Performance award. For those who are running out of space or planning to add an extra drive should consider this 320 GB hard drive from the Barracuda 7200.11 family, it won’t disappoint you.
For: Great value for money, good read/write speeds.
The choice of the hard drive capacity depends on what you are going to store on it. If your storage needs don’t exceed beyond office documents, images and a couple of music albums and movies, there’s no point picking a drive larger than 320 GB. No doubt 500 GB is the sweetest spot for buying a hard drive, but you won’t be utilizing the space effectively. A high-capacity hard drive is ideal if you’re a gamer or a BitTorrent freak who can pack a terabyte hard drive to the gills in no time. Instead of buying a high-capacity hard drive it’s wiser to opt for two lower capacity hard drives amounting to the same capacity if you’re getting them for a lower price, unless you want a single drive.
- Anand Tuliani
Opting for storage drives with higher capacities is a high priority for people, who want for their desktop computer. Downloading music, movies and software are basic uses of a computer today and storing them is critical as internet speeds are faster and also getting cheaper and downloads are getting bigger. Hence a slower 1 TB hard drive is opted for more often than faster performing ones as capacity is important. I would recommend buying two 500 GB hard drives and setting them in RAID rather than one single 1 TB drive to get more cost-effective storage space. If performance and price is an important factor, going in for a two basic 500 GB hard drives and clubbing them in RAID would make more sense than buying a 320 GB high performance drive. This is so because the speed would almost match the performance of the latter and the capacity would also be higher.
- Francis D’sa