Holiday Storage Guide

by Gary Key on December 19, 2008 12:00 PM EST

Mid-Range Performance Drives-

Once again we will turn to Western Digital for their impressive Caviar Black (WD1001FALS) 1TB drive that features excellent performance along with very good acoustics and power consumption in this market sector. This $129 drive also features a 32MB cache, 334GB platters, and five year warranty. For those users wanting a very low power consumption drive, excellent acoustics, and solid performance, we highly suggest the WD Caviar Green 1TB drive (WD10EADS). This update to the GP series now features 32MB cache, 334GB platter sizes, idle power consumption around 2.8W with a load power rating at 5.5W in our testing. It is also quiet with a 23.6dBA rating.

Our other choice (maybe primary shortly) is the new Seagate Barracuda 7200.11 (ST31000333AS) 1TB drive featuring the same 375GB per-platter technology from their up market 1.5TB drive. This $110 drive has been every bit the equal of the WD Caviar Black in early application and thermal/acoustic testing. It has already impressed us enough for a very strong recommendation.

We have been bitten by a couple of failures in the labs with the Samsung SpinPoint T and F1 series of drives, but we still have several running perfectly fine. It could be bad luck or just luck of the draw. If that is the case, we still think the Samsung SpinPoint F1 (HD753LJ) 750GB drive at $75 is very good deal for a top performing drive.

High-Performance Desktop Drives-

There really is only once choice here in the HDD desktop market. That being the WD VelociRaptor 300GB (WD3000GLFS) drive featuring 10K RPM platters, 32MB Cache, incredible performance, and very good acoustics and thermals for a drive in this category. Without moving to high end SSD or SAS drives, this is the drive to have on the desktop if performance is paramount and storage capacities be dammed.

Optical Storage –

The optical storage market has consolidated greatly in the last year with top-tier suppliers like Plextor and BenQ basically opting out of the market and other manufacturers merging together. The SATA interface has finally replaced the IDE interface on the desktop. Features that we have always considered important like bitsetting, overburn, disc scanning, fast reads, and high-quality writing tend to be worse now than they were a couple of years ago. We guess price and marketing features have overtaken performance and quality in some regards now. That said, there are some decent drives available and we basically have narrowed our choices down to a couple that will suffice for most users and a Blu-ray playback unit.

DVD Writers

Our two choices are both 22x SATA units that feature street prices around $25. We like the Samsung SH-S223F and LG GH22NS30 drives for general desktop usage. Both offer very good compatibility with a wide range of discs and above average performance across the board. We just received the Sony NEC Optiarc AD-7220S drive and in the first round of testing, it appears to be a good drive and would certainly deserve a look before purchasing either one of the other drives. We still favor the Pioneer DVR-116DBK considering its $22 price tag and overall performance.

Blu-ray Playback Drive

If you are building an HTPC then we highly suggest the $99~$119 LG GGC-H20LK drive for playback duties and general DVD burning activities. If you are looking for a good Blu-ray burner, we once again turn to LG for their GGW-H20LK unit. Sony just introduced their BWU-300S Blu-ray burning with the capability to write at up to 8x speeds on certain BD-R DL discs. The drive currently goes for about $399.



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  • MTDEW - Tuesday, December 23, 2008 - link


    There really is only once choice here in the HDD desktop market. That being the WD VelociRaptor 300GB (WD3000GLFS) drive featuring 10K RPM platters, 32MB Cache, incredible performance, and very good acoustics and thermals for a drive in this category. Without moving to high end SSD or SAS drives, this is the drive to have on the desktop if performance is paramount and storage capacities be dammed.

    The WD VelociRaptor 300GB (WD3000GLFS) only has 16mb cache, not the 32mb listed.
    I just purchased one, and to be honest, I think it wasnt worth the extra $$$ over what i paid for my WD Caviar SE16 WD6400AAKS 640GB 7200 RPM 16MB.

    Going from a WD6400AAKS to the WD300GLFS just wasnt that big of an improvement to me speedwise as an OS drive.
    Sure, the Velociraptor is faster, but not by much, and CERTAINLY not buy as much as the price difference.
    So i would assume that makes the WD Black series excellent buys for the money!!(since thay are faster than my WD6400AAKS)

    Its gonna be at least until 20010 i think until SSDs are low priced AND with large storage, so in the meantime we're getting great deals on Mechanical hard drives.
  • MTDEW - Tuesday, December 23, 2008 - link edit button for my many typing/spelling errors...LOL
    I figure large capicity SSDs wont be really cost effective until 2010.
  • v12v12 - Wednesday, January 7, 2009 - link

    Agreed on that EDIT BUTTON FUNCTION: and the outrageous price for Raptors Vs the actual performance percentage increase = like getting 7200rpm for $100 or a 5400 for $60... with minor avg speed increases of a whopping 5-10% for over $40 the cost and lack of storage space... Yes I'm running raptors, but they are older and much much cheaper. It's snappy and bursts are fabulous... BUT not for 30-50% cost increase.

