Introduction

It's a weekend, so it looks like it's time for another price guide! In RTPE news we are working on releasing a new graphing engine soon, so don't be surprised if our graphs start looking clean and anti-aliased, instead of the awful gnuplot terminal renders we are using now. Just in time for last month's Storage Guide, we unveiled our Cost Per GB calculator, which should help you in your storage purchasing decisions. Two weeks ago we (somewhat) quietly implemented logical OR into RTPE as well. Finally, we expect to open the Beta of our price alert engine very soon; so you will be able to let RTPE contact them as new rebates and refurbs show up on products on your watch list!

Storage news has been fairly weak recently. We recently saw the introduction of perpendicular recording, along with some other tidbits on magnetic storage in general. IDF had a small tidbit about Seagate's real time encryption dubbed FDE (Full Disk Encryption). FDE sounds like the Holy Grail of laptop security; loosing your laptop means a key will still be needed for the drive to physically decrypt its data. From our IDF coverage it seemed like Seagate's FDE was very rudimentary, but this is definitely a step in the right direction to prevent things like this from becoming big problems.

"SATA II"

Well even though there is virtually no noticeable difference between SATA IO (formerly SATA II) and SATA, we will continue to cover both sections independently in the hopes that perhaps someday there might be. Hard drive prices, in general, have been very stagnant over the last few weeks. While we have seen some expected changes on the large capacity devices, the majority of drives remain pretty much at the exact same price they were at when we published our last storage guide.

Last month we talked a little bit about Western Digital's "SATA IO" offering; the WD2500KS [RTPE: WD2500KS]. We criticized the drive a bit since the $0.60 per GB rating left a lot to the imagination. However, in the last two weeks all Western Digital SATA drives reduced competitively; and the WD2500KS became one of the most cost competitive drives at $0.48 per GB. Again, the drive lacks NCQ, but as we have seen in the past NCQ implementation seems highly dependent on the manufacturer. The 16MB buffer on the WD2500KS is another benefit only a handful of SATA drives have right now (all of which come from Maxtor) and of those drives only the Western Digital supports the (in)famous 3Gbps bus. Below you can see the aggressive behavior of this drive in the retail market:

Western Digital SATA II 250GB 7200RPM 16MB Caviar SE16

You'll also notice the addition of 500GB drives since our last Price Guide. At $0.64 per GB Hitachi isn't setting any records, unfortunately.

SATA
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  • zemane - Tuesday, August 30, 2005 - link

    Kristopher: About the RTPE graph, could the y axis be on multiples of 5, e.g., 5, 10, 15; or 20, 30, 40; or 150, 250, 350, etc.

    I feel this is more intuitive and helps getting a quick idea of how prices or volume are changing.
    Reply
  • KristopherKubicki - Tuesday, August 30, 2005 - link

    I'll try my best.

    Kristopher
    Reply
  • huges84 - Monday, August 29, 2005 - link

    I just bought a Seagate 7200.8 250GB SATA drive for my computer becuase it was so quiet in the computer that I built for my brother. My old 120GB Maxtor 6Y120L0 was the loudest part of my computer.

    With the Seagates you can't even hear them in either computer unless you put your ear right next to that part of the case. Now I actually have to look at the HDD activity light to know when my harddrive is busy. And the speed is amazing.

    I would definitely recommend that anyone who thinks they could use a new drive not hesitate and jump on it. The improvement is well worth it, especially since the harddrive can be the biggest bottleneck in any modern system.
    Reply
  • PrinceGaz - Monday, August 29, 2005 - link

    Pretty much any decent new hard-drive these days has fluid dynamic bearings, so all of them from any manufacturer are a lot quieter than drives of a few years ago.

    The prices of both PATA and SATA drives up to 250GB or so, is so cheap now there's no reason to opt for anything less. Even if you're only likely to use 100GB or less, having a larger drive that costs only slightly more will give higher performance as all the data will be on the outside of the disk giving higher transfer rates and reduced seek-times.

    Hard drives are an absolute bargain these days imo.
    Reply
  • SpaceRanger - Monday, August 29, 2005 - link

    Would like to see them start adding Notebook HD's in there as well. Reply
  • huges84 - Monday, August 29, 2005 - link

    agreed Reply
  • CZroe - Monday, August 29, 2005 - link

    Retail has always been the best way to purchase hard drives so I really don't see the point of this guide. Fry's had the Raptor 36GB drive for $69 after rebate this past week. Best Buy had the WD1200JB 120GB drives for $19.99 after rebate and I've been buying them for that cheap for years now (They show up every few weeks). I've gotten four 7k400 400GB drives from Fry's for $179.99ea with NO tax. Even Office Depot and Office Max have MUCH better prices. These price guides are only useful if you can't do anything else but purchase immediately and you have no local electronics stores. Reply
  • bdoney - Monday, August 29, 2005 - link

    Nice price guide, and it's useful but it would be nice to have rebate information on there. I just picked up two WD 160GB drives at a local electronic store chain. The price was $120 each with $80 of rebates for each drive. With pricing like that, I can't see buying any other hard drive unless you REALLY want the cutting edge. Reply
  • huges84 - Monday, August 29, 2005 - link

    The price guides have never been about rebates, because you are still paying $120 for the drive. You cannot get that drive if you only have $40. Yes, when all is said and done 8 weeks (or more) later, you may or may not get $80 back. But even then you will have lost that purchasing power for a while and lost all possinbility of interest on that money.

    Besides, the price guides are all about finding good components at the best (relativley) dependable prices. You should be able to read a price guide from two weeks ago on motherboards and the recommendations should still be mostly the same as they would be right this second. Afterall, the priceguides for every category aren't redone every week.

    But of course rebates still offer low prices, and some people have no problem with them. (I don't like them but it doesn't mean I won't jump on a really great deal). For those people, there are the forums where people can post hot deals. Also, I would suggest you checkout the best place for hot deals: BensBargains.net That place is all about the absolute best prices.
    Reply
  • PrinceGaz - Monday, August 29, 2005 - link

    Splitting the HD price tables into seperate sections depending on capacity is good, but there's a slight glitch. In the 400GB tables, 40GB drives are showing up as well. I guess a little more tweaking is needed of the algorithm used to select them.

    I picked up a Maxtor MaxLine III 250GB SATA drive last week which I've been very impressed with so far. You have the drive listed in the SATA section rather than SATA II, but according to Maxtor the drive has

    SATA II features, including:
    - Native command queuing
    - Hot plug
    - Staggered spin-up
    - Asynchronous signal recovery

    so the MaxLine III drives probably belong in the SATA II section.
    Reply

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