SATA - 3.0Gbps

Beginning with the 3.0Gbps SATA drives, those of you that prefer to do your own research might want to start with SATA 3.0Gbps drives sorted by Price/GB. We can see the best deals this week are mainly coming from the 250GB drives, with at least one 320GB drive at the top of the charts. Most of these drives cost around $.31/GB. With hard drives, you often get the most hard drive space for your money by going with the largest drive available, up to a certain point. The transition point is currently at around 400GB, with the 400GB drives currently priced about $0.10 to $0.15 more per GB than the 250/320GB drives.

Sure, $0.10 doesn't seem like very much, but when you're talking about 400GBs, that's an extra $40 over linear Price/GB scaling that you're shelling out, and the net difference between a 320GB and a 400GB drive is $70. That's $70 you can put towards a better, lighter case, a new optical drive, a faster CPU or GPU, or perhaps a new keyboard/mouse combo. However, if you're putting together a setup and need plenty of hard drive space (i.e., if you're looking for a hard drive for HTPC use, or something to put in a SFF system), going with a single large drive might be worth the price premium. Something from the 400, 500 or even 750GB range would work nicely.

The most reasonably priced 400GB drive we can find this week is from Seagate: the 16MB Barracuda 7200.9 [RTPE: ST3400633AS] on sale for $170 ($0.42/GB). This is the slightly older 7200.9 model as opposed to the 7200.10, so you might get slightly better performance by spending more money. If you're primarily interested in increasing capacity without seriously increasing cost, however, the difference between models isn't particularly significant.

If you're more interested in the 500GB drives, you can see that cost/GB continues to increase, though at $0.02/GB it's not a dramatic jump. The cheapest 500GB drive we can see today has pretty much the same capacity cost as the least expensive 400GB Seagate we mentioned above. Going for $215 ($0.43/GB), the Western Digital 3.0Gbps 500GB 7200RPM 16MB Caviar SE16 [RTPE: WD5000KS] is a good 500GB drive. You can also often find great prices of $200 or less for 500GB drives at some of the larger retail chains like Fry's Electronics, which is worth investigating if you're in the market for such a drive.

At the moment, we're only seeing one 750GB drive in our pricing chart. The Seagate 3.0Gbps 750GB 7200RPM 16MB Barracuda 7200.10 [RTPE: ST3750640AS] is going for about $360 ($0.48/GB). You can see from the image below that this drive has been on a steady decline since its release back in early May of this year. Considering that this is by far the largest hard drive presently available, the price/GB is actually pretty reasonable, and hopefully it will drop down to $.40/GB or less in the future.

Like we mentioned at the top of this page, your best deals are going to be had from the 250GB and 320GB categories. There are many options at practically the same price, so the ultimate decision will be left to your discretion. We'll start with the 250GB drive recommendations: priced at roughly $73 ($0.31/GB), the Samsung 3.0Gbps 250GB 7200RPM 8MB SpinPoint P [RTPE: SP2504C] is an excellent choice. Hard drives from Samsung are known for being some of the quietest on the market. Next up, you can see the Western Digital 3.0Gbps 250GB 7200RPM 8MB Caviar SE [RTPE: WD2500JS] is going for about $78 ($0.31/GB) shipped, and the 16MB version [RTPE: WD2500KS] is going for a few dollars more (or a few dollars less if you want to wait for the mail-in rebate). The Seagate 3.0Gbps 250GB 7200RPM 8MB Barracuda 7200.10 [RTPE: ST3250820AS] is also another great choice. It is currently priced at approximately $80 ($0.32/GB) shipped.

Moving on to the 320GB drives, the Seagate 3.0Gbps 320GB 7200RPM 16MB Barracuda 7200.10 [RTPE: ST3320620AS] is on sale for about $99 ($0.31/GB) and is currently one of the most attractive hard drive offerings on the market. Western Digital also has a couple of options for you in this category, the Western Digital 3.0Gbps 320GB 7200RPM 8MB Caviar SE [RTPE: WD3200JS] and the Western Digital 3.0Gbps 320GB 7200RPM 16MB Caviar SE16 [RTPE: WD3200KS]. Both of these drives are going for about $110 ($0.34/GB) shipped. The clear winner here would be the latter option as it has a 16MB cache rather than the 8MB cache of the first, so for the same price there's no reason not to get the increased cache.

As we'll explain in more detail on the next page, SATA 3.0Gbps drives are backwards compatible with SATA 1.5Gbps connections, and because most of them are newer models you often get (slightly) improved performance and features. The only real reason to go with an SATA 1.5Gbps model is if you can get a better price. Due to the sheer number of 80GB-320GB models that are available, you'll probably be better off searching our price engine directly, either by Price/GB or by lowest price. However, here's a list of all the 3.0Gbps drives that are currently listed in our pricing engine. We've included them below just to ensure we don't leave anything out.

Index SATA – 1.5Gbps


View All Comments

  • beoba - Monday, July 17, 2006 - link

    It'd be nice if, for the hard drive pages, there were a scatter plot showing capacity/price values across all drives and capacities, such that one could see trends in pricing across the different capacity tiers. (In other words: visually determine if, say, it were more economical to get a 300gb instead of a 250gb in a given month) Reply
  • Crassus - Monday, July 17, 2006 - link

    Are there any SATA-attached optical drives out on the market or is everything still PATA?

    Seems that more and more motherboard makers drop the number of available PATA connectors while adding tons of SATA ones.
  • rrcn - Monday, July 17, 2006 - link

    There are only two optical drives that I know of which use a SATA interface: both from Plextor -- the PX-716SA/SW and the PX-755SA. I wasn't aware they weren't in the RTPE, but I'll get them added as soon as possible. If I can find any others, I'll also have those added as well.

    --Haider Farhan
  • CrystalBay - Monday, July 17, 2006 - link

    I think it would be useful to add external storage and external optical storage as well... Reply
  • rrcn - Monday, July 17, 2006 - link

    We've never had a request for external storage devices, but if we receive more feedback regarding this, we'll see about getting external storage components at least added into the RTPE. Also, we try to mainly cover the basics in every one of our price guides because really, we can go on forever covering every single component out there. I cannot make any promises, but I'll pass your suggestion along and see what can be done. :-)

    --Haider Farhan
  • Whohangs - Tuesday, July 18, 2006 - link

    I would like to see external storage components on the list also. Reply
  • gofor55 - Monday, July 17, 2006 - link

    Any chance you can include notebook hard drives in this guide next time? Reply
  • rrcn - Monday, July 17, 2006 - link

    As soon as they're added into the RTPE, we'll gladly do so.

    I probably should have noted that in the guide before it went live, but I have gone ahead and done so now.

    --Haider Farhan
  • Calin - Monday, July 17, 2006 - link

    Not all DVD drives are created equal - by example, the Teac drives can not write DVD-RAM, while the LG ones can. While this is probably no show stopper for anybody, it might be nice to know beforehand Reply
  • JarredWalton - Monday, July 17, 2006 - link

    Having never used DVD-RAM, I figure anyone that needs it for whatever purpose is well aware of the fact. I use relatively inexpensive DVDRs and burn stuff at 8X rather than 16X (just to be safe), and I've used quite a few DVDR drives without problems. I think we've reached the point where it's a lot like CDR support - maybe a few people still worry about that, but for me any CDR capable DVDR drive is sufficient for my needs. Anyway, there are about 5 (or more) DVDRs in the $35-$45 price range that are worth considering. Get whichever one you fancy. :) Reply

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