Unfortunately, many of the drives in this November 2005 edition of our storage price guide have remained near the same price range as in our last edition. As we get closer and closer to the holiday season, we're confident to say that you will find some exceptional deals in the coming editions - after all, Black Friday is only a week away!

Although they are still outrageously priced, many more SAS drives have been released into the market. For you SATA users, we have some good news. The 3.0Gbps drives have reached approximately the same price as to the 1.5Gbps drives, making them generally a better buy. Higher quality DVDRs have become a must have these days for any new rig, be sure to read through our guide as you may find something that you were looking for.

And how can we forget, bookmark our RTPE system page at; the only system that will bring you up to the minute prices for much of your hardware component needs without any bias.

To start off our guide, we'll take a look at how the newer SATA 3.0Gbps drives are fairing.

SATA - 3.0Gbps

We're not seeing much of any price fluctuations this week with the SATA 3.0Gbps drives. A few have gone up and a few have gone down, but nothing too significant. The best bang for the buck this week is going to have to be the 250GB Western Digital Caviar SE16 7200RPM with 16MB of cache [RTPE: WD2500KS] and you'll also see this drive has had a small price reduction of $16, brining the total to $109.00 shipped.

If you're looking for more drive space, the 500GB Seagate Barracuda (7200.9) 7200RPM with 16MB of cache [RTPE: ST3500641AS] is down $7.00 for a grand total of $350.00 shipped, about $0.70 per GB. However, you would be saving $132.00 if you were to go with two of the WD drives we recommended above rather than a single 500GB Seagate. Our opinion? Save your $132.00 and go with two of the WD's instead.

If you would take a look at the graph below, you can see the 500GB Seagate has been on a healthy decline since it was initially released. We're expecting it to drop a bit more before it steadies out.

Seagate 3.0Gbps 500GB 7200RPM 16MB Barracuda 7200.9

Not all of us need that kind of density, so if you're looking for something basic, we suggest you don't go with any drive lower than an 80GB. Any lower, and you will be spending too much money per GB. We suggest the 80GB Hitachi Deskstar 7K80 (7200RPM, 8MB cache) [RTPE: HDS728080PLA380] for about $57.00.

SATA - 1.5Gbps
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  • CorrND - Monday, November 21, 2005 - link

    "It's definitely difficult for us to recommend a 1.5Gbps drive because of the prices being so close..."

    Isn't the 1.5Gbps vs 3.0Gbps issue moot because the transfer rates of all ATA hard drives (even the Raptors) are 3-4 times lower than 1.5Gbps? Given that, I'd say it's pretty easy to recommend a drive with a 1.5Gbps transfer rate, even if the price difference is small. If there are other desirable features present on a drive with a 3.0Gbps max transfer rate, this statement should be phrased in the context of that feature, not the unreachable max transfer rate.
  • Pirks - Monday, November 21, 2005 - link

    Well, when you have 16MB cache on your HDD then 3 Gbps SATA is not that bad. 16MB cache isn't very big, but imagine what happens when HDD manufacturers switch to 32MB or even 64MB cache. This probably won't happen anytime soon, but in general SATA speed helps more with the bigger cache. So, IF you have same price for 1.5 Gbps and for 3 Gbps drives, I'd say 3 Gbps with 16MB cache WILL be just a little faster. However, if 3 Gbps costs a LITTLE higher... dunno then, probaby going for 1.5 Gbps makes sense in _this_ case.
  • CorrND - Monday, November 21, 2005 - link

    You seem to be making a case for buying a motherboard with a 3Gbps SATA connection. I see your point that future hard drives with larger caches will begin to approach the 1.5Gbps transfer rate of the original SATA specification. That's probably years and years away, though.

    However, I don't see the point for arguing in favor of a 3Gbps hard drive NOW. You could put a 16MB cache on a 1.5Gbps hard drive and see the exact same performance increase. It seems as if the 3Gbps standard is being used as a way to differentiate generations of SATA drives. Is this true?
  • Pirks - Monday, November 21, 2005 - link

    Yeah, I agree that buying 3 Gbps HDD when you have only 1.5 Gbps SATA on your mobo is stupid unless you plan to upgrade to 3 Gbps soon. But I'm not sure 3 Gbps vs 1.5 Gbps does not make any difference on a HDD with 16MB cache. The difference must be there, although it'll be rather hard to notice (except for the burst transfer rate of course). If this is the same with the price... I mean if the difference in price is as little and unnoticeable as the difference in peformance, then why not 3 Gbps? And SATA generation is not only distinguished by speed. There are more features in SATA besides burst transfer rate and NCQ, however you are right in the sense that marketing/ads focuse on speed and sometimes on NCQ as well, but this is just marketing, you know.
  • JarredWalton - Monday, November 21, 2005 - link

    We've done some benchmarks with the">1.5 vs. 3.0 Gbps SATA drives. While it wasn't really a massive difference, the SATA 2.0 drives were in general a bit faster. In certain benchmarks they were noticeably faster, while in other benchmarks they might even be marginally slower. The end conclusion is that SATA 3.0 Gbps are the better drives, though, and they're backwards compatible. If the price is essentially the same, there's little reason to buy the older drives. However, some people will find $5 to $10 savings on the 1.5 Gbps models, in which case they become reasonable.
  • LoneWolf15 - Monday, November 21, 2005 - link

    It'd be pretty nice if you could figure out how to fit cost-per-GB on your HDD charts along with your current information.
  • Pirks - Monday, November 21, 2005 - link

    Second that! Could you AT guys please add this $/GB metric in your next HDD price reviews? Pretty please, with sugar on top :)
  • phusg - Monday, November 21, 2005 - link

    What's all this Black Friday business? (I'm not American BTW) Aren't prices usually held artifically high in the run up to Christmas, with the New Year being the best time to buy (hardware)? You seem to be saying that this Black Friday (the day after Thanksgiving?) is best?!? I'm confused. Anyone?
    A foreigner
  • JarredWalton - Monday, November 21, 2005 - link

    Black Friday is the day after Thanksgiving, and there are always tons of "One Day Only!!!" sales. Some of them can be really good, and there are often fights between shoppers over who gets the last [insert name of popular item]. There's no school on that day, and it's the unofficial start of the holiday shopping season.
  • phusg - Tuesday, November 22, 2005 - link

    Thanks Jarred. I didn't realise about the whole "One Day Only" offer thing. AFAIK Europe only ever has something like that when a store opens.

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