Introduction ------------ In a computer one of the least interesting components has got to be the hard drive. With a graphics card it is easy to boast how good it is with programs such as 3dmark 2001 but allthough such tests do exist with hard disks they are rarely used or talked about. AS a result most people tend to buy hard drives only on grounds of size and price and also possibly the brand. The truth is however that although the hard disk is not the most glamerous of components it is one of the most important and without which you otherwise fast computer can run at a snails pace. Important Factors and Features -------------------------------- Two factors which influence the speed of the hard disk which are easy to assertain are the spindle speed and the connection interface. The spindle speed is the speed at which the actual disk within the hard disk rotates this can range from about 5,400 to about 15,000. Personally I would not get any hard disk for a modern computer nowardays which is less than 7,200 since speeds bellow that are two slow. 2 words of warning though are that the faster disks run hotter than there slower counterparts which usually is not a problem but in some cases people would have to buy a fan for the hard disks, the other bit of advice is the faster disks are not necessarally faster because they can require a lot of processor time to operate and hence slow the computer down. The Barracuda is a 7,200 speed disk which is good and it only uses about 1% processor to run which is very low for a hard disk. One slight problem with this disk is that it runs very hot, usually in excess of 50oC in a baddly designed case, however this is not a problem for me since I have a fan pointing at me and I have an alluminium case, but even if you do not this is unlikely to be a problem because the disks is designed to run at these high temperatures. The other easily identifiable element which effects speed is the connectio
n interface. At the moment there are two real types of connection interface available at the moment for internal devices, ATA and SCSI (pronounced scuzi). SCSI at the moment still costs a fortune and with the controller card and hard disk one would expect to pay 2 to 3 times as much than for an ATA hard disk. There are three different types of connection interface available at the moment. ATA 66, 100, and 133. The number refers to the number of megabytes per second the hard disk can transfer to the rest of the computer. In practice ATA 66 is painfully slow and should not be touched with a bargepole put ATA 133 has very little motherboard support and often the hard disk are not fast enough to fill that bandwith and so I suggest ATA 100 is the optimal solution at this time which this hard disk is. Another important factor which is proboly the thing most people complain about computers is noise. In a badly built computer the loudest component is almost allways the hard disk and there is little that can be done to muffle this sound without overheating and hence destroying the ard disk. So the only real solution is to buy a hard disk that is quiet from the outset. This hard disk does not disapoint in this respect being the quietest hard disk available on the market in England at the moment producing only 2.4 bels when idle! To me this is a very important thing and one thing that makes this hard disk especially good for me. Other Good Points about the Hard Disk ---------------------------------------- Apart from the good speed and quietness mentioned above there are three other factors that make this an excellent hard disk. The first is the extreme hardiness of the hardisk. All to often people have taken there computer to a friend for a lan part only to find the disk head has 'crashed' in to the hard disk and damaged it. (This was the original meaning of a computer crash.) This hard disk can withstand an astonishing 350g's of non - operat
ing shock which is amazing concidering gravity is only 1g. Another good point about this hard disk is its large buffer of 2mb wihc ensures steady file transfers even if the disk is searching through a slow portion of the disk and hence allows very high peak transmittion rates. The final aspect which makes me like this hard disk is the price. Despite allow these special feature such as strength and quietness it is almost the cheapest for an 80gig hard disk at only £92.53 from www.komplett.co.uk. Disadvantages -------------- Allthough the disadvantges are few and far between this hard disk has some. The first is the extreme heat this disk produces, which as I have allready said is not too major. Another ting is the price which is allow cheap twice as much as the cheapest disks on the market (20gig drives at 5,400 rpm costing about £40). Conclusion ----------- Overall this is a great dirve especially if one wishes to keep ones sanity from noise and wants a fast relaible hard disk that is very strong and yet not very expensive. I at the moment would buy no other hard drive.
The Seagate Barracuda series of Hard Disks have been going for quite some time now, but they keep reinventing the hardware behind the name to keep it up with the times. Recently I bought a new 80Gb disk, after realising that my 10Gb one was simply not big enough for everything I wanted to install. So off I trudged to the Novatech website, where I purchased the Seagate Barracuda 80Gb Snowman Series hard disk, for a very nice sum of £151 including delivery. I choose it because at the end of the day, I was fed up with slow, small disk drives, so was after the fastest available for the IDE/ATA interface. And this appeared to be it. It has a sizeable 2Mb buffer, which is 4 times the size that most other drives offer. The drives spins at 7,200 rpm, with a quoted access time of 7.9ms. Again, both these seemed pretty good, as most other drives were 5,600 rpm and 8.9ms, clearly slower. I didn`t know whether I`d notice the difference, since I have no newish drives to compare it against, but I certainly can`t complain about the speed, as everything loads much more quickly than it used to (though that may be partly due to the Win2K operating system which I loaded onto it, whereas I was running Win98SE before). Also, one of the major deciding factors in my choice was the sound level. On many of my older computers, the HDD could get very noisy when it was in high demand by the system, and didn`t want to be faced with turning my speakers up louder just to muffle the sound of my new drive. No problem with this one, as it is reportedly one of the quietest drives on the market. The final deciding factor had to be the price and the brand name. I couldn`t really find any other drives with these performance figures for a similar price, plus the drive I was replacing was a Seagate, which had run trouble free with no errors for the past three years, quite impressive when you learn that about six times a year it was hurled into the back of my car for a 60 miles t
rip between home and University, along bumpy country lanes. So I was happy with Seagate`s reliability, and so far while I have only had this one for a month, it has so far proved trouble free. Installation wise it was fine. I had opted for the retail box version, purely because it made no difference to the price once I had shopped around. So it came with everything needed, a twin-drive IDE cable, jumpers, and a cradle for mounting the 3.5` drive in a 5.25` slot. It also came with a manual (read: sheet of paper with basic but not bad instructions for anyone with experience of installing internal hardware) and a CD and floppy disk with various `handy` pieces of software. But it simply plugged in, and was instantly recognised by the BIOS. Then it was just a simple matter of formatting it from a bootable floppy disk, and installing the OS. The only problem I had was that due to the BIOS that I have (Award v4.51), it was recognised as a 80Gb disk, rather it only saw the first 33Gb. Although I haven`t yet, some of the included software can be used to get around it, or alternatively I can upgrade the BIOS. Either way, the disk is working fine. So all in all I can`t fault it. It was easy to install, easy to set up, and was quick and quiet once it was up and running. I`ll update if I get any problems with it, but for now I`d totally recommend this drive (or any from the same family) to anyone.