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Inside Your Computer Part 5 – The Hard Disk Drive

Posted Thursday, April 29, 2004

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CAPACITY: Depending on what you are using your computer for, will help determine the hard drive size.

Home user with low usage - 20 to 80GB (mostly internet/word processing use)

Video and photo Editing user - 80GB plus (Video and photo scans are very large)

Gamer - 80GB plus (due to large install sizes of games)

Remember Hard Drive prices are not consistent, the difference between a 20GB drive and a 80GB drive is very low. Doubling, even quadrupling size does not double or quadruple the price. At time of writing a 40GB drive can be bought for £38 to £50 sterling and an 80GB drive is £53 to £71 sterling.

ROTATION SPEED: There two main speeds. 5400rpm and 7200rpm. We will make this simple, always buy 7200rpm. Although you may find the larger drives are mainly sold with 5400 rpm drives, it is well worth the extra (small) expense.

BUFFER SIZE: Most hard drives come with a generous size, usually 2mb or above, only buy the large buffer size (i.e. 8mb) if you are a heavy computer user.

INTERFACE SPEED: One again always buy the fastest you can get, although this can all depend on your motherboard and what it can support. To get maximum performance from your computer make sure the interface speeds match. ie buy ATA/100 IDE Hard Drive for an ATA/100 motherboard. Although the ATA/133 drive will still work, just not at that speed.

INTERFACE TYPE: Buy IDE for IDE, don't buy SCSI if you don't have a SCSI interface, or Serial ATA if you don't have a motherboard that supports it. Always check with your motherboard manufacturer, or manual for support.

SEEK SPEED: This is listed in milliseconds, so of very little concern to you the user.