Welcome to this week's edition of our Price Guides. This guide will be covering storage in the form of hard drives and DVDR's and point out some recent advances in these technologies. As usual, be sure to check out our RealTime Pricing Engine for the latest prices and deltas.

SATA Hard Drives

As memory prices continue their journey upward, storage prices have been moving very slowly and in some cases actually dropping. In the past months we have seen everything from slashed prices to huge manufacturer rebates on virtually any size and type of hard drive imaginable, save for the occasional hike. This is great news since not only has the cost per gigabyte of storage gone down overall, but performance has gone up as well with the introduction of greater platter densities and larger disk buffers.

Serial ATA drives have also become more obvious in the marketplace with models appear on shelves right next to their PATA brethren and usually at very similar prices. With drives such as the Western Digital Raptors showing the world what SATA can do and how much room it has to get even better, we expect to see more SATA drives being chosen over classic PATA as consumers build new systems and upgrade old ones as long as prices continue to stay competitive.

While the cost of stashing that massive music or home video collection have been more enticing lately, the price of performance continues to be within reach of the average prosumer thanks to Western Digital. When it comes down to it, the Raptor series drives are the best you can get short of making the dive into SCSI devices. These drives sport a 10,000 RPM spindle speed along with an 8 MB buffer compared to other drives which are usually either 7200 RPM or 5400 RPM. At around $110 for the 36.7GB version and $220 for the 74GB version, the Raptor certainly isn't the cheapest of drive weighing in at almost $3 per gigabyte, but what they lack in price they make up for in raw performance. You also gain the luxury of extremely simple setup thanks to the SATA design and very simple cabling to keep your machine looking clean inside.

If you simply can't resist SATA there are some options in this category which are well worth consideration especially since motherboards have started to more frequently show up with SATA built right in even with RAID controllers. Western Digital makes a solid 200GB SATA drive at 7200RPMs and an 8MB cache for just under 70 cents per gigabyte. For the price of $140 200GB of space is certainly a good offer for a technology as new as SATA.

Concerning RAID: often we are asked if it is worth it to buy two 36.7GB drives and RAID them together for performance. Our answer is no; the performance increases are minute, but your stability issues are horrible. Suppose your drives have a 5% failure rate after 1 year. If you RAID two of your drives together the failure rate of your stripe jumps to 9.75% (compare this to just buying one big drive with a failure rate of 5%). Do you mind playing a 1 in 10 chance of loosing your data for single digit percentage performance increases? Granted, there are plenty of uses for RAID (DB servers, fileservers, etc), but workstation performance is not one of them.

PATA Hard Drives


View All Comments

  • operator - Monday, May 10, 2004 - link

    [quote] Do you mind playing a 1 in 10 chance of loosing your data for single digit percentage performance increases? [/quote]

    Sounds like someone doens't know the difference between losing and loosing.
  • Zak - Sunday, May 09, 2004 - link


    "Concerning RAID: often we are asked if it is worth it to buy two 36.7GB drives and RAID them together for performance. Our answer is no; the performance increases are minute, but your stability issues are horrible"

    Hmm... I run 2 Hitachi SATA drives in a RAID-0 on a K8V Deluze mobo and I'm getting reads and writes in excess of 100MB/s, games and apps launch noticeably faster, not exactly a "minute" increase. PATA RAID-0 was not that much faster but SATA RAID-0 nearly doubles the speed like SCSI does as far as I can tell. Agreed though that the chances of loosing data is higher, but this is my gaming/audio/video machine and I don't keep valuable data on it.
  • SocrPlyr - Wednesday, May 05, 2004 - link

    i forgot to mention about the unsecure data cable... i don't know about your uses but the ones i have used have snapped in very very tightly, maybe it was just the cables that i was using but i actually had problems removing them...

  • SocrPlyr - Wednesday, May 05, 2004 - link

    i would have to say the make good points but most of those things hold true for PATA as well... so they aren't anything new...

  • quanta - Tuesday, May 04, 2004 - link

    It seems everyone overlooks the potential problem with current generation of SATA drives, which is highlighted at http://ata-atapi.com/sata.htm . BTW, Hale Landis works on the ATA/ATAPI standards, so I have confident with his info. Other than that, the connector is not really secure, which can lead to data loss, is not fixed until SATA-2, and only on external SATA units. Reply
  • mechBgon - Tuesday, May 04, 2004 - link

    Kristopher, I really am just pulling your leg about the SCSI stuff :) I know no one wants to hear about SCSI due to the high cost-to-capacity ratio. To each his own... Reply
  • Slingman - Monday, May 03, 2004 - link


    I can't seem to get solid info on this anywhere, and your article really caught my eye since I was hoping to get an answer to this question. There are many of us that were holding out for the "new" 36 GB raptors based on the same mechanics as the 74 GB version, with the fluid bearing motors and all.

    Is there any word on whether or not these drives have actually hit the retail channel yet and if they have, where to buy them? Conversely, if they haven't, when are they expected to? A couple of months ago I had read that they would be shipping in April, but April has come and gone without a formal announcement. Thanks for the writeup.
  • AtaStrumf - Monday, May 03, 2004 - link

    Well in EU I pay more like $1,75 per disc, and if I want to get some quality It costs me $2,50/disc. And yes that is US dollars!

    So I think you all should just thank your lucky stars!
  • Jeff7181 - Monday, May 03, 2004 - link

    Sorry for being anal... but since when is "RAID" a verb? =) Reply
  • KristopherKubicki - Monday, May 03, 2004 - link

    True Absolut, but if you go to best buy you can find them for even cheaper after rebate.


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