“ 40 Gb U6 ATA III 5400rpm hard drive. „
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My PC is proof of Darwins theory of evolution. It constantly evolves, and operates on a survival of the fittest principle - the best bits stay in, while poor parts are replaced by better ones. Little of the original system remains, and although it's still massively underpowered by todays standards it's getting better - it's latest addition is this, a 40Gb Seagate hard drive. Normally I get things second hand from auctions, it's cheaper and I can get older components that are perfectly adequate for my PC. I sell all the bits I no longer want on the auctions, so it's a cheap way to keep your PC moving in the right direction, and makes it a rather personal piece of electronics as every component was hand selected then installed. Some people like to fiddle with cars, I like to fiddle with my PC. Simple. Anyway, for once I decided a rare things was needed. Something brand new! My old hard drive had given up the ghost, and even with 3 hard drives I found lying around I could only muster a few gigs. On last count I had 1553 mp3s and quite a few cartoons I've downloaded, as well as lots of other stuff. My other PCs (the one I leave alone for the family to use) has a 15Gb hard drive and I'd filled that, so I decided something bigger was needed. Looking around 40Gb drives seemed to offer a reasonable capacity at a very reasonable price (although I'd guess the best megabyte per pound figure lies around the 80Gb range). I saw this drive for £60 (approx. £54 + vat) on ebuyer.com, thought it was a good deal, so got it. Today it's specs are lowly. It only spins at 5400rpm, unlike most new drives which are 7200rpm, and it only supports ATA100 and not the newest ATA133. My motherboard only supports the 33 version of it anyway, so I'm not missing much there, but for most peoples needs this is going to be fast enough anyway. I would imagine that the differences between the two are very small, and given the price of
this drive, I'm not complaining! The drives uses the standard IDE interface, although if you do want to make use of ATA-66 or higher you will need a supporting IDE cable. Apart from that, you just swap it with your old hard drive and plug the cables in, or add it in another bay and use it with your original drive. Seagate provide tools on their website to allow you to copy contents of other drives over easily, as well as software which offers a whole host of other features, whether it be partitioning, formatting or diagnostics. My drive was the OEM version so it came bare in a Seagate (patented) Sea-Shell device, a plastic bpox basically, that was specially designed to reduce shock during deliveries and reduce the number of drives broken in transit. It also claims to be shock proof up to 130G. Which sounds a lot. In addition the drive is housed in a rubber wrapper, which also has the job of stopping shock to the drive, and preventing damage to the circuit board (by static). All really, really useful and apparently very inventive, but basically they put it in a plastic box to send it to you, and cover it in a rubber wrapper to stop it getting damaged. The wonders of modern technology; I wonder how many geniuses it took to work that lot out! So put it in, turn on your PC, and you use it like you'd use any other hard drive. Your BIOS should auto-detect it and all you will have to do is install an OS. Unless, of course your BIOS is old and can't detect the drive due to some size limitation. That's where the jumpers come in, as well as a bit of software from the Seagate site. A common limit in older BIOS's is 32Gb (which is what mine has), although older BIOS's may have limits at a range of other places. The trick is the same with each, you change a jumper on the drive so it reports as 33Gb to the BIOS, then Seagate software loads just after the BIOS is finished, and regains the remaining space for you. I won't go
in to the fine details, but it works fine, and lets older PCs use the drives full capacity. Apart from this there are the usual jumpers for slave/master/cable select etc. In use the drive is like any other, with one exception - it is silent. It cannot be heard over the sound of the system fans, at least I can't - it makes a change from the usual clicking and whirring, although it is strange at first to hear no noise, as you can normally tell your PC is doing something if it chugs away. Apart from being silent, it's just another 40Gb hard drive. It performs well, but then so do all new drives, so that's not such a big thing. The biggest thing it's got going for it is its price, at only £60 it's a steal!
I bought the ST340810A - Seagates ATA-100 40Gb IDE 5400rpm hard drive when I was wanting to upgrade from a 20Gb Maxtor harddrive, and wanted a cheap and affordable hard drive. I paid ATS 1645 (around £75) for the drive, after having found this to be the lowest price for the drive on the consumer site geizhals.at (I get a lot of my hardware and software from places found here) from Goldadler - one of Austria's cheapest computer retailers. Obviously this isn't going to be the fastest kid on the block, being only a 5400 rpm drive (there are of course a lot of drives at 7200RPM) although funnily enough, this drive had a better average seek time that the 7200RPM model Seagate were offering with the same capacity (8.9ms average compared with 9ms average). It uses the Ultra ATA/100 interface, although there are patches available if your motherboard is only ATA-66. The drive was also very quiet - it is claimed to be one of the quietest drives on the market, I certainly noticed the difference in comparison with the Maxtor drive I was using (and that was only just over a year old...) Another innovation is SeaShield board protection which protects the PCB on the underside of the board, which the manufacturers claim is useful in helping to reduce the number of failures due to electrostatic discharge. The plastic "SeaShell" construction helps to keep this hard drive quiet, as well as offering extra shock absorbency, and the drive is practically silent (the manufactures claim about 2-3 bels noise emission), a lot better than the constantly ticking Maxtor that I had before. The installation of the drive was very easy - all the jumper settings were on a label on the top of the drive which meant no rootling around the Seagate website to try and find out what needed to be where. Connections were of course standard ( the usual 40 pin IDE drive ribbon cable) and the actual setting up and formatting of the drive was easy enough usi
ng FDISK - partitions were set and then the drive was formatted in DOS - standard procedures (No, I won't give you the command line prompts so that you can format the family hard drive!) There was no software with the drive although there is software available at the Seagate website. http://seatools.seagate.com offers free software, which is very good for diagnostic tests and includes software for making the diagnostic disk for use in your floppy drive (that's the one that takes the things other than CDs!) which is a 1.6Mb download and is something I hope to have not to use but forewarned is forearmed! All in all this represents a very good cheap upgrade and I would recommend it to people who fill hard drives very quickly as a good budget drive.