Alright, so we’re half way through October now, getting closer and closer to payday, which means that hopefully, you have some spending money left over! This Price Guide follows hot on the heels of our latest Budget Buyer's Guide. While that may seem like too many "guides" at the same time, we really view these as tools for you, the reader. Our Buyer's Guides start with a budget and we try to fit several complete systems into that budget, whereas the Price Guides focus on a specific component. We can't go into tons of detail in the Buyer's Guides without creating a bloated article, but we can look at all of the alternatives for a component here.

Be sure to check out our Real-Time Price Engine for up-to-the-hour prices and rebates on all of the products that you’re looking into purchasing, including hard drives. We’ve also updated our RTPE and have a new bot that crawls UPCs, component specifications and manufacturers' URLs. You can now search the RTPE by entering a UPC code, which makes finding products for which you’re looking faster and easier. It also notifies you of the percentage of tax that may be applicable based on the state in which you reside and how much the component costs. (Note that if you're going through a corporate firewall, the state may be incorrect.)

We have a few new updates for this weekend, including Seagate’s ninth generation 7200.9 drives that were recently introduced this past Monday. We’ve also noticed a greater number of SAS drives making their way further into the hard drive market, but whether or not they’re worth the investment is still up for debate. Let's begin with what is the most interesting segment, the SATA II/3.0Gbps drives.

SATA - 3.0Gbps
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  • Doormat - Monday, October 17, 2005 - link

    Only 120GB, 160GB and 500GB sizes available? Hopefully the rest follow shortly.. I'd like to get two of the 300 or 400GB drives.
  • ProviaFan - Saturday, October 15, 2005 - link

    I'm intrigued by the idea of SAS, but I'd really like to see a PCI-E SAS controller. Any idea when such a beast might appear?
  • Lifted - Sunday, October 16, 2005 - link

    Why would you need a standard SATA controller unless you are running a large RAID array? I don't even think there any motherboards out there that have PCI-E and lack SATA.
  • photoguy99 - Sunday, October 16, 2005 - link

    He asked about SAS, not SATA. Almost 0% of systems come with a built in SAS controller which is why he would want a PCI-E device.

    SAS could turn out to be very nice for gamers or people who want high performance.

    Right now Raptor is pretty much the only high performance choice. SCSI drives are faster but (besides the price) have complications of needing a controller, termination, and other config issues that can make them a real pain.

    SAS has the potential to let you just drop in a 15k drive no muss no fuss, and the controller still supports all SATA drives.

    So the ideal configuration for a high perf machine might be:
    1 SAS Controller
    1 Small 36 or 72GB 15k drive (blows away a raptor)
    1 300-500 SATA drive for storage

    Much faster than a raptor system, easy to install and configure, and only $200-300 more in price (not huge for an enthusiast system).

    Windows boots and game levels load *very* fast on a 15k drive.
  • Lifted - Sunday, October 16, 2005 - link

    Ahh, my mistake.

    Regarding the 15k SCSI drive for Windows XP, it's deffinitely NOT faster for general use. I have a 73GB 15k Fujitsu in my workstation at work. With bootup and general tasks it is SLOWER than the Raptor I have at home. It would be a waste of money for a home user, especially since SAS is currently A LOT slower than standard SCSI drives. 15k drives are only useful when you have many concurrent I/O's, which homes users will not have unless they are running a file server for their whole neighborhood over a Gb backbone.

    HP is trying to sell SAS on the new Proliants but I don't know anybody who has purchased them yet to get an idea of the pros/cons of using SAS in the real world. But again, since SAS is currently slower, why spend more for less?
  • ProviaFan - Monday, October 17, 2005 - link

    That's interesting to hear. I'd been told before that SCSI drives tend to be more optimized in the firmware for server tasks than for workstations, but despite that I didn't really think that a 15kRPM SCSI drive would "feel" slower than a 10kRPM SATA. Although, I'm not sure that I see where you're getting the idea that SAS will be that much slower than SCSI; I'd like to see some proof (either logical or benchmark) of that.

    Largely, I was contemplating SCSI or SAS because I thought it would bring at least a slightly noticeable improvement in "snap" over my 1st-gen Raptor. I obviously don't posses the budget for a solid state drive right now, and without doing some insane RAID setup (which wouldn't help for access time, which is what I need anyway), I don't see how there's much room for improvement of the hard disk bottleneck in my current system. For what it's worth, I have 2GB of RAM and don't find that limiting, so going to 4GB probably wouldn't help (loading Photoshop the _second_ time is plenty fast enough, so I'm convinced that my Raptor is holding me back).
  • Xenoterranos - Sunday, October 16, 2005 - link

    What's the failure rate of a 15K drive? and at 36GB, thats not gonna cut the mustard for my game drive. Right now, I'm at 42 gigs on just my games partition. True, about 15gb of that is Steam, but still, it takes 20+ gigs for Steam, Morrowind, KotOR, Galaxies, and Doom3 alone. I don't think even the 72 gig 15K drive would satisfy my needs, and I've never considered myself a massive gamer, games are just getting bigger.
  • Xenoterranos - Sunday, October 16, 2005 - link

    Wow, I didn't even realize Silent Hill 3 was 5 gigs?! But seriously, SATA is the way to go. There are so many limitations to IDE that it's a little rediculous. Raid is easier on sata, you dont have to worry about the whole master-slave relationship (my pet peve of pata) and the cables are already rounded! (ok, that was a cheap one)
  • mongoosesRawesome - Saturday, October 15, 2005 - link

    Is there really any benefit to going SATA?

    I'd say that if you are comfortable enough with PATA, pick one up at your local BB or CC. I recently picked up a seagate 160 GB hard drive for 20 dollars.
  • Xenoterranos - Sunday, October 16, 2005 - link

    But when's the expected delivery date of your mail-in rebates? Oct 2009?

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