Top performance of a hard drive is not so critical, but the high-quality IBM Deskstars are about the same price as the other quality contenders and the IBM Deskstar is the fastest IDE drive on the market! And as a nice little bonus it also happens to be the quietest! The 80GB size is the "sweet spot" winner. I recommend getting one drive. It reduces the heat burden on your PC and you can always upgrade to a faster, bigger hard drive when the time is right. And it won't be long before other storage options are available, such as rewritable DVD's, which may end the search for ever larger hard drives. In general, I don't like to use "white boxes" since they are not as complete as the retail box. The hard drive is the exception. The retail box does not include much more. It includes mounting brackets, which I wouldn't even have needed, and screws, which you can get in ample quantity at Radio Shack or Home Depot. And it also includes disk utilities, but these can be downloaded from the manufacturer.
Originally I equipped My Super PC with an IBM Deskstar 75GXP hard drive, the 45GB size. And while the 75GXP line is still a very respectable hard drive in terms of speed and noise even by today's standards, the IBM Deskstar 120GXP line is even faster and quieter! The 120GXP line is available in various sizes, such as 40GB, 60GB, 80GB and 120GB sizes, with the 80GB size being in the "sweet spot" at the moment. The IBM Deskstar 120GXP line is ATA100 hard drives, whereas ATA133 is the newly arrived next step in hard drive speed. But in practical terms an ATA100 hard drive performs the same or better than an ATA133 hard drive. A home computer has difficulty utilizing the full bandwidth of an ATA100 hard drive under any circumstances, much less an ATA133 hard drive. The overall performance winner instead goes to whichever drive has the larger buffer size and whichever drive performs better mechanically to improve performance in areas such as latency and seek times. This point is illustrated very well in this
Hard Drive Roundup Performance Review which compares the 120GXP with other highly regarded drives from Western Digital.
When I upgraded from the IBM Deskstar 75GXP 45GB hard drive to the IBM Deskstar 120GXP 80GB hard drive, I did it for the increase in storage capacity and wasn't expecting to see any improvement in the speed or quiet operation of the 75GXP. So it was a pleasant surprise to first find out that I couldn't even hear the 120GXP hard drive at all over the fans in My Super PC - and I use relatively quiet fans! And then it just seemed that things were zipping along a little faster than before. I thought it might be my imagination so I reran the SiSoft Sandra benchmarks just to check - and, wow! - the 120GXP is faster! The details are on my Build A Computer Like My Super PC - Motherboard Benchmark Results page. Of course, not all of the "raw" performance improvement of the hard drive makes it through to the overall system performance since not all operations are bound by the speed of the hard drive, but the improvement is noticeable.
I describe how I did the
hard drive upgrade in My Super PC in great detail.
Hard drive choice should also take into consideration noise level and heat generation. The IBM Deskstar 120GXP fares very well on these criteria when compared to other top performing drives, as shown on this page of the IBM Deskstar 120GXP review and comparison done by StorageReview.
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