HARD DRIVE SUPERTEST

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SupertestHARD DRIVESUPERTESTLike a bad hospital DJ, Adam Oxford spins the platters tosee which disks are a panacea and which try his patienceHow we tested…There are just a few key measurements weneed to take to judge a hard drive. First off isthe seek speed – how long it takes the drive tofind the data we’re after? For this we’ll useHDTach, as well as Drive Speed Test andMicrosoft’s own hard drive benchmark.To test drive flexibility, we’ll be timing acouple of transfers from one part of the disk toanother, and we’ll also be looking at the everamblingmap load times of Battlefield 2,patched to version 1.41.DESKSTART7K500DESKSTART7K1000(1TB)DESKSTART7K1000SPINPOINTT HD501LJBARRA-CUDAST3750-640AS90 October 2007PCF205.w_group_test 90 8/8/07 18:17:19


Hard drive supertestForgive us for the nextsentence, youll thinkweve gone all grumpy oldman. Dear gods, arenthard drives cheapnowadays? We rememberwhen a few megabytes ofbonus space would requirea trip to the local loan shark andpossibly a run in with the mob.“Godfather, please, I have served youwell and databased your hitlists, nowmy only daughter wants to install EliteII and Im out of disk space…”Today, were using spare drives toprop up the legs of a wobbly desk. If youshop around, you can pick up a 500GBdrive for less than £55 – thats only asliver more than 10p a gigabyte. Surely ahard drive is now the ultimatecommodity item – for that sort of pricewho cares about spin speeds, seektimes, cache size and transferbandwidths? Just grab a handful andkeep a few for regular backups. Thekingdom of hard drive heaven is here: letus all fill our rigs with many RAID arraysand rejoice.The thing is, outside of the CPU andgraphics card, your hard drive has thebiggest impact on system performanceof any component. And even if they costpennies by comparison to yesterday,well, you can still spend that moneywisely, cant you? For a start, half a“YOUR HARD DRIVE HASTHE GREATEST IMPACTON PC PERFORMANCEOF ANY COMPONENT”terabyte is rapidly becoming the pricesweetspot, when viewed from a penceper-gigangle, so two 500GB drives arealmost always cheaper than a single 1TBdisk. Even that decision isntstraightforward, though: are two drivesfaster than one? What about if you usesome sort of multi-disc RAID array?Throw RAID into the mix and a couple ofdirt cheap drives may be ableoutperform even the most impressivelyspecced performance product.So yes, its still worth giving care andconsideration to your next hard drive ordrives. And for that, we need to take acloser look at how they are built.The techThe silicon chip is a truly incredible markof human achievement. Millions of tinytransistor gates on a small slice of stuff,capable together of astronomicalnumbers of mathematical computationswhich, thanks to the incredibleintricacies of modern programmingtechniques, can be arranged as suchthey can create anything from aspreadsheet to a 3D world. Mindblowing.But once a chip has been laidout, thats it, isnt it?For me, though, the hard driveremains the most unbelievable feat ofengineering inside my PC. Shrinking thedie size of a logic gate is impressive, butonce its done, its done. In a hard drive,there are wafer thin disks which rotateat between 5,000 and 10,000revolutions per minute, which mustaccelerate from standstill to maximumspeed in a couple of milliseconds, andcome to a halt just as fast.As if that werent enough, there areup to five such independent disks perdrive, each generating forces andpressures that could flatten a building ifthey were scaledup accordingly.Then, on eitherside of eachplatter, theres amagnetic read/write head whichmoves across theradius of the discsurface, floatingon a cushion of air three thousand timesnarrower than the width of a human hair.If it were to veer off trajectory andtouch the platter surface while the drivespins, say as a result of the drive beingdropped, then all the data it stores couldbe lost. The head is guided by state-ofthe-artcontroller circuitry to fire itsintense electro-magnetic pulses attarget areas that are just 50nm inBARRA-CUDAST3500-630ACAVIARWD2500KSRAPTORWD360ADFDRAPTORWD1500ADFDCAVIARWD5000AAKSCAVIARWD7500AAKSCAVIARWD2500AAJS x2October 2007 91PCF205.w_group_test 91 8/8/07 18:17:24


