HTPC Hard Drives - 2010 - AVS Forum
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post #1 of 16 Old 06-16-2010, 04:09 PM - Thread Starter
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I was trying to figure out what the best route would be Hard Drive wise for my new HTPC build. I have built PCs before but never a HTPC. The guide on here is great.

Noticed the other posts on the Hard DRive matter are a bit dated - mid 2009. I am building it with the idea of streaming up to 1080p, playing Blu ray down the road, Live TV as well as PVR functions(via WMC 7) and internet flash and surfing, as well as possibly some gaming(maybe down the road, may need to add a discrete gaming card for this down the road). Also plan on using this as a media/limited file server for my living room as well as other computers in the house(But won't be doing much with that).

I am building around the Intel i3 since the audio has True HD capabilities, and prices are falling - Want to future proof it a bit, and many say the i3 is a great CPU for HTPC

My question for 2010 is the general thought process/recommendations on Hard drives. Should I have a separate HD for the OS and apps, and then a completely different drive for media/files or can it all be on one - like a 750gb drive(probably the max I need). I have seen some of the low noise, low voltage ones out there, like WD Cavier, or the AV series, etc. Not sure if one of those is all I need, or should have a different drive for the os and apps.

Also wondering what I can do for RAID - Is that set up in windows, or is that a function of the drive manufacturer. If so, do I need 2 identical drives or can I mix and match. The Case I am using(Silverstone) can hold 2 3.5" drives.

Any advice and good value recommendations would be appreciated for drives would be appreciated.

Thanks
Michael
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post #2 of 16 Old 06-16-2010, 04:36 PM
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Personally, I decided on a 30gb ssd drive for Win7 and TMT3. I don't require any other software since I only use my htpc to playback BDs and record/playback OTA HD shows. I have a 2TB WD 64mb green drive drive for my media files.
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post #3 of 16 Old 06-16-2010, 04:41 PM
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You are going to need storage if you plan on using DVR functions. I run my HTPC with a WD green drive. No noticeable difference in performance IMO for most (not gaming) HTPCs, and he green drives generally run cooler and are more reliable (less heat).

The general trend seems to be using a seperate system for storage with using just what is need in your HTPC.

The other concensus seems to be to stay away from Seagate which has lost their reputation for reliability. The only thing to be aware of is the switch to the new advanced format drives with are not 100% compatible with Windows 5 and older based systems (XP, WHS, 2003 etc). Windows 6 & 7 based systems (Vista, 2008, Vail, 7) are compatible.

You will see people pushing SSDs. I think they are good option, but they are a little too pricey for my budget at this point.

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post #4 of 16 Old 06-16-2010, 04:54 PM
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If you want cheap/tons of storage/speed then a 7200 1.5 or 2TB drive. Thats plenty of space for a dvr even HD content plus since its your C: the added speed is nice and they are not that expensive now. They dont make bigger drives so its as far into the future you can get. If you want to spend more then get a green drive for storage although a 7200 still might have advantages and get a SSD like they said. Since its only for OS you dont need it big but this is overkill for an HTPC.
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post #5 of 16 Old 06-16-2010, 05:13 PM
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i used to run a 100gig partition on my 1tb WD black drive for my os and games, using the rest for program installs, with a 2tb WD green drive for storage. recently i bought an 80gb intel x25-m ssd for the os and most used programs.

boot times improved about 10 seconds and loading anything thats installed on that drive is much snappier. its great for loading maps on battlefield. as long as you have windows 7, its plug and play, but if you use an older os, you need to install an intel program that keeps the ssd optimized so it doesn't "age," slowing it down over time.

they are really starting to come down in price, i saw a special on newegg for a 64gb ssd around 140 bucks IIRC. i paid about 220 for mine.
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post #6 of 16 Old 06-16-2010, 05:42 PM
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you have to place your operating system on a separate drive (you can use anything you fancy). you will at some point need to reload your operating system, upgrade or some other issue will arise.

keep your movies separate. buy only the largest drives you can afford (WD 2 TB drives are fine).

Only buy drives as you need them (prices drop, capacity goes up)
Do not run a raid array (utterly unnecessary)

Rule #1: You haven't wasted your money...you just haven't spent enough yet.
Rule #2: When in doubt...get both.
Rule #3: No need to invoke malice when stupidity alone suffices.
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post #7 of 16 Old 06-16-2010, 05:44 PM
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I just got a 1.5 tb drive for a HTPC, 2 partitions will be on it, 1.2tb for media and 250gb for OS and apps.
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post #8 of 16 Old 06-16-2010, 07:21 PM
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One drive -- 7200 rpm, 2TB, 64mb cache, with only 100GB OS partition (C:\\), which should leave about 1.7TB for data on storage partition (D:\\).

