With more and more product lines and subtle variations, it is certainly legitimate to ask yourself: why should I care? The hard drive does not make that much of a difference anyway.
Clearly, there are two factors that make the entire discussion obsolete for average users. On the one hand, the hard drive has always been, and will continue to be, the slowest PC component. Modern drives still have access times of 12 to 16 ms (milliseconds), while even low-cost flash memory and regular memory of all types are in the nanosecond range. Throughput has only increased tenfold within the last ten years—check the article Capacities Outran Performance for details. Meanwhile, CPU or graphics performance went up by several orders of magnitude. Thus, even a RAID edition or performance-enhanced version of a hard drive really does not make a significant difference in the big picture, except for when it comes to reliability.
The second item that speaks against discussing these hard drive models in detail is drive power consumption. The story becomes somewhat ridiculous if we select a power saving hard drive for a high-end PC: getting a drive that runs a few watts below the power levels of a mainstream 7,200 RPM drive to install it into a PC that requires 100+ W definitely is a waste of time.
Specific Requirements Need Matching Hard Drives
However, there are many good reasons to select the right hard drive, the first being reliability. If you intend to keep your PC running constantly, so it can serve files, take care of regular downloads, or simply be available on demand at any time, it clearly makes sense to get a RAID edition or 24/7 drive, just to be on the safe side.
If you want higher performance storage, you should go for a 10,000 RPM Western Digital Velociraptor, or one of the latest flash solid state drives (SSDs). They’re all more expensive than the 7,200 RPM mainstream, but they provide substantial performance benefits that the business or RAID models at 7,200 RPM do not.
Finally, power consumption becomes interesting if you’re paying attention to this for all your components. Once your system gets down to 40 to 60 W of idle power, a 5 W difference in the hard drive is noticeable and worth consideration.
Corporate users who need to operate hundreds or thousands of hard drives should always consider low-power drives for storage arrays. Of course, this can only work if performance isn’t a primary objective, but a large number of power-efficient drives not only reduces operating power consumption, it also contributes to lower cooling costs.
- Mainstream, Business or Eco? Samsung Terabyte Drives Compared
- Eco? Should You Care?
- Samsung Spinpoint F, RAID, EcoGreen
- Drive Comparison Table and Test Setup
- Benchmark Results: Transfer Diagrams
- Benchmark Results: Throughput
- Benchmark Results: Access Time and I/O Performance
- Application Performance, Temperature, Power Requirements
- Workstation I/O Performance per Watt
- Streaming Read Performance per Watt