diameter. And not only does it happenwith the kind of reliability a Formula Onedriver dreams of, but you can buy 200GBof disk for under £30. All that pinpointaccuracy inside a hard drive, yet youcant buy a decent gauge for measuringthe pressure in your cars tyres for less.Go figure.Hard drive technology really isawesome, in the truest sense of theword. Its not enough to simply grab ashiny disc of magnetic material and slapa read/write head on either side:platters today are constructed from thinglass or aluminium wafers and then havea layer of granular magnetic materialsprayed evenly over both surfaces.Traditionally, these grains have beenarranged longitudinally along the disc,so that the north-south axis of eachgrain lies parallel to the platter. To storeone bit of data requires around ahundred or so of these grains, which arearranged on the drive in blocks. Byshrinking the individual grains to amicroscopic 10nm or so, its beenpossible for hard drive manufacturers tostore 150 gigabits per square inch ofdisc platter – which translates to around133GB per 3.5inch platter.Overcoming obstaclesAs youll probably be aware, theres anew breed of drive which is rapidlybecoming the norm, with hugecapacities of up to 200GB per platterjust around the corner (todays drivescurrently peak at 166GB per platter).Instead of the north/south axis runningparallel to the surface of the disc, thegrains are stood on end, so that themagnetic poles are at right angles to thedisk. This gives it its name – one wevementioned frequently over the lastcouple of years – perpendicular storage.When lined up like this, many moregrains can be squeezed into ever smallerareas without running the risk ofsuperparamagnetism – a situationwhere densely packed magnetic grainscan flip polarity due to environmentaleffects and the fields of neighbouringbits. Obviously this leads to data lossand is A Bad Thing. The point at whichsuperparamagnetism occurs inSupertestAbove Perpendicularstorage isnt juststacking a load ofdrives on top of eachother, you know“THESE ARE STILL FIRST-GENERATION DRIVES,BUT HITACHI ALREADYHAS A 200GB-PER-PLATTER IN THE SHOPS”longitudinal designs is between 150-200GB per square inch – which meanstheres no where left to go for old-schooldata storage.Thanks to perpendicular designs,platter density can keep increasing andhard drives can continue to expand tomeet our thirst for drive space. Werestill in the first generation of drives, andalready Hitachi has a 200GB-per-platterDeskstar in the shops. The secondbonus is that, as a rule, the more data isstored on a platter, the faster a driveperforms – the reason being thatbecause information is packed soclosely together, the read/write headhas to move less in order to find thenext block of data in a sequence whenworking with large contiguous files. Orat least thats the idea in theory. As ourtests show, many of these drives falldown when it comes to grabbing smallerfiles that arent stored sequentially, anda large disk cache is essential tomaintain good performance.Ready? BoostThere are other ways to improve harddrive speed, of course. The mostcommon is to include a large butpotentially expensive buffer of up to32MB RAM. This can be used toprefetch data and also to queue up writeoperations, which are generally slowerand less imperative than reads, to beexecuted in an idle moment. As anextension of the hard drive cache,Samsung is the first manufacturer tohave released a hybrid magnetic/solidstate drive for laptops. This embryonictechnology combines several gigabytesof non-volatile, solid state Flashmemory with a traditional magnetichard drive. The Flash part of the drive isquicker and uses less power for smallerread/write operations, while alsofulfilling the role of a USB ReadyBoostdrive for fast Vista booting, while themagnetic drive is quicker at writinglarger files and provides a huge amountof storage relatively cheaply. The firstgeneration are designed for notebookuse, since they use less power than a100% magnetic drive. Within the nextcouple of years, hybrid drives willbecome the norm for desktops, too –although they only work with WindowsVista at present.Right now, though, theres no clearreason to put off upgrading your harddrive to one of the new breed of storageoptions – or more likely, replacing an oldworkhorse drive thats failed. I thinkweve made the point about how cheaphard drives are today pretty well: now allthat remains is to help you decide whichdrive represents the best value formoney, and which boast the kinds ofperformance its worth paying that littlebit extra for. ¤92 October 2007PCF205.w_group_test 92 8/8/07 18:17:28


