Hard Drive Buying Guide
hard drive recommendations
and purchasing tips.
500+ GB 7200 RPM
320+ GB 5400 RPM
- Mainstream: 320 GB
- Budget: 160 GB 5400
What's the scoop on laptop hard
A laptop hard drives performance today is just
as crucial to any
computer as it's ever been, and if you want the absolute best mobile
experience period you are going to want to make the right decision,
this guide we are going to show you exactly what to look for so your
laptop will meet your unique mobile demands and then some.
the right hard drive type, capacity, rotational speed, and cache size
among other things will be a determining factor to your laptop's
So let's move forward
and decipher exactly what you will want to look for, shall we?
Hard Drive Details:
In today's advanced
digital world laptop hard drive storage demands are larger then they've
all you will want and most certainly need plenty of space for all your
digital photos, music, videos, software applications, and not to
mention the operating system itself.
a common application such as Microsoft Office Standard Edition demands
on its own over one quarter of a gigabyte.
We've even seen
computer games in
comparison take up over four gigabytes.
as you see capacity is something to definitely pay special attention to
when purchasing a new laptop or upgrading an existing laptop hard drive.
currently recommend at the bare minimum 160GB, however a 320GB or
preferred. 320GB is a great starting point for many of you but if you
plan on working with games, video, audio, or other storage demanding
applications now or in the future, a laptop hard drive even bigger than
320GB will be a better option.
If you are on an
budget, again we recommend no matter how basic your needs are that you
go for no less than a 160 GB hard drive. Since prices are so cheap
days it just doesn't make sense in our opinion to go for anything
Speed - Solid-state hard drive?
must for any laptop hard drive today is a fast spindle speed. The
faster the drive spins, the faster it performs overall. A drives
spindle speed is measured in (RPM) revolutions per minute. Common
spindle speeds today are 5400 and 7200 RPM.
typically recommend at the bare minimum a hard drive with a 5400 RPM
spindle speed. For small ultra-compact and thin & light laptops
4200 RPM drive is however ok because the slower motor will require less
electricity to operate thus giving you a bit more battery life. Not too
many laptops these day come bundled with 4200 RPM drives however, but
you may still encounter them from time to time.
On the other hand,
because of a fairly negligible power demand increase over 4200RPM
drives, we feel the
performance advantage to a 5400RPM laptop hard drive is a worthwhile
Just remember that as a laptop hard drive spindle speed increases so
does the drain on your laptop's battery.
you plain on working with video, audio, and especially gaming
applications, we highly
recommend a 7200RPM drive for it will be very beneficial to your
productivity. Because performance is more important with these
applications, increased battery power
demands will be a worthwhile tradeoff.
If you crave ultimate
performance there is also the option
some laptops called a solid state hard drive or SSD.
Solid state hard
don't have mechanical parts inside but instead store information on a
special type of flash memory, similar in fact to a digital camera
With a Solid-state
laptop hard drive spindle
speed is nonexistent and thus these drives are much faster than the
traditional hard drive that uses a platter spinning via a
Because there is no
mechanical components, solid state
hard drives are more durable too and so you will often see them in the
so called ruggedized laptop models offered by various manufacturers
such as Panasonic and Dell.
Because of the
lack of a motor, laptop battery life is also going to be a bit better
than with a traditional mechanical hard drive.
major drawback currently with sold state hard drives on the other hand
is that they are still limited in storage capacity and also
expensive than their
In the future we may
see a solid state hard drive or a more
advanced laptop hard drive technology as standard, but until then we
feel it is worth the price premium for these newer solid-state memory
drives, unless of course you crave ultimate mobile performance or need
the shock resistance capability that solid-state drives offer.
And before you take
the plunge and
purchase a laptop with a solid state drive we also recommend that you
perform a little research and read some reviews on the
laptop. By spending this extra time you will be more informed
will then be certain that the price premium for the SSD drive equipped
laptop will be worth the investment.
you will not always see manufacturers mention buffer size when you are
laptop shopping, knowing a bit about buffer/cache size is important
because you will encounter cache size if upgrading a laptop hard drive
and not to mention you will also be fully prepared to make a decision
on hard drive cache size if ever encountered in the first place.
aren't going to get too technical, but a hard drive cache is a small
chunk of memory in the hard drive that stores program instructions for
faster access. Basically data is fetched off the slower mechanical
spinning platters and stored in the cache/buffer where it can be
accessed much faster. This is similar to the way an Intel processor
cache works. Keep in mind that cache is also often referred to as a
We recommend you look
laptop hard drive with at least an 8 MB cache these days, though if
available remember more is always better when speaking of caches.
you've seen in this laptop hard drive guide, making the right
is going to be easier than you may have imagined. Just remember your
specific needs first and foremost, plan with the future in mind for you
never know what the software demands will be then or even how your own
demands will change, and if necessary go with your gut feeling.
buying any laptop or desktop computer we like to plan for at least 3
years into the future when choosing features. We say 3 years because
often it is then that current technology has far surpassed your
So in a nutshell
remember that a faster spindle/rotation speed will trade off battery
runtime for better overall performance, a larger cache/buffer is
better, and more storage capacity will mean plenty of space for current
and future storage demands.
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