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Long-Term Storage, Faster
Long-term storage has become much cheaper over the last few years. But it has also become much faster. Today's mechanical hard drives have a noticeable performance advantage over those a few years old, and the high performance hard drives have a noticeable advantage over today's budget models. A high performance hard drive will allow an operating system to boot quicker and load programs faster, but the real advantage becomes apparent when copying large files and, in the case of solid state drives, when performing random read/write operations.
The three drives listed here are great for anyone looking for a high-performance hard drive. Remember, these are high-performance drives. Price is not an object here, so it might be a good idea to scrounge for lost quarters in the couch.
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Intel's entry into the solid state drive market has been explosive. Known worldwide for their processors, the company's debut into solid state drives was not heralded by many tech websites and was expected to make major waves. Yet Intel's drives have quickly become the performance king, showing dominance over all rivals nearly across the board. Intel has reinforced that dominance by upgrading the Intel X-25M. The new Intel X-25M, known as the G2 model, has memory made on a small fabrication process.
This has several results. One is that Intel's new drives cost a bit less than the old ones. The X-25M G2 also shows a moderate performance increase in most areas when compared to the G1 model. The difference is not night-and-day, but the X-25M was already much faster than most competitors. The new model simply increases the lead while reducing the cost.
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Corsair P Series
Corsair, using its credibility as an enthusiast RAM brand, has made their entry into the market with a series of solid state drives based on a controller made by Samsung. These SSDs seems to have made less of an impact in the press than the drives with a controller by Indilinix, which is odd. The Samsung controller allows the Corsair P series solid state drives to easily blow the socks off any Indilinix based product, such as the OCZ Vertex series.
In fact, the Corsair P series drives are often competitive, and even occasionally faster, than the Intel X-25M. This appears to be most apparent in file copy tests, where the Corsair P series can beat the Intel X-25M by a significant margin. Of course, the tables are turned in some other benchmarks, most notably those dealing with multi-user loads like those found on web servers. The Corsair P series also has a minor advantage in price, although the price drop of the X-25M has made the difference extremely insignificant.
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Western Digital VelociRaptor
The sole mechanical hard drive on the list, the Western Digital VelociRaptor represents the best that mechanical hard drives can offer. And to be frank, things are looking bad for mechanical drives on the performance front. This is not to say the VelociRaptor is a slow drive. It is in fact extremely fast, beating out every other mechanical drive in nearly every test and beating some solid state drivers in file copy and read tests. It is also virtually identical to a solid state drive on level load times for games, something all gamers should keep in mind.
Yet the VelociRaptor still must spin up to read and write information, and which means it cannot hold a candle to a solid state drive during a random read/write pattern. Even in raw performance it is often beaten by both of the solid state drives on this list, particularly in file creation tests. Even so, the VelociRaptor deserves recommendation largely because of its price. It is still a better choice than sub-par solid state drives like the Vertex series, and a 300GB version can be purchased for $229, the same price of an 80GB Intel X25-M at most retailers. Again, gamers take note. While solid state drives are better performers in some areas, they make little difference in games, and you'll be hard pressed to fit all your favorite games onto a 80GB solid state drive.