HARD DRIVE SUPERTESTPRICE£71.45DESKSTAR T7K500A curiously underperforming beastManufacturer Hitachi Size 500GBWeb www.hitachigst.comYou can tell from the technicaldetails that this budget Deskstarshares much in common with itslarger, more capacious kinreviewed here. Theres the same166GB perpendicular platters andThe slowest drive ontest, with fewredeeming featuresPRICE£130the same SATA 3.0GB/sinterface for a start. Thentheres the similarity in theimpressive scores in many ofthe benchmarks – blistering fastburst speeds and swift internaltransfer speeds.What really baffles us, though,is the fact that all of this topnotch tech has been coupled witha measly 8MB cache. Its not likeit helps the Deskstar win anyvalue for money awards: you canget 500GB for less elsewhere.What it does mean, though, isthat in the real-life tests, theT7K500 was found more than alittle wanting – Battlefield 2 loadtimes are some 20% slower thanthe best drives on test here. Justgoes to show how muchdifference the cache makes.54DESKSTAR 7K1000Dont I know you from somewhere?PRICE£211.21DESKSTAR 7K1000(1TB)The lunchbox has landedManufacturer Hitachi Size 1TBWeb www.hitachigst.comDo you want to supersize yourhard drive? The day will comewhen this kind of storage is derigeur – after all, two years agothe cheapest drive on test costalmost this sort of money – butIts big, but buying itmay not be cleverPRICE£62.26now theres a few questionmarks over how much sense aterabyte drive makes.The first generation TBdrives arent benefiting fromthe supposed speed boostgained from perpendicularstorage. This drive brings upthe rear in most of ourbenchmarks. Fortunately, thelarge 32MB cache means thedrive was close to the frontrunnersin our games test.There are fundamentalproblems though. Firstly, youcan buy three 500GB for thesame price and have cash leftover for a USB key, andsecondly, a terabyte is a lot tolose at once if it breaks down.. 69SPINPOINT T HD501JProving that old dogs still have a few tricksManufacturer Hitachi Size 750GBWeb www.hitachigst.comConfusingly carrying the samename as the terabyte drivereviewed above, Hitachis little bigboy serves mainly to show up theflaws of its larger classmates.Shedding that extra platter doeswonders for this drives fileflinging,and – again thanks toThe size and speedare perfect: the priceis less desirablethat cache – its only bested bythe Raptors in many tests.This heralds good things forterabyte drives of the future, astheres no reason the twoshouldnt be performing on a par:they feature the same tech. Justa bit less of it in this case. Itscurious that the burst speedshould be slower on the smallermodel, but it means little whenseen in context.One number does hang overthe 7K1000s magnetic headsthough: the price. Seven hundredand fifty gigs is a slightly moredesirable drive size than 500GB,especially for smaller PCswithout room to upgrade, buteven though this is the cheapest750 drive on test, its over twicethe price of a 500GB alternative.84Manufacturer Samsung Size 500GBWeb www.samsung.comGigs per pound, this littleperformer squeezes into top spotin our tests. But that wouldntcount for anything if it couldntkeep up with the field. In thesame way that IDE drives keptpace with the first generation ofSATA drives, the Spinpoint TDont write off the olddrive yetproves that it can be unwise toupgrade too early.At first glance, it may seem abit past it. Its a 133GB-perplatterlongitudinal affair,although it does sport a sprightly3GB/s interface and 16MB ofcache. In the wonderful words ofthe charming Korean marketingbumf: “High speed dual DSP inthe main controller IC enhancethe performance and speed ofthe HDD”.Its burst speed – as measuredby HD Tach – is the best by someway, and in most of the othertests its close to the top of thetable. Most importantly, though,that boosted burst gives it thefastest game load time of all thedrives. Excellent value allied toexcellent performance.91October 2007 93PCF205.w_group_test 93 8/8/07 18:17:30


