A question about hard drives.

I rebuilt most of my system last year, new MB, CPU and RAM, carrying over a lot of other hardware, including my trusty old Samsung 300 GB drives.

The way I am currently set up is that I have one drive partitioned with my system partition and a second program partition, the second drive is a general storage dump. Now, unsurprisingly, my program partition (201 GB) is nearly full so I'm looking at a new drive.

I am considering some pretty well priced drives, but they are 'eco' drives. Western Digital Caviar Greens, or alternately Samsun Eco Green drives.

Now I know these use features to make them more power efficient, but will I see a performance compromise going from these drives from my old drives? Or are the newer ones likely to be better? Or will it make little difference? My drives are the weak link in the Windows Performance Index, I realise that's not a great benchmark, but a handy indicator.

I have 4 gigs of RAM, so I'm not sure how much Windows 7 benefits from using that to cache.

Not knowing what model drives you're currently using, I can't say how the performance will compare. I can say, though, that I was running my OS off a Caviar Green until this last weekend, and if you are trying to eek every bit of performance out of your system, step up to a Caviar Black. I just got a 640GB Black for $60 after a $10 off coupon on Newegg, so I'm sure you can find a decent deal on one as well.

Caviar Greens are nice for a little energy efficiency, but that's at the cost of slower spinning, slowing to idle more often, etc-- that all amounts to a slower loading drive. You can set it to never idle, but I still felt like my computer was hindered by the drive speed. Granted, now that I have my Black up and running, I've yet to try Batman: Arkham Asylum or F12010 as I'm afraid I'll have to start them both over (had some issues with HD cloning, had to reformat)-- so maybe I won't notice a huge difference. I can say that Windows 7 starts up much faster for sure, though.

Anyway, those Green drives are sturdy, but really meant as backup/document drives.

The green drives run at slower speeds, 5400RPM versus the more common 7200RPM. I currently have a 7200 as my main OS/programs/games drive, and a 5400 for bulk storage, for some things I definitely notice it being slower.

Agreed. The 5400 RPM drives are fine in my case for stuff like recorded TV in media center or mass storage in my Windows Home Server. In those situations they are fast enough to get the job done (including recording and playing back more than 4 simultaneous HD TV streams). They're lower power and generally quieter, which is great in an HTPC. However, I wouldn't want one as an OS drive on a PC I use day in and day out.

You might not need the top of the line drives. A modern "Blue" WD might still give you enough of a bump in performance over your current drives that you'll notice it. But I would definitely go with a 7200 RPM drive.

My main system drive really could use an upgrade. I've been watching the hybrid Seagate drives that have about 4GB's of SSD used as a buffer packed with a 500GB 2.5" HD as a fast but still reasonably priced and sized boot drive. However, those have had some firmware issues that I'm a bit scared of, so I'm taking a wait and see stance.

If you can't afford an SSD, stick with a 7200RPM drive of some kind. The Caviar Blacks bench very well. You'll notice a very, very substantial performance improvement over 5400 -- the drives spin faster, meaning the correct data arrives under the head sooner, and they typically have more muscular seek mechanisms, meaning the heads move to the correct tracks faster.

If you had lots of RAM, you could probably get away with a 5400 -- I use one as my data drive, and I hardly notice how slow it is most of the time. But with 4 gigs, most of the RAM will be committed to Windows and program use, and you'll notice the underlying speed of the drive a lot more.

You can get good terabyte drives for like $90 these days, so it's not a ton of money. I'd suggest getting two, if you can swing it. Use one as your main data drive, and use the other as a backup. Win7 has a nice built-in backup utility that will manage the space for you and everything.

Thanks guys, I figured as much. One other question. A quick Google suggests that a SATA III drive will work fine on a MB that only supports SATA II, is this right?

Yes.

Yeah, you're fine. SATA3 on spinning hard drives is mostly silly, anyway. They can't even keep SATA2 saturated.

SSDs can, but those cost a *lot* more.

Thanks again guys. SSDs are way out of the price range at the moment.

Local online retailers seem to be short of stock of non-'green' drives. Caviar Blacks are available, but at twice the price. Guess I will wait a while and see what appears.

Any 7200 should be okay. The Blacks are faster, but they're certainly not worth twice the price.

MannishBoy wrote:

My main system drive really could use an upgrade. I've been watching the hybrid Seagate drives that have about 4GB's of SSD used as a buffer packed with a 500GB 2.5" HD as a fast but still reasonably priced and sized boot drive. However, those have had some firmware issues that I'm a bit scared of, so I'm taking a wait and see stance.

My buddy just picked up one of these for his laptop and at first he didn't notice a difference. But over time Win 7 started to boot faster and whatever programs he used on a regular basis also started to boot faster since they were being stored or some of the files were being stored in the SSD side of the drive instead of the regular platters. But as you said with the firmware issue and them being still new tech, it is cool on one hand to have a hybrid drive but I would wait a little bit for those still.

I thought the WD Green were also 7200rpm, but at least the ones I looked at have the capability to go from 5400 to 7200 if needed.

MrDeVil909 what price range:HDD space are you looking at. I have seen some reasonably priced blacks 750Gb for 69.99 and a 1Tb black for 87.99 Link here.

Looking at a 1 TB drive, unfortunately Newegg doesn't ship here, and for some reason Amazon doesn't like the idea of sending me a HD either.

I have found a 1 TB Caviar Blue at a seller I don't usually buy from, so I'm considering it. How are the Seagate 7200.12 drives? I heard they took a major quality dip.

I'm also considering just getting one of the Samsung green drives, moving all my backups and nonsense off my storage drive and onto that, then repurposing the 300gig storage drive to my program drive, it will give me another 70 gigs or so to play with for games and a ton of backup space.