In the future -- or now? -- you may wish to build a cheap server to handle media storage...
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post #9 of 16 Old 06-16-2010, 08:32 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by heartsurgeon View Post

Do not run a raid array (utterly unnecessary)

Agreed.

If you only need 2TB of space (or less,) I would definitely suggest the Samsung F3EG, which is $110 right now on NewEgg and $100 in-store at Microcenter. As an OS drive, I'd consider the 500GB or even 1TB Samsung F3, with prices recently as low as $40 and $65 respectively.

I started with a 2TB Seagate LP 5900RPM then tried out the Samsung when it was released, and it is absolutely my drive of choice for all future builds. My media server is currently up to 9 of them. They are the coolest running 2TB drive on the market, and easily the most reliable.

If you need more space, I'd at least double up on those, and go with a 60GB OCZ Vertex next time they're on sale at ~$110 after rebate. SSDs are pretty easily fit into cases not necessarily made to accommodate them, so only having 2x3.5" bays shouldn't be an issue. Personally I wouldn't spend more than that on your OS drive, unless you wanted to jump up to an 80GB X25-M G2, but with your needs, and other components in the mix, the $200 you'd spend on that seems unnecessary, and SSD prices are falling fast.
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post #10 of 16 Old 06-16-2010, 10:53 PM - Thread Starter
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Thanks for all the responses thus far - the answers have been a bit all over the place as far as recommendations, going with one drive partitoned, or going with a separate drive for the OS, and types. I don't think I can swing an SSD drive right now due to cost , so if I was to buy one big drive and partition it, wouldn't the low noise WD Green or Cavier not really be a good solution to run the OS off of since they are a bit slower(not good for other than media access) or am I wrong. The partitioned idea sounds like a good solution for me, and probably the cheapest route. If I do end up buying a separate OS/Apps drive, like a 250gb normal drive, can anyone make some recommondations on a specific drive models(not SSD) as I am concerned just throwing a normal drive in there for that purpose is going to be noisey for the OS drive. I am assuming the fasted speed the better.

I've read alot of people don't like the WD Green drives - not sure why.

I also came accross this WD drive that is designed for media applications:

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Produc...82E16822136496. Looks like really good reviews, but its 5400 rpm so not really a good solution for the OS.

I am leaning toward the Samsung F3 as one poster mentioned above, and parttioning it for the OS- its 7200rpm and according to reviews, runs pretty cool and quiet - Price is good too - $70 for 1Tb.

Any additional comments appreciated.
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post #11 of 16 Old 06-17-2010, 10:35 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Guitar1969 View Post

Thanks for all the responses thus far - the answers have been a bit all over the place as far as recommendations, going with one drive partitoned, or going with a separate drive for the OS, and types. I don't think I can swing an SSD drive right now due to cost , so if I was to buy one big drive and partition it, wouldn't the low noise WD Green or Cavier not really be a good solution to run the OS off of since they are a bit slower(not good for other than media access) or am I wrong. The partitioned idea sounds like a good solution for me, and probably the cheapest route. If I do end up buying a separate OS/Apps drive, like a 250gb normal drive, can anyone make some recommondations on a specific drive models(not SSD) as I am concerned just throwing a normal drive in there for that purpose is going to be noisey for the OS drive. I am assuming the fasted speed the better.

I've read alot of people don't like the WD Green drives - not sure why.

I also came accross this WD drive that is designed for media applications:

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Produc...82E16822136496. Looks like really good reviews, but its 5400 rpm so not really a good solution for the OS.

I am leaning toward the Samsung F3 as one poster mentioned above, and parttioning it for the OS- its 7200rpm and according to reviews, runs pretty cool and quiet - Price is good too - $70 for 1Tb.

Any additional comments appreciated.

The green drives really aren't all that much slower than the black or blue.

Here is a comparison.

http://www.legitreviews.com/article/1077/5/

As you can see, the blacks are much faster. But in real world applications, you are not going to really see much of a difference.