SupertestPRICE£135.98BARRACUDAST750640ASTheres something fishy going onManufacturer Seagate Size 750GBWeb www.seagate.comIts been a while since we heard ahard disk that ground its waythough data transfers. You know,that noise associated with earlyNineties PCs that sounded like amillstone at work every time youThe originalperpendicular daddyPRICE£41.11thrashed your drive? TheBarracuda isnt that bad, but it islouder, and finger-burninglyhotter, than other drives here.Perhaps it likes the heat; itscertainly strange that in two ofthe more demanding tests –PCMark and Battlefield 2 – theBarracuda excelled. Strangebecause in every other test itscored towards the lower end ofthe group, and theseinconsistencies give us cause forconcern. Spare a thought though– this was the first perp drive toarrive in stores, and its only to beexpected its successors improveon its performance, so werehappy to see this drive hold itsown, even if it is noisy.78CAVIARWD2500KSBuilt like they used to make themManufacturer Western Digital Size250GB Web www.wdc.comNow, if youre buying a new harddrive based purely on its pricepoint, this is the kind of thing youmight get. Its a reasonably sized250GB drive, and it tips thescales at just shy of £50. Only aSave for another month andbuy something biggertotal loon would take time outto argue with that, even if a500GB does work out less perounce of data.Heres why you should do yourhomework, though. Unlike manyother drives at the same price,this was WDs first true SATAdrive, and it performs like one.While internal transfers arent asfast as the newer designs outthere, good burst speeds help itto keep up in many practicaltests, and even the 45 secondmap load time isnt too far offthe mark.If youre on a tight budget, andreally cant stretch to a larger,more economical drive, you coulddo a lot worse.70PRICE£64.44BARRACUDAST3500630ASlower on the insideManufacturer Seagate Size 500GBWeb www.seagate.comBased on the same innards as the750GB Barracuda, this halfterabytefishy suffers from verysimilar problems. Relatively slowburst rates, internal file transfersGood value for money.But not good enoughPRICE£67.43(i.e. copying a file from onelocation to another on the samedrive) that positively dawdle. Inmost cases, the smaller size(one less platter) allows it tooutperform the other Seagatedrive here, though with twonotable exceptions.The game loads and burstrates are clearly slower thanks tothe IDE rather than SATAinterface. If there were still anydoubt that SATA is worthinvesting in, this should quash it.Not only does it throttleperformance, but unfortunatelyfor Seagate, using an IDEinterface hasnt brought the pricedown far enough to beat the500GB Samsung.63RAPTORWD360ADFDAngry beast or just a dinosaur?Manufacturer Western Digital Size36GB Web www.wdc.comWhat use, exactly, is a 36GB harddrive like this one these days?Not a lot, and thats probably whythis particular model has beendiscontinued by Western Digital.Its still available to buy online,More space, pleasethough, so makes it fair fodderfor our test.The Raptors from WesternDigital arent about value formoney though: theyre aboutlightning performance. The onlydrives in this test to have aserver-class spin speed of10,000rpm, its a shame theyrenot coupled with a SATA3.0GB/s interface, as they pushclose to the limits of the mucholder 1.5GB/s ones they sport.Super fast data seek times,rapid reads and unmatchedinternal transfers of over80MB/s: its just a shame thatthe Samsung, at precisely onefifteenth of the price per gig, isvery nearly as fast.6494 October 2007PCF205.w_group_test 94 8/8/07 18:17:32


HARD DRIVE SUPERTESTPRICE£131.10RAPTORWD1500ADFDNow thats more like itManufacturer Western Digital Size150GB Web www.wdc.comDont look at the price tag, dontlook at the price tag, dont look atthe… oh, you went and looked atthe price, didnt you? A foolishmistake, because as a decidedlycovetable object, this is onlyBeautifully engineered,but not the speed king bya clear enough marginPRICE£140.60CAVIARWD7500AAKSAn interesting case studyManufacturer Western Digital Size750GB Web www.wdc.comPutting this 750GB drive head-toheadwith the WD5000AAKSprovides us with no surprises atall. Seek times and small filehandling are both quicker on thesmaller drive, while