    SSD's will continue to be flawed until the market demands them and prices drop waaaay lower... aka Dell, HP and the other pre-built systems start including them as a near cost effective option. Mechanical drives are just STONE AGE, but the technological-metering market still prevails so long as people keep buying at sky high prices. The LESS you buy these things, the lower they'll HAVE to drop the price or Fsking go out of business. Yes that's opposite to teachings, but notice the "go out of business." A few spoiled/baller-IT jocks purchasing these high priced SSD units = is NOT what's driving the price down. Lmao, it's all part of the metering.

    Look at all of the other 1st gen released hardware examples... $600 1x CDR burners in 1997? You think a few rich boys purchasing these things actually drove the price down b/c they profited from them? Lmfao NOPE! It was HUGE contracts from pre-built corps that drive costs down. STOP BUY THEM in 1st-gen phase: All you're really doing is BETA-TESTING for the manufacturers.
  • kjeldsen - Monday, December 22, 2008 - link

    I hope to jump in to get my 5 cents on the table.

    Seagate have really screwed up on the 1.5TB issues, they closed down threads on their forums and is only issueing firmware updates after you contact their support, and apparently those updates doesnt really solve the problem. The feeling i got after browsing through some of the threads is that they hope this will go away if they ignore it.

    Out of the 4 drives i have encountered 2 had these issues.

    Unless they change their direction 180 degrees and do something extraordinary i will stop purshasing their drives. And i think it´s a shame that sites like anandtech isn´t on the ball on these cases.
  • Visual - Monday, December 22, 2008 - link

    I would really love to see a new SSD article.

    Recently OCZ launched a new "Solid Series" that is supposed to go a bit below the "Core Series" V2 in both performance and price. For some reason they are being marketed as only laptop drives, and only for laptops made after 2007... why is that? I am really curious about the differences between Solid and Core V2, as well as how they compare to the newest OCZ Vertex series, and the Intel MLC drives too.

    Also you need to explore the stuttering issues in XP and Vista in more detail. Your last article on the subject blamed it all on the JMicron controller, but I don't think things are as clear-cut.
    Apparently the main reason for the problems is the low write cache on the drives, and there are similar problems with other SSDs that don't use JMicron controllers, including Intel ones. On drives with more cache, the problem happens more rarely, but it still can happen.
    The problem seemingly disappears with a hardware RAID controller that has cache of its own, maybe you can give a recommendation for a cheap one that does the trick? And it would be interesting to test if even with a huge cache the drives can eventually be pushed hard enough with a special stress test to cause the problem to present itself.
    Also on some forums I've seen people claiming to have no problems with even on-board controllers, by just enabling RAID mode, even with a single drive... could there be truth in this?
    OCZ themselves in some support forums have posted that the problem is limited to certain Intel chipsets, does that mean AMD systems are unaffected?
    Lastly, I wonder if any such problems can be seen in Linux.
  • Griswold - Sunday, December 21, 2008 - link

    My 500GB WD Green isnt really that much more silent than either of my two 640GB WD Blues. It also doesnt run that much cooler and the power saving advantage isnt enough to warrant the performance difference - unless its intended as a pure data storage (yes, HTPC movie storage comes to mind). And the Black drives arent fast enough to warrant the premium over the Blues - the only thing they got going for them in my opinion is the extended warranty. But it remains to be seen for how much longer WD will keep that up since Seagate dropped that 5 year warranty from all their desktop parts recently...

    With that said, I think the WD Blue is the thing to get. Best of both worlds.
  • c128 - Sunday, December 21, 2008 - link

    Just for the record -- 5 out of 6 Seagates 7200.11 died on me in the last 12 months, SD04 and SD15 firmware. The replacements from Seagate died as well, so I stopped RMA-ing them after I spent over $100 on mailing them back to their TX warranty facility. Issues include: bad sectors, failure to post, freezing during writing, erratic loud high-pitched noise and clicking sounds. I switched to WD Black Editions, and am very impressed by their reliability and performance, especially under AHCI. Some of my customers in accounting noticed dramatic performance improvement after upgrading to WD Black Edtion over AHCI -- their Tax Software and PDF Forms run much faster now. You can buy Seagate only if you like wild adventures and are prepared to lose all your data. Reply
  • CrystalBay - Saturday, December 20, 2008 - link

    JFTR, Just for the record, I have a 1TB 7200.11 pushing 15 months and 7000 hours... Reply
  • InSearchOf - Saturday, December 20, 2008 - link

    ive been going back and forth debating whether i should get a 640GB or a 1TB Hard drive. WD Caviar Black series has received alot of positive feedback from users. one caveat is that some have complained that it is pretty loud and runs somewhat hot. By having less platters (2 instead of 3) would a 640GB drive be quieter and run cooler than a 1TB (3 platters) hard drive?

    is money the deciding factor why some people go with smaller capacity drives or does reliability come into play too?
  • cyriene - Saturday, December 20, 2008 - link

    I make sure a drive has a good track record of reliability before I buy one. Price matters too, but most drives are competitively priced. Reply

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