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Hard Drive Storage
Hard drives are the main data storage for your computer. They store many gigabytes of data (billions of bytes) on magnetic plates spinning very quickly inside the casing. The reading heads are microns away from the surface, gobbling up or writing new information in the form of bits. The hard drive is the only motor-driven device in a computer, except for the fans. But unlike fans, they are very sensitive to movements, vibrations and shocks. This can lead to a hard-drive head-crash, which is as bad as it sounds. It the reading head physically touching the spinning data plate, smashing it into many small parts.
It is also limited in speed by the maximum possible speed of these spinning parts. Therefore, there is currently a race in the world of SSD, to replace this old technolgy with drives as big as hard drives, but with much faster access times.
What to Look For?
There are two (2) main form factors for hard drives:
- 3.5 inches: is the usual form factor for standard desktop hard drives
- 2.5 inches: if you've chosen a micro ATX case or a laptop, yo may only be limited to this size
- There are smaller sizes, but they are custom-made for especially small or abnormally-shaped spaces.
As you will need a lot of storage space to store 3D projects: from media files, to rendered images, audio and video sequences. We recommend you at least 2 drives of 2 to 8 terabytes (Tb) each.
Plate Speed (RPM)
The RPM is the number of revolutions the hard drive plates will spin during a minute of operation. This is the most important factor in determining the general speed and throughput of the drive. There are generally 3 different categories for consumer hard drives.
- Variable Rate
- 5 400 RPM
- 7 200 RPM
- 10 000 RPM
Server-class hard drive speeds:
- 10 000 RPM (Servers)
- 15 000 RPM (Servers)
The cache is the internal memory of the disk drive. Its serves to temporarily store blocks of data to read or write, and improves the overall performance of the drive. You should find a drive that has at least 64Mb, if not 128Mb of cache.
Western Digital is, in our opinion, the best and most reliable company out there by far, even compared to its sister company Seagate. We've been using it ourselves for a very long time and have had very few problems with them. Therefore, we recommend them for everything, all the time, to everyone.
Western Digital drives have multiple sub-brands. Here are the recommended ones:
- Green is eco-friendly but slow,
- Blue is budget value (Second Recommendation)
- Black is performance (First Recommendation)
Other drive categories:
- Red: Network-Attached Storage (NAS)
- Gold: Enterprise
- Purple: Camera Surveillance (high-capacity, but slow)
You can expect to pay a price between 100$ to 200$ for a good, high-capacity hard drive.
We recommend that you look only at Western Digital hard drives, Black or Gold edition, with 7200 RPM and 64Mb Cache.
WD Blue 2Tb (slower)
WD Black 2Tb
WD Gold 4Tb
Pro / Extra
WD Black 6Tb
Go to the 'computer hardware' table of contents:
Guide on Finding the Optimal Computer Components
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