the largerSolid performance, but itsalso the most expensive750GB herebested by WDs own Raptor Xseries of drives – you know, theones where you can see theplatters spin and the headsmove through a small window.Proving that size does matter,the older, 36GB model doesoutperform this 150GB modelslightly, but not enough to make adifference to everyday work. Notonly is the Raptor fast though,like the other Western Digitaldrives on test here its also cooland quiet.Itll be beyond most peoplesprice range, and thats fairenough for a high performancepiece. If only that damnedSamsung wasnt nipping soclosely at its ankles.82capacity also leaves the biggerdisk struggling at least bycomparison.Overall though, better writeand read times for large files, anda burst speed second only to theSeagate, evens things out whenit comes to a technicalshowdown. Indeed, this particularunit came top of the class of7200 spin speeds in PCMarkshard drive test, suggesting itll bea useful tool for multimediastorage and playback.Prices rise exponentially forthat extra 250GB, though, and itshard to justify doubling the pricefor one extra platter. A 750GBdrive is convenient, but its notreally essential.71PRICE£66.97CAVIARWD5000AAKSWDs flagship steps up to the plateManufacturer Western Digital Size500GB Web www.wdc.comThe mainstay of Western Digitalshard drive fleet is the Caviar SE16range. The suffix refers to the16MB cache size – once a thing ofawe, but now dwarfed by theRefined, but not thebest performerPRICE£85.46flagship Deskstars. A glance atthe benchmarks will show whereHitachis perpendicular 750GBdrive is neck and neck with boththe Western Digital perps, butthe larger cache gives theDeskstar the edge.Frankly, were prepared to paya little more for a little lessperformance when its as quiet asthe Caviar drives are. The lowheat generation also bodes wellfor longevity too – as does theSATA cable clip built into thesocket on this drive. Hotswappable drives have beenknown to fail when the SATAcable falls out, and if you spend alot of time working on your PC,this detail can really pay off.87CAVIARWD2500AAJS x2Double the pleasureManufacturer Western Digital Size2x 250GB Web www.wdc.comOur challenge here is to take twoof WDsl 250GB drives – basicdrives with an 8MB cache – andsee if a mirrored RAID setup willgive us the same fast load timesas a more expensive disk. WeDont go for RAID ifits performanceyoure afteralready know were sacrificingwrite times for the incrediblefeeling of security a RAID 1set-up gives us: each drive is aperfect copy of the other, so ifone fails, your data ispreserved on the other.The answer is, sadly, no. Astriped RAID array, where datais split across the two drives,might be a bit faster, butperformance-wise youd bebetter off with a single 500GBdrive. As for our RAID 1 set-up,£85 may seem a lot for just250GB of total storage space,but if thats all your familyphotos and importantdocuments, the peace of mindis probably worth it.75October 2007 95PCF205.w_group_test 95 8/8/07 18:17:34


SupertestBenchmarksMaking sense of an awful lot of numbersThe facts of lifeOne thing we’ve definitely discoveredin this extensive set of tests is that –Raptors aside – there’s no drive whichexcels at everything. Indeed, some ofthe findings seem almost inconsistent,and show that there’s more to picking ahard drive than spin speeds and searchtimes. For gaming it’s almost always thecase that the best read speedstranslate into less frustrating use,although a lot is dependent on thecontroller and the type of interfacetoo. For general desktop work,though, the PCMark scores showthat good sequential writes (ie largefiles) and a big cash pay out.PC Mark7,7247,5127,4737,5587,5117,2987,5337,5447,4497,4887,4967,444BetterDeskstarT7K500Deskstar7K1000 (1TB)Deskstar7K1000Spinpoint THD501LJBarracudaST3750640ASBarracudaST3500630ACaviarWD2500KSRaptorWD360ADFDRaptorWD1500ADFDCaviarWD5000AAKSCaviarWD7500AAKSCaviarWD2500AAJS x2HD Tach (average read, MB/s)74.477.5 78.276.371.166.655.367.461.266.155.362.2BetterDeskstarT7K500Deskstar7K1000 (1TB)Deskstar7K1000Spinpoint THD501LJBarracudaST3750640ASBarracudaST3500630ACaviarWD2500KSRaptorWD360ADFDRaptorWD1500ADFDCaviarWD5000AAKSCaviarWD7500AAKSCaviarWD2500AAJS x2Write time (larg e files/secs)5.0164.6574.4224.501 4.5014.4854.3914.407 4.4224.4224.4074.703BetterDeskstarT7K500Deskstar7K1000 (1TB)Deskstar7K1000Spinpoint THD501LJBarracudaST3750640ASBarracudaST3500630ACaviarWD2500KSRaptorWD360ADFDRaptorWD1500ADFDCaviarWD5000AAKSCaviarWD7500AAKSCaviarWD2500AAJS x2Battlefield 2 map load (secs)53.541.840.0937.03 37.5341.7545.4338.0938.8139.9340.59 39.92BetterDeskstarT7K500Deskstar7K1000 (1TB)Deskstar7K1000Spinpoint THD501LJBarracudaST3750640ASBarracudaST3500630ACaviarWD2500KSRaptorWD360ADFDRaptorWD1500ADFDCaviarWD5000AAKSCaviarWD7500AAKSCaviarWD2500AAJS x296 October 2007PCF205.w_group_test 96 8/8/07 18:17:35


