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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  • JNo - Friday, December 19, 2008 - link

    Interesting comments on these. The price does indeed seem very compelling especially to the significantly more expensive WD 1TB drives (and I usually like Samsung e.g. DVD drives, TVs etc). However, I bought a Spinpoint F1 1TB recently after a 500GB WD recently went bad (after intense usage admittedly) and every now and then it reports S.M.A.R.T. errors on load up (only a few weeks old!). Also, a friend of mine returned his for same reason. And the replacement one also did the same... what is it with these things?! I will pay the extra in future for a different brand, especially as it's my primary data storage... Reply
  • JonnyDough - Friday, December 19, 2008 - link

    Great value, good drives. All my drives are Pioneer, including two slot drives I got for a mATX system. Reply
  • DBissett - Friday, December 19, 2008 - link

    Thanks for the review, but reread the section on DVD writers. It starts by recommending the Sony and LG units, for stated reasons. Fine. Then recommends looking at the Sony before purchasing the former. Why? ...you just recommended purchasing the former. Then you state that you still "favor" the Pioneer unit. Favor=prefer, so this statement contradicts everything said previously. Maybe you still "like" the Pioneer, but you clearly don't still favor it because you just recommended at least 2 units over it. It's just a whole lot of equivocating that ends up being contradictory. Maybe there's not a breath of difference among these units in real world use? Reply
  • bob4432 - Friday, December 19, 2008 - link

    i agree w/ the above post - why not just recommend the pioneer drive?

    also, you fail to mention that the green drive is a 5400rpm drive - this may be important to some people. if they come here and are a bit green themselves, you may want to educate them and let them know that they are not 5400-7200rpm like the wd marketing, but 5400rpm drives (when that first came out i was really impressed w/ a understanding of how drives work mechanically i was surprised somebody made a various speed drive - truth is they dont)

    last, why do you mention sas but you guys never mentioned scsi? is it simply because of the connector? oh well, scsi's reign is over except for us that have used it for years and still enjoy it, too bad the mainstream never really took to it even at an ethusiast level - just the enterprise community for the most part. sad because scsi was never hard - you just needed to read a bit and it was/is as easy as any other connection...
    Reply
  • RagingDragon - Sunday, December 21, 2008 - link

    Ummm... SAS = Serial Attached SCSI. Except for tape drives, parallel SCSI is pretty much dead. A 15K RPM SAS drive would be nice, though expensive, alternative to the Raptor - especially if your motherboard happens to include an SAS controller (i.e. the ASUS P6T and many server and workstation boards). Reply
  • HollyDOL - Saturday, December 20, 2008 - link

    Considering SCSI my bet for not mentioning them are as following:
    1. When SCSI drives got to the Enthusiast segment the SCSI was already obsolete replaced with high end SATA and SAS drives
    2. Those machines running SCSI drives are most likely 99% servers. You don't buy server discs for holiday :-)
    Reply
  • teko - Friday, December 19, 2008 - link

    Lately I've been seeing reports that the 1TB Seagate series that were manufactured in Thailand had firmware issues. Some of these HDD died within a month or two without any signs. So, it may be best to avoid them atm.

    If I'm not mistaken they're the 7200.11 lineup with SD15 firmware.
    Reply
  • The0ne - Monday, December 22, 2008 - link

    I got 2 of these 1.5TB drives waiting to be tested. Now that I have them I'm a bit afraid to keep my movies on them. Seagate has release a firmware to address the issue they claimed not to know about. Sorry, I don't have a link to the updated firmware. Reply
  • Jynx980 - Sunday, December 21, 2008 - link

    These 1.5TB(http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N8...">http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N8... and 1TB (http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N8...">http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N8... Seagate Baracuda's 7200.11 each have around 20% 1 egg reviews out of 400 and 500 total reviews. Ouch. The Seagate that is recommended on the second page must be pretty new with just 4 five egg reviews, though only one person actually bought from Newegg. I would go with the Black or Green WD's for now until the newer Seagate model has more reliability reports. Reply
  • TheDoc9 - Friday, December 19, 2008 - link

    A nice short piece for novice builders, but the Seagate 1.5 TB drive recommendation should be reconsidered. These drives are littered with 'freezing' reports on Newegg and other forums and resellers sites. The extreem failure rate has been cited by some as being THE reason for the steep price decline. Basically, they think we're a bunch of suckers and they're trying to unload bad inventory.

    You might consider pulling the recommendation until the drives are confirmed fixed.
    Reply

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