Hard Drives and Performance

Posted on 2012-09-04
Last Modified: 2012-09-04

I am looking for some direction and detail. How the hard drive improves performance on a computer, and perhaps space and speed would have to be a factor.

For my question, I would be using a Windows 7 (64bit) computer, and 32bit applications.

Thank you,
Question by:jhieb
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    Assisted Solution

    Hard drives can improve PC speeds by the speed in which it can access the data it contains. Size generally isn't as much of an issue as it used to be.

    A standard HDD for a desktop computer has several factors influencing its speed. In no partticular order they are; cache size, disk speed, interface speed, seek time, and latency. There may be a few more, but those are the important ones. The thing to know about interface speed is your motherboard has to support the HDD speed to be able to utilize it. So, if you were to get a 6 Gig/s SATA drive and your motherboard only supports 3 Gig/s the most you'll ever hope to get out of it is the 3 Gig/s.
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    Accepted Solution

    There are multiple things to be considered when researching a hard drive.  I will go over the following, each affecting performance.

    1. Media Type- Can be magnetic media (traditional HDD) or SSD (flash memory). SSD hard drives are faster, but the cost per GB is greatly higher than a Non-SSD drive.
    2. Size- Not really performance affecting, but size is one of the main requirements to determine a satisfactory hard drive
    3. Spindle Speed- When choosing a traditional hard drive, the higher the spindle speed the faster the drive will be.  Example 5400 RPM vs 7200 RPM, the 7200 generally will outperform the slower drive.  SSD drives have no movable parts, this is not a factor for them.
    4. Connection Type-  The controller that the hard drive connects to also determines a factor in the performance of each hard drive.  An old school PATA connection cannot support the speeds that a SataIII controller can.  Connecting a SataIII drive to a SataII card will work because the Sata standard is backwards compatible, you won't receive any speed increase because the drive will operate at SataII speeds.
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    Expert Comment


    I see you have several posts like this. Maybe it would be a good idea to get to the root question. As the questions are very vague, you may not quite get the answer you are looking for. Are you having speed issues with your PC? Are you looking to build a new PC? Are you looking to upgrade components on your existing PC?
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    Author Comment

    Thank you. These answers help out a lot and they help me understand the different things to consider when looking at hard drives as part of the performance equation. I am researching different performance items for my software.

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