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The Best Desktop Storage Buys for the Money

written by: John Garger•edited by: Simon Hill•updated: 5/19/2011

This year has seen leaps and bounds in terms of the storage available for desktop hard drives. Learn which storage buys are the best deals for your custom built PC.

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    Changing Role of Hard Drives

    The role of the hard drive has changed over the past 10 years or so from a place to store your operating system and programs to a multimedia storage unit that can hold music, video, and movies. The result is the need for higher capacity hard drives to store all of our toys, games, and entertainment.

    A computer and computer components are popular gifts. Th is especially true with the recent release of Windows 7 and Intel’s release of the Core i5 and Core i7 processors. This list of the Top 5 hard drives represents the best storage buys for the money.

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    #1 – Western Digital Caviar Blue WD5000AAKS – 500GB, 7200 RPM, 16MB, SATA-300

    Western Digital WD5000AAKS 500GB At the top of the list is the Western Digital Caviar Blue WD5000AAKS featuring 500GB of storage space, a 7200 RPM spindle speed, 16MB of cache, and SATA-300 compatibility. Although not the fastest or largest hard drive around, this one-half terabyte (500GB) drive is more than enough space to hold Windows 7 and all of your programs, and still have enough storage space to let you game, edit videos, and download movies without any problem.

    This drive’s 16MB cache memory is a bit low if you need maximum speed but the drive still sits well as a budget storage option. With a street price of US$54.99, this drive is more than a bargain.

    Final Analysis: 500GB storage space and US$54.99 price = 9.09GB per US$1.00

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    #2 – Seagate Barracuda 7200.10 – 750GB, 7200 RPM, 16MB, SATA-300

    Seagate Barracuda 7200.10 750GB Significantly larger than the Western Digital above, this three-quarter terabyte (750GB) hard drive is a good buy for the oney for those computer users who need more space but don’t want to spend an arm and a leg to get it. With many of the same features as the drive above (16MB, 7200 RPM, SATA-300), this storage buy doesn’t offer anything more except more space for your files.

    The magic of this drive, however, is in its price. With a street price of just US$64.99, this drive offers 50% more space with just an 18% increase in price.

    Final Analysis: 750GB storage space and US$64.99 price = 11.54GB per US$1.00

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    #3 – Seagate Barracuda 7200.11 – 1000GB, 7200 RPM, 32MB, SATA-300

    Seagate Barracuda 7200.10 1TB This list’s first drive to hit the one terabyte (1000GB) level, the Seagate Barracuda 7200.11 offers more than just storage space over its little brother above. What makes this hard drive so special is its 32MB onboard cache memory. Coupled with the SATA-300 data transfer standard, this drive can smoke the competition in terms of read and write capabilities. Choose this drive for gaming, video editing, or if you prefer not to sit staring at an hourglass mouse cursor for too long.

    With a street price of US$89.99, this one terabyte (1000GB) drive is more than a bargain and is priced similarly to its little brother above in terms of price per storage unit.

    Final Analysis: 1000GB storage space and US$89.99 price = 11.11GB per US$1.00

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    #4 – Seagate Barracuda ST31500341AS – 1500GB, 7200 RPM, 32MB, SATA-300

    Seagate Barracuda ST31500431AS 1.5TB Making its third appearance in this article of the Top 5 storage buys for the money, Seagate’s Barracuda line of hard drives is dominating the list. This time we see a whopping 1.5 terabyte (1500GB) drive coupled with many of the features we’ve already seen. A 7200 RPM spindle speed, 32MB of cache, and SATA-300 compatibility means this drive is ready to take on just about anything you throw at it. However, the real deal lies in the price.

    With a staggeringly low US$99.99 street price, this drive is the biggest bargain we’ve seen so far in terms of price per unit of storage space.

    Final Analysis: 1500GB storage space and US$99.99 price = 15.00GB per US$1.00

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    #5 – Hitachi Deskstar HD32000 IDK/7K – 2000GB, 7200 RPM, 32MB, SATA-300

    Hitachi Deskstar HD32000 2TB Making its first appearance on this list, Hitachi’s popular Deskstar series of hard drives includes the HD 32000 IDK/7K. Featuring an amazing 2 terabytes (2000GB) of storage space, this drive is one of the largest drives available for home desktop computers. Unfortunately, its other specifications are somewhat disappointing and nothing we haven’t seen in previous hard drives on this list. In fact, it is only the storage space on this drive that earned it its place as #5 on this list.

    With a street price of US$179.99, this drive is not for the budget-minded computer shopper. However, its huge storage capacity makes its price per storage unit an excellent buy should you need this much storage.

    Final Analysis: 2000GB storage space and US$179.99 price = 11.11GB per US$1.00

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    Conclusion

    In your quest for computer bargains, consider the five storage buys above if you want a lot of hard drive space but also want to maximize your price per storage unit ratio. The best buy on the list is the Seagate Barracuda 1.5TB drive (#4 above) with a storage space to price ratio of 15 to 1. At 15GB per dollar, it rarely gets any better.

    Still, you may wish to sacrifice a bit of efficiency and go with a lower-priced yet good buy with one of Seagate’s other offerings (#2 and #3 above) or go for maximum savings and get the Western Digital WD5000 (#1 above). However, if you need maximum storage space, the storage monster from Hitachi (#5 above) may be just what you are looking for.