For instance, the bandwidth of bluray is at most around 50Mbits. This is equal to about 6.2mb/sec. As you can see, even a green will do 100mb/s. furthermore, even a 4x BD drive is only going to read at 24mb/s.

I have a 28mbit internet connection and I usually download at 2.5mb/s at most from the best sites.

The only real area you will see a difference that really matters is in large file transfers. The thing is... how often are you even going to see that.

Another thing to consider is that even on server on lan is going to bottleneck on the lan and not the drive.

I am sure that someone is going to say that you need something faster for encoding files. If you think about it, the CPU converting to a new codec is going to take far longer than actually saving the file to disk.

Will you see a difference between the drives? Yes. Is it worth the heat, extra energy and less reliability (green drives are more reliable)? It is up to you.

In all reality, unless you are going with SSD, the HDD speed is going to have the least impact on your experience.

HD DVD: 45 SD DVD: 350 BR: 120
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post #12 of 16 Old 06-17-2010, 11:24 PM
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OP:

I am lucky (or unlucky) to have 3 separate drives:
- 500 GB WD model "AAKS" partitioned 50 GB OS, balance for media (this was my 1st HDD 3 years ago)
- 500 GB WD model "AAKS" (added this 1 1/2 years ago for movies)
- 1 1/2 TB Seagate Barracuda (1 TB allocated to DVR)

All drives are 7200 RPM, and did well in performance tests.

Now that I am ripping BDs, I get the best performance ripping to a non-OS drive. I also compress BDs, and again, best performance is to read from one drive, and write to a completely separate drive.

Get the largest drive you can afford, and make sure it's fast (at least 7200 RPM with good performance benchmark results). Then later, add more storage if needed.

-T

EDIT:
OP: if I were starting all over again today, I'd still start with 1 drive: 2 TB @ 7200 RPM, 2 partitions (50 GB for OS, reminder for media). Don't worry about future proofing... you cannot do it. In a year or two, when HDDs drop, pick up another.
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post #13 of 16 Old 06-18-2010, 11:28 AM
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I built a somewhat minimalistic system with a 2.5", 320gig 5400rpm HDD. The system is built so there is 1 x 800rpm Sythe fan for cooling (no seperate CPU fan, no HDD fan, no PS fan etc). It's very silent compared to the multi-fan and multi 3.5" HDD systems out there. I picked that drive because that size HDD is more than enough for the OS and as a "staging area" for media yet still almost silent and cool running whereas a SSD is not enough room unless I spend what the whole system cost. I use an unRAID media server for long term media storage. The downside is that such a system will require a media server or another compuer sharing drives to store the majority of the media.

I built the whole system because I wanted a small quiet system to put on the open TV stand shelf. If I had used an Atom processor board I wouldn't have any fans at all.

Peter
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post #14 of 16 Old 06-18-2010, 01:26 PM
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one thing I dont think anyone has pointed out is that if you are using this to record TV and you have seperate drives then you have a really big issue. WMC can only record to a single drive. So if you have 2 drives then you have a lot of wasted space on your c: unless you pick a really small c: and then a bigger storage drive to record TV to. Now if you create a partition then just think ahead of how much space you might need for the c: and you will still have plenty for recorded tv with a 2tb drive. If you are thinking of 2 drives and you want the most storage then raid is a really good solution contrary to what heartsurgeon suggested. I have a raid setup in my htpc and it works flawlessly and literally doubles the available space for recorded TV. raid is not that scary and think of it this way. If the only thing you are storing on there is recorded tv worst case scenario you lose all the data? so what? its just recorded tv. Even if you create a partition you could still face data loss and the same issues regardless if its raid or not.
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post #15 of 16 Old 06-19-2010, 05:34 AM
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I'm using small-ish IDE drives for the OS. And an IDE DVD drive. Mostly 1TB WD green drives for storage. I have 4 MC systems and a WHS. 14TB storage with room to expand. Have not tried the new WD "media" drives with the 4K sectors.
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post #16 of 16 Old 06-19-2010, 09:38 AM
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Whether to have a separate drive for OS and Apps is an age-old question.
With drives as cheap as they are the decision is easier/harder depending on lots of things.
Go with the keep-it-simple strategy. I usually always think of power consumption, so fewer drives is better. And SSD is a good option. Can place OS/Apps on SSD, then divert all OS/App logging to a non-SSD drive.


Some good stuff here:
http://www.avsforum.com/avs-vb/showthread.php?t=1249127
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