Computer Builders Guide: SSDs and Hard Drives

Each part of your computer is integral to its performance and finding the perfect kit for you is always a challenge. However, when accomplishing different workflows we may need a better processor or graphics card to cope with the workload we’ll be putting on our machines. Something which is just as important for performance, but often overlooked, is the hard drive or SSD.

These help store everything we do and need to be right for how much space we need. Whilst there may not be a specific size that everyone needs, you’ll still need to see what’s best for you. Read on to find out if your current hard drive is worth upgrading.

Hard Drives

With hard drives, it’s often easy to understand the specifications with speed [RPM] and size being the important values which affect the price of your kit. As you can probably guess higher GB or faster speed increases the price further.

At Windows.Appstorm, we know that a lot of people can’t go straight out and buy all the most expensive kit. Because of this we’ve split this section into three different categories.

All prices and links will go to Amazon, you may be able to find this hardware cheaper elsewhere though.

Beginner

Western Digital Caviar Blue 500GB

For this section of the guide, I’ve picked relatively lower priced hard drives, and because of this you aren’t going to get massive amounts of space. The first that I’ll be looking at is the Western Digital Caviar Blue. With a capacity of 500GB, you may struggle to fit everything on it if you are a computer gamer or video editor. However, if you’re only using your computer for tasks such as word processing or web browsing you shouldn’t be buying any more than 500GB.

Western Digital Caviar Blue

Of course, costing a mere £44.97, you aren’t going to get a wealth of added features. This hard drive is really the bare minimum. Other specifications include a SATA III 6GB/s speed and 16MB cache buffer. The 6GB/s relates to the speed at which it can transfer data while the cache of a hard drive, in very layman’s terms, is the limit of how much it can handle at any one time. Bigger cache normally contributes to snappier performance.

Amazon Price: £44.97


Samsung F3 HD103SJ 1TB

If 500GB is too small and your budget can go up just a little but, you could go with the Samsung HD103SJ. This hard drive possesses a capacity of 1TB which is about the standard unless you’re going to be saving high capacity files frequently. You also get double the amount of cache buffer with 32MB worth of space.

Samsung F3 HD103SJ

One thing to also bear in mind when buying hard drives is the RPM speed. On modern hard drives, this value will be 7200 the majority of the time — some higher end models reach the 10,000 mark though. Because of this generic value most are exactly the same speed so you won’t have to worry about this that much.

Holding up to 1TB of files makes this Samsung hard drive great for the low price of £59.45.

Amazon Price: £59.45

Intermediate


Western Digital 2TB Green

As you’ll soon begin to tell, the difference between price bands isn’t that much. With other pieces of kit you’ll find the difference to be hundreds of pounds — while the difference here may only be £20.

Now that we’ve passed up a price range, we now reach the even higher storage limits. Here we have the 2TB Western Digital Green — a hard drive which definitely has enough space for anyone. This again possesses SATA III 6GB/s speed, giving it fast performance at all times.

Western Digital 2TB Green

However, this hard drive has more than meets the eye and that concerns the “green” element. Firstly, for people who aim to conserve power and save money, the WD GreenPower Technology allows for very low energy consumption. The other thing this accounts for is quiet performance. No one wants a loud computer and this is a technology which will definitely make your experience quieter.

The Western Digital 2TB Green is a reasonably priced hard drive which had some desirable extra features — a reliable buy.

Amazon Price: £74.99


Seagate Barracuda 3.5 inch 2TB

Here we see SATA III again, but, the differences start appearing when we look at cache size. This hard drive holds a capacity of 64MB — which is a massive amount and in turn makes this a product which is at the top end of its class.

Seagate Barracuda 2TB

Throughout my computer building experience, I have experimented with a number of different drives and since upgrading to this Barracuda I’m never going to pick any other brand. The professionalism of these drives always seems a step above the rest and at this point I haven’t been disappointed.

Amazon Price: £78.00

Advanced

For the advanced section of the review, I’m just going to cover the 3TB versions of hard drives I’ve already covered. This is because in the market there is nothing which is comparable to the price and class of these two brands. 3TB is the highest possible on consumer internal hard drives and is only really required for some types of people.

The two I’m choosing are the:

Seagate 3.5 inch 3TB Barracuda Desktop Hard DriveAmazon Price: £104.57

“Western Digital Caviar 3TB Green” Amazon Price: £114.19

Both of these are superb in their own right and will more than make up for your massive capacity needs.

SSDs

An SSD is a piece of hardware which has become desirable to consumers. This device has no moving parts, the main difference from a typical hard drive, and is built completely for storage/memory. SSD’s store data even when your computer is turned off and saves files which cause your computer to slow down. Users with SSD’s normally experience much faster start up times.

Here I picked two SSDs which have the lowest amount of space possible — 120GB. That being said, both have options to increase the storage to 240GB or even 480GB on the San Disk.

Corsair 120GB Neutron Series GTX

The more expensive of the two is the Corsair Neutron. This is specifically built for SATA III systems (will support SATA I and II though) and [## what?]runs to fast level with reads speeds which are high [??] . However, for an entry level SSD this isn’t a cheap purchase — if you have the extra money then this probably should be your choice.

Corsair 120GB Neutron Series GTX

Amazon Price: £112.18

SanDisk SDSSDX-120G-G25 120GB

Going down the price grading we have the SanDisk model which costs £73.38. Which when looking at the stats, which are similar to the Corsair, this a very reasonable purchase. The read speed of this SSD is 5550MB/s and a write speed of 510MB/s. These are both high stats which will allow your general computing experience to run much faster through everyday activities.

SanDisk SDSSDX-120G-G25

Amazon Price: £73.38

Wrap Up

Hard drives need to be right for you. As you can tell by this guide, the differences between different brands are often very subtle. Before buying you’ll need to weigh up how much space you actually need and then buy appropriately.

Thanks for reading! Let us know what you think below.


  • Patrick

    If you can’t express yourself clearly, don’t try to be a writer.

    The writing in this article is terrible. Awkward wording, repetitive phrases, and mis-used words in almost every sentence. How did this mess make it through the editorial process?

    “and [## what?]runs to fast level with reads speeds which are high [??] .”

    Well, judging from the above unmodified quote from the article, which appears to contain editorial notes left in the published version, the editor didn’t have a clue what you were trying to say either. I can only assume that they became so depressed trying to interpret this literary abomination that they just stopped caring and published it so they wouldn’t have to look at it any more.

    This author has unfortunately been quite prolific, although all of his “articles” (I’m not sure if they really merit that name) seem to suffer from the same problems. I can only conclude that the standards for getting published on this site are extremely low – if you can crank out some barely-comprehensible copy text, they’ll publish it just to grab a few extra views.

    It’s sad, because there are some decent authors on this site who produce useful (and readable) articles. This author lets down the other contributors to this site. I honestly think that the site and its readers would be better off if this borderline-illiterate “author” just gave up and stopped trying to write.

    • Spetz83

      I agree with the above. Kind of ridiculous. Also, the article just doesn’t make any sense. HDD are categorized as Beginner, Intermediate, and Advanced solely based on capacity?

      The author also claims that he picked 2 SSDs with the lowest available capacity (120gb) which is not true. There are plenty of SSDs that have lower capacity. 64gb SSDs are super common in PC builds. Also, why did you pick the lowest capacity drives? And why did you choose to talk about two low grade drives as well?

      If you are going to post a guide you should really know what you are talking about first.

  • Chris Honey

    I’ve recently upgraded to the Seagate Momentus XT and it really has been the best of both worlds! My speeds are unbelievable yet I still have 750GB of storage space! I believe a review is in order

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