Choosing A Hard Drive For Your Computer

By Samuel Wilson

Hard drives play a very important role within a computer, it’s responsible for storing your operating system (Windows Mac, Linux, etc), your installed programs, and all of your files (data). There are several types of hard drives available at the moment, and most modern consumer hard drives use a SATA interface running at 6.0Gb/s (also known as SATA III), to connect to the motherboard.

This interface (SATA III)can support up to 600MB per second of data transfer at any given point, this can be classified as throughput. SATA III is backwards compatible with SATA II (3Gb/s) and SATA I (1.5Gb/s), however the throughput will be reduced to whatever speed that particular SATA interface can support. Older SATA interfaces transfer data at a slower rate.

More times than not, you will typically encounter mechanical hard drives being used over Solid State Hard drives (SSD) and Solid State Hybrid Drives (SSHD). The reason being, mechanical hard drives are much cheaper per gigabyte than the other drives and mechanical hard drives are also available in larger capacities.

When selecting a hard drive, you need to make sure that it’s large enough to store all of your files (data). Due to the advancements in technology, speed and storage capacity have increased while prices for storage have decreased. It’s very affordable to have a 1TB (1,000GB) or more internal hard drive without breaking the bank.

Mechanical hard drives speeds vary, but the most common speeds are 5400, 7200, and 10,000 RPM. You will most likely end up utilizing a 7200 RPM drive for general home computing, it provides a good balance between speed capacity, and price. These reasons, make these hard drives perfect for budget builds and many mid-sized builds as well.

A 10,000 RPM hard drive will offer better performance than a lower RPM hard drive, however they are more expensive and are usually offered in lower size capacities. A 10,000 RPM hard drive may be a good choice when added speed and performance is desired; some mid-range and high-end builds can benefit from these types of hard drives.

If there’s additional room in your budget, you can opt for a solid state drive (SSD) instead of a mechanical hard drive. They don’t have any moving parts and they can transfer data at much higher speeds. Your computer will be able to operate much faster as result. A SSD, will make a noticeable difference in the computer’s response time as you navigate it. The downfall to solid state drives are their capacity and price. If you want a higher capacity SSD, it’s going to be very expensive at the moment. The good news is this is all changing, companies are going to be offering large capacity solid state drives (more than 2TB 2000GB) later this year (2016) at an affordable price. These types of advancements in SSD technology, will help drive down the cost of this type of storage and will make it easier to use this technology in more applications.

Ideally, if the funds are there you can increase the performance of your machine by purchasing a lower capacity solid state drive (SSD), that will solely be used for your operating system (OS) and necessary programs. You can then store your music, movies, games, and other files on a separate high capacity mechanical hard drive. Transcend offers quality affordable SSD’s that can fit your various build types (

If you can’t spring for a SSD, you could choose a Solid State Hybrid Drive (SSHD) instead. These hard drives (SSHD) offer some of the features of a solid state drive (SSD) such as added speed, but within the confines of a mechanical hard drive. This will give you faster speeds over a typical mechanical hard drive and give you the added storage capacity without breaking the bank. Seagate, offers quality SSHD’s along with mechanical hard drives, which are available in various speeds, capacities, and use cases, all at an affordable price (

When you’re selecting a hard drive, you have different options depending on your specific needs and budget, so make sure you carefully weigh these options before making your purchase. If your budget doesn’t allow you to pick the “perfect setup” right now, just choose an option that fully meets your needs at this point in time. That might end up being just one hard drive total, instead of a SSD for the OS and then a mechanical drive for your other files. As time goes on, you can upgrade when the additional funds become available. Stayed tuned, as I discuss how to select a computer case (tower) for your build. Additional information is available at