Thanks for joining us in our latest edition of the weekly price guides. This week, we are going to take a look at storage media, hard drives and optical devices. We'll be taking a look at the SATA drives, both the 3.0Gbps and 1.5Gbps drives, PATA drives, and both Ultra 320 and SAS SCSI drives. We've mentioned this a few times recently - the RTPE has been updated and pages load much quicker now. If you tried our RTPE a month or two ago and found it to be too slow, give it another shot. Our goal is to be able to cater to all your hardware needs, bringing you all the unbiased information that you need to score yourself the best hardware deals on the Internet. We try to include all the reputable online vendors, none of which pay us to be listed here.

Now, we'll head on to what this price guide is really about: hard drives. We have had many requests from our readers to include laptop hard drives in our storage price guides and we are going to address this request officially, here and now. Previously, our pricing engine only tracked desktop hard drives. We are actually in the process of adding laptop hard drives to the RTPE, since a large number of people use laptops these days and they, too, can also use more hard drive capacity. Once the laptop hard drives are added into the RTPE, we will begin including them in our monthly storage guides.

We are hoping to get this project completed within the next two months or so. We kindly ask you please to bear with us and keep checking to see when they are in fact listed in our storage guides. For now, we offer the following advice. Most importantly, know what your laptop can support. Most laptops still use an IDE interface, although we are starting to see SATA laptop drives in a few high-end models now. Besides the interface, you also need to consider the heat output. Generally speaking, 4200 RPM drives run cooler than most 5400 RPM drives, and the 7200 RPM drives are definitely hotter than the slower RPM models. While a nice, large 7200 RPM laptop drive might sound enticing, 5400 RPM models might be a safer bet long-term.

Other than those warnings, the primary concern will be capacity. Laptop drives are definitely more expensive than desktop drives, with even the cheapest models costing over $1/GB. Assuming that you want to purchase a new drive because your current drive is too small, we would look at the 120 GB drives. Brand isn't a huge concern of ours, and Samsung and Western Digital win out as the cheapest options, followed by Fujitsu. Seagate costs quite a bit more, and we find it hard to justify the $0.41/GB premium that's being charged. For about the same cost per GB, the 80 and 100 GB drives are also something to consider. We would only purchase a 40 GB or 60 Gigabytes drive if you are replacing a crashed hard drive and you really don't need any more capacity.

We realize that the pricing tables below and on the following pages do not allow better sorting options like the RTPE does. The main thing that you will find in the RTPE is the cost per GB breakdown. It makes finding the best storage deals extremely easy. Now, let's head on over to the next page and have a look at the 3.0Gbps SATA hard drives.

SATA – 3.0Gbps
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  • AznBoi36 - Sunday, March 19, 2006 - link

    I think it would be a good idea if the drives shown include NCQ/RoHS since there are both the same models that have/doesn't have these features.

    Like for example; there are models of the 7200.8 that feature NCQ and then there are models that do not have NCQ.

    Just to clarify a point...
  • Zoomer - Wednesday, March 22, 2006 - link

    NCQ may be useful to some, but RoHS? Who really cares about that?
  • jamori - Monday, March 13, 2006 - link

    While I understand that most of the anandtech staff doesn't like to deal with rebates, there are those of us who are willing to in order to get the best deal on a product.

    Under the old RTPE, cost/GB would be calculated with before-rebate prices, and I recall that even when sorting by price in the 'rebate' section, the before rebate price would be used to sort. It seems that the new 'rebates' sections don't have any sorting options, but in the storage section, the cost/GB for products with rebates doesn't make any sense.

    For example, in the SATA drive rebate section, the drive at the top is a 250GB Maxtor drive from TigerDirect for $119.99 - $30 MIR, with (it looks like) $8.36 in tax/shipping/whatever for me. The price displayed is $88.37 after MIR, and it says $.39/GB.

    This doesn't make any sense, though. $88.37/250 = $0.3535 / GB
    Ok, so are you using the before-rebate price? Let's try $128.37 -> $0.5135 / GB. Definitely not.
    $119.99 -> 0.47996 / GB. Nope

    The only thing I can find that's anywhere close is if you take the average of the retail price and the after-rebate price, ignoring shipping, to get
    (119.99 + 79.99) / (2*250) -> $0.39996 / GB, which (if that's how you're doing it), should be rounded up to $0.40 / GB anyway.

    How in the world are you calculating cost/GB??
  • JarredWalton - Monday, March 13, 2006 - link

    You'll have to ask our RTPE people, who are separate from the editorial staff. I'll forward this question to Lawrence to see if he can respond (or fix the issue).
  • JarredWalton - Monday, March 13, 2006 - link

    Actually, looking at">this page, I'm not sure which price/drive you're talking about. The P/GB results seem to take the rebates into account, plus shipping. If there's an issue with any of the values listed, send me a direct link, would you? Right now, just giving it a quick once-over, everything looks right.
  • rrcn - Monday, March 13, 2006 - link


    I base my cost/GB prices on what the RTPE lists it as.

    I don't know which Maxtor you were using in your example, but I will give you an example of my own.

    The 250GB Maxtor [RTPE:">6L250SO] which can be found listed on the SATA 1.5Gbps is retailing for $99.99 shipped.

    Now if you click">here and scroll down to the third drive from the end, you will see the 6L250SO. You'll see that it's priced at $0.40/GB which is what is stated in the guide on page 3. That's the price of the hard drive plus shipping that gives you $0.40/GB.

    $99.99 (including shipping cost)/250GB = $0.39996 = $0.40/GB.

    I base my prices on exactly what the RTPE states. And the price listed in the RTPE is only the cost of the drive plus shipping, taxes are omitted from the prices listed as that varies from state to state.
  • PrinceGaz - Monday, March 13, 2006 - link

    "Moving right along, here you'll see the many PATA drives that are available. Looking at the cost per GB, these drives are right up there with the SATA drives these days. As most motherboards currently support SATA drives, we suggest that you go with a SATA drive. However, if you are running an older motherboard or one without the option of the SATA interface, a PATA drive is going to be your only option."

    A PATA drive is not your only option. It might be worth buying a cheap SATA PCI card so that you can use a SATA drive instead. That has the advantage that when you upgrade you can use the SATA drive in your new system.
  • SLIM - Monday, March 13, 2006 - link

    Can anybody explain why nobody seems to want to build sata optical drives??? Plextor is the only one I know of that ships one sata drive. Is it that much more expensive to use a sata interface? It would be nice to finally get rid of parallel cables (even rounded ones).
  • JarredWalton - Monday, March 13, 2006 - link

    The Plextor SATA drive apparently has issues, so it could be that other companies have looked into SATA optical drives and are holding off for now.
  • Lamdon - Sunday, March 12, 2006 - link

    I am sorta dissapointed there were no mobile drives posted. I am presently looking for a 2.5" hard drive for my laptop.

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