HotHardware Holiday Buyer's Guide 2008

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Mass Storage: Hard Drives & Optical Drives

With storage, there’s always a balance to be made between performance and capacity. Here are a few drives that we feel offer a good balance of both.

Intel X25-M 80GB SATA Solid State Drive - $525

For the absolute best performance and durability, check out Intel’s X25-M 80GB SATA Solid State Drive, which boasts fast, 225MB/s average reads and less than 1ms random access times. This drive was so impressive that we gave it our Editor’s Choice award. Although this drive is more expensive than other SSDs per gigabyte, it also offers twice the performance in comparison to some of the other drives we’ve seen.

Solid State Flash Drives are inherently fast with read performance, but write performance has historically been a major holdup. Even though some of the issues remain, Intel has been able to overcome these issues better than other manufacturers.

WD VelociRaptor 300GB - $230

For maximum speed at a more affordable price (relatively speaking), consider the WD VelociRaptor 300GB. This 10,000 RPM SATA hard drive combines a SATA 3Gb/s interface and 16 MB cache for performance that’s up to 35% faster than its older brother.  The VelociRaptor 300GB has an access time of 4.2 ms and a sustained transfer rate of 120MBytes/sec.


Seagate Barracuda 7200.11 1.5TB - $130

If you’re looking for a good balance between capacity, performance, and price, then let us recommend the massive Seagate Barracuda 7200.11 1.5TB. This 1.5 terabyte internal SATA hard drive utilizes perpendicular magnetic recording technology and delivers a sustained data rate of 120 MB/s. It’s also environmentally friendly and idles at only 8 watts. 

Of course, you can’t forget the optical drive. Today’s options include Blu-ray drives and a traditional DVD burner.

LG Electronics GGCH20L Blu-ray/HD-DVD Reader & DL DVD±RW - $130

If you jumped on the HD DVD bandwagon early, then you might be interested in this all-in-one optical drive solution that can read both Blu-ray and HD-DVD discs, and read and record DVDs and CDs. The LG Electronics GGCH20L Blu-ray / HD-DVD Reader and DL DVD±RW drive also has Lightscribe laser labeling support so you can burn labels right onto the discs. 

LITE-ON Black 6X Blu-ray DVD ROM & 16X DVD±R iHES106-29 - $129

For about the same money, you can also get the LITE-ON Black 6X Blu-ray DVD ROM & 16X DVD±R DVD Burner iHES106-29. This drive can also read Blu-ray discs, and read and record DVDs and CDs, but it does so at slightly higher speeds than the aforementioned LG drive. These speeds will cost you in terms of giving up the ability to read HD DVDs and burn labels with Lightscribe. But really, those are minor tradeoffs.

Samsung SHS223F DVD±RW Writer - $23

This no-frills drive offers speedy DVD and CD reading and writing capabilities. Write speeds include: DVD-R: 22X; DVD+RW/-RW: 8X / 6X; DVD+R DL/-R DL: 16X / 12X; DVD-RAM: 12X; CD-R: 48X; and CD-RW: 32X. Read speeds vary from 48x for CD-ROM down to 12x for DVD+RW/-RW, DVD+R DL/-R DL, and DVD-RAM discs.

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