High Performance PCs Need High Performance Drives

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In the early days of personal computing, hard disk drives were just a place to store our applications and files. Our requirements were simpler back then, and so were the hard disk drives. Over time, our personal computers became more powerful, and the way we use them changed.

We no longer just use them to run word processors and spreadsheets, but to edit photos, create and manipulate 3D models and even play games. This created the need for faster hard disk drives. Hard disk drive manufacturers responded by developing high-performance hard disk drives.

High Performance PCs Need High Performance Drives

Many users make the common mistake of focusing too much on CPU and graphics card performance while ignoring the performance of their hard disk drives. Today, we are going to show you why high performance PCs need high performance drives.


Higher Spindle Speed

Traditionally, hard disk drives spin at 4,200 RPM. Today, most desktop hard disk drives spin at 5,400 RPM. High performance drives achieve better performance by spinning their platters at a higher speed – 7,200 RPM or even 10,000 RPM.

The higher spindle speeds not only deliver better transfer rates, but also greatly reduces seek times – how long it takes to move from one location on the drive platter to a different location.

Transfer Rate : The speed at which files are read from, or written to, the hard disk drive. Usually measured sequentially.

Seek Time : How fast the drive head can move from one location to another location on the platter. Usually measured randomly, the shorter the better.

A high transfer rate is useful when you are copying a lot of files off the drive, or writing a lot of files to it. It also helps to load applications and games faster.

However, the greatest advantage of high-performance drives is their low seek times. The operating system and any application or game you are running will feel faster because there is less delay in the data they request from the drive (which tend to be all over the platter).


Larger Cache

All hard disk drives have a SDRAM cache that keeps a copy the latest data or the most frequently-used data from the hard disk drive. If the data requested is in the SDRAM cache, then it is instantly accessed. If not, then it has to be read off the hard disk drive’s platter.

The larger the SDRAM cache, the more data can be stored in it, and the more likely the data you are requesting is in it. That’s why high performance drives have large SDRAM caches. While regular hard disk drives have 16 MB or 32 MB caches, a high performance drive come with 64 MB or 128 MB caches.


Faster Processor

All modern hard disk drives use a small (usually ARM-based) processor to handle all sorts of tasks – encoding data, performing error correction checks, Native Command Queuing (NCQ), power management, etc.

High-performance drives boast faster dual-core processors so they can perform these tasks faster. This ensures that the raw data being read from, or written to, the hard disk drive is never delayed even under the heaviest loads.

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Performance Advantage

To demonstrate the difference, here is a comparison of a 6 TB Western Digital Black hard disk drive against the 6 TB Western Digital Green hard disk drive. Both are hard disk drives from the same manufacturer – Western Digital. The difference is the Black drive is a high-performance drive, while the Green drive is an energy-efficient drive.

High Performance PCs Need High Performance Drives

As you can see, the 6 TB WD Black drive is 32-60 MB/s faster than the 6 TB WD Green drive. That is a 36-42% boost in transfer rate. To put this into perspective, if you copy out 6 TB of data from each drive, it will take the WD Black drive just under 10 hours, but the WD Green drive will take almost 14 hours.

Now, let’s take a look at how fast they perform with small random reads and writes that happen when the drive is used by an operating system and applications.

High Performance PCs Need High Performance Drives

The 6 TB WD Black drive is 62.5% faster in random writes, and 23% faster in random reads than the 6 TB WD Green drive. The WD Black drive’s significantly better small random write performance is due to the faster processor and larger cache.


WD Black High Performance Drives

The Western Digital Black family is a great example of high-performance drives for power users and gamers who want the fastest possible hard disk drive. We have been using them for years because they are not just fast, but very reliable. In fact, we have WD Black drives that are still running more than 8 years after we first spun them up!

Western Digital offers their Black drives in both 3.5″ desktop models, and 2.5″ laptop models. They offer the following advantages over regular hard disk drives :

  • Higher 7,200 RPM spindle speed, which gives higher transfer rates and faster random access times
  • A much larger cache : Up to 128 MB for desktop models, up to 32 MB for laptop models
  • Faster dual-core processors to better handle multiple, simultaneous accesses
  • A much longer 5 years warranty for greater peace of mind

For more information, you can read about the latest WD Black desktop hard disk drives that we tested here at Tech ARP :

And here are the WD Black mobile hard disk drives that we reviewed here at Tech ARP :

It is said that once you try a WD Black high-performance drive as a boot drive, you will never want to go back to a “regular” hard disk drive. They are available in all major IT malls, so you don’t have to worry about not being able to get your hands on one for your PC!



This post was sponsored by Western Digital.


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  1. Greg Zeng

    PCs Need High Performance Drives … If the other parts can handle the speeds. The input – output with the drives and the ret of the system I only as strong and as fast as the weakest link. This speed of this link should be measured first. If we are using LAN, USB, etc, then this is often the weakest and slowest link, imho.

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