Hard drive supertestCPUDESKSTART7K500DESKSTAR7K1000 (1TB)DESKSTAR7K1000SPINPOINTT HD501LJBARRACUDAST3750640ASBARRACUDAST3500630APRICE £71.45 £211.21 £130 £62.26 £135.98 £64.44MANUFACTURER Hitachi Hitachi Hitachi Samsung Seagate SeagateSIZE 500GB 1,000GB 750GB 500GB 750GB 500GBSPINDLE SPEED 7,200 7,200 7,200 7,200 7,200 7,200INTERFACE SATA 3.0GB/s SATA 3.0GB/s SATA 3.0GB/s SATA 3.0GB/s SATA 3.0GB/s IDECACHE 8MB 32MB 32MB 16MB 16MB 16MBTYPE Perpendicular Perpendicular Perpendicular Longitudinal Perpendicular PerpendicularTESTED SEEK TIME(QUOTED SEEK TIME)13.0ms (8.5ms) 13.2ms (8.5ms) 13.1ms (8.5ms) 14.0ms (8.9ms) 18.0ms (8.5ms) 14.6ms (11ms)TRANSFER SPEED(small file, manual timing)62 MB/s(23.25 MB/s)16.154 MB/s(9.88 MB/s)67.804 MB/s(24.8 MB/s)67.446 MB/s(27.08 MB/s)25.54 MB/s(13.45 MB/s)18.925 MB/s(11.09 MB/s)PLATTERS 3 5 4 4 4 3COST PER GB 14.3p 21.2p 17.33p 12.45p 18.13 12.88pSCORE 54% 69% 84% 91% 78% 63%CPUCAVIARWD2500KSRAPTORWD360ADFDRAPTORWD1500ADFDCAVIARWD5000AAKSCAVIARWD7500AAKSCAVIAR WD2500AAJS x2PRICE £41.11 £67.43 £131.10 £66.97 £140.60 £85.46MANUFACTURER Western Digital Western Digital Western Digital Western Digital Western Digital Western DigitalSIZE 250GB 36GB 150GB 500GB 750GB 250GB x2SPINDLE SPEED 7,200 10,000 10,000 7,200 7,200 7,200INTERFACE SATA 3.0GB/s SATA 1.5GB/s SATA 1.5GB/s SATA 3.0GB/s SATA 3.0GB/s SATA 3.0GB/sCACHE 16MB 16MB 16MB 16MB 16MB 8MBTYPE Longitudinal Longitudinal Longitudinal Perpendicular Perpendicular LongitudinalTESTED SEEK TIME(QUOTED SEEK TIME)13.1ms (8.9ms) 7.9ms (4.6ms) 8.0ms (4.6ms) 14.1ms (8.9ms) 14.9ms (8.9ms) 14ms (8.9ms)TRANSFER SPEED(small file, manual timing)19.67 MB/s(22.96 MB/s)80.50 MB/s(27.09 MB/s)73.94 MB/s(23.85 MB/s)61.855 MB/s(21.08 MB/s)54.191 MB/s(17.88 MB/s)17.233 MB/s(10.55 MB/s)PLATTERS 2 1 3 3 4 2x2COST PER GB 16.44p 187.31p 87.4p 13.39p 18.74p 17.09pSCORE 70% 64% 82% 87% 71% 75%October 2007 97PCF205.w_group_test 97 8/8/07 18:17:36


SupertestSAMSUNGSPINPOINTT HD501LJVictory marchTheres a clear winner here, and itsnot the drive we expected…The Spinpoint T HD501LJ is Samsung’s midrange desktopdrive, and offers the best value for money there is – just 12pa gigabyte. It’s not just cheap, though. By fine-tuning wellestablished technology, Samsung has produced a drivewhich can even outpace the Raptors when it comes tomoving lots of small files around. This is our drive of choiceand the one we recommend you buy if you’re looking for ahard disk now or in the near future.From the variations across the board, it’s clear that just bymaking a drive perpendicular you’re not going to receiveany massive speed bonuses – the whole drive has to beconfigured correctly. One of the advantages ofperpendicular recording, though, is that it’s bringing pricesdown across the board, and very fast too. While we simplycan’t recommend Hitachi’s terabyte drive – although kudosfor having such a leviathan on the books, Hitch – there’s nottoo much of a price premium for 750GB drives. Coupledwith a large cache these are proving to be quite theperformers: that large size makes them especially good forworking with movies, too.When it comes to buying budget, there are a lot of 250GBmodels out there that can be had for a song, and given theamount of a thrashing Vista gives disks, with its constantbackground indexing and so forth, it’s well worthconsidering rigging two of these up in a mirrored RAIDarray. It’s an instant backup that will save your sanity if anelectrical storm looms. If you’re using RAID for theperformance gains, though, we’d have to say don’t bother. It’snot worth the premium of halving your storage space.98 October 2007PCF205.w_group_test Sec1:98 8/8/07 18:17:36

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