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Hard Disks and Multimedia

written by: Daniel Barros•edited by: Eric Stallsworth•updated: 10/7/2009

We look at how two hard drives stack up against each other in terms of their usability for media sharing.

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    HDD Optimization

    If you were wondering, there aren’t really disks optimized for multimedia use - just ones that run better and faster than others in all areas concerned. Let’s see what happens when we pit two of the best hard drives (that give you the most bang for your buck) against one another.

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    The Seagate Barracuda LP ST32000542AS

    Price: $179.99

    There’s a reason I enjoy the Seagate hard drives so much: reliability. I had a Seagate for about 8 years before it finally gave out on me, and in that time, the drive worked at peak capacity. Its storage was only 50 Gb, but it worked well to store my Operating System and most important documents.

    This however, takes the cake – a drive with 2 Tb of storage and the longevity of a Seagate drive; it’s a match made in heaven. What wasn’t made in heaven was the price tag on this disk. Considering two 1 Tb drives will cost you less, the main idea here is that you might need 2 Tb of storage in a single place, which is rare.

    Why is this drive good for media sharing? First, we have the data storage capabilities of the drive which surpasses anything else currently available on the market. Second, the second-generation 3 Gb/s connection also provides a great data transfer rate for those large files.

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    Seagate Barracuda LP ST32000542AS Tech Specs

    RPM: 5900 RPM

    Cache: 32 Mb

    Average Latency: 5.1 ms

    Latency here refers to the average amount of time it takes for a sector of the disk to be spun into place after seeking has completed, much like golf, the lower the number of your average latency, the better and faster a hard drive will be. At 5900 RPM, a latency of 5.1 suggest a hard drive that functions at or slightly above the normal latency for a standard disk spinning at the same speed.

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    Samsung EcoGreen F2 HD103SI

    Price: $79.99

    The Samsung drives are slightly less reliable than their counterparts in the Seagate camp, but the price of admission is far, far cheaper. For those that don’t require the capacity of a 2 Tb hard drive, let me be the first to tell you that one of these drives will be more than enough to store all your favorite movies and music on a single drive, even if you download a considerable amount of HD content.

    As far as multimedia goes, this drive also gives you considerable bang for your buck. The data transfer rate of the Samsung is equal to that of the Seagate and while the drive has a bit more latency, something had to take a hit for the price of the drive to be so low. As far as 2 Tb drives are concerned, unless there’s a 1.5 Tb file you can’t split and truly need to download, you should wait until these drives come down in price.

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    Samsung EcoGreen F2 HD103SI Tech Specs

    RPM: 5400 RPM

    Cache: 32 Mb

    Average Latency: 5.52 ms

    Seek Time: 8.9 ms

    Latency here isn't too impressive, finding itself right at the norm for a drive at 5400 RPM. The interesting tidbit we're given here is the "Seek Time", which refers to the time it takes the HDD to find the actual physical sector where the information you're looking for is held, after it has found that physical sector, the latency takes over. This drive again finds itself right in a dead heat with the other contenders, but again, like I mentioned above, the real draw here is the price of the drive, it's rather cheap.