Help Me Choose: Hard Drive


Primary storage is where the operating system, software applications, files and data are stored on a PC. Dell offers both hard disk drive (HDD) and solid-state drive (SSD) options for primary storage on many systems. The following factors should be taken into account when deciding what type of storage option will best meet your needs:

Primary Storage Decision Factors

1. Capacity requirements.
More gigabytes (GB) mean more capacity. High-capacity hard drives help to provide your enterprise with a scalable technological foundation that can meet its changing needs.

2. The importance of the data. Sensitive data can be better protected from malicious attack by using hardware encryption. Dell recommends using a hardware-based encryption solution, such as a self-encrypting drive (SED), to help protect your data without the negative impact on the performance of your system. Dell’s SED is TCG Opal compliant and Federal Information Processing Standard (FIPS) 140-2 certified. In addition, the best ways to prevent data loss in the case of a drive failure are by configuring your system with RAID to have data redundancy on multiple drives or backing up your system to external storage.

3. Performance. System performance and boot time are influenced by the type of storage you select.

  • 7200 rpm HDD: The speed of the hard drive, measured in revolutions per minute (rpm), indicates the performance of the drive. A 7200 rpm HDD is standard performance for desktop applications.
  • Solid-State Hybrid HDD: A solid-state hybrid hard drive is comprised of a standard rotating hard drive with a negated AND (NAND) flash in a single, simple 2.5-inch form factor. Hybrid HDDs provide increased responsiveness over 7200RPM HDDs, while maintaining HDD capacity.
  • Solid-State Drive. SSDs provide the best overall level of storage performance. SSDs have no moving parts so their speed is not measured in rpm. In addition to offering higher performance, SSDs are also more durable, more reliable, and operate cooler and quieter than standard hard drives.

4. Power Efficiency.
Select OptiPlex systems enable you to choose 2.5" 7200 rpm hard drive or solid-state drives for increased power efficiency. 7200 rpm 2.5" hard drives use up to 68 percent less power than standard 7200 rpm 3.5" desktop drives. Solid-state drives use 96 percent less power than standard 3.5" desktop drives.

Most OptiPlex systems support Serial ATA (SATA) 6.0 Gb/s (formerly SATA III, a serial revision of the popular legacy ATA bus), raw data transfer rate with the first two ports; small connectors and cables, and a dedicated bandwidth and cable for each device. SATA 6.0 Gb/s delivers an excellent blend of high performance and configuration convenience.

All OptiPlex systems use native command queuing (NCQ), a technology that increases drive performance by internally optimizing the order read and write commands are executed to minimize head movement within the drive.

RAID or redundant array of independent disks is a storage technology that uses two or more hard drives to achieve greater levels of performance or data protection through redundancy. Available on select OptiPlex systems, you may choose to have your OptiPlex PC configured in RAID-0 or RAID-1.
RAID-0: Referred to as "striping," writes data across all the disks in the RAID array, improving performance. The accessible capacity is equal to the sum of the capacities of all disks in the array. However, if one disk fails in a RAID-0 configuration, data on all disks will be lost.
RAID-1: Referred to as "mirrored," writes identical data to two separate drives. This is a data backup solution. Data is not lost in the event that one drive malfunctions. The accessible capacity is equal to the capacity of the smallest drive.

The system you are configuring may or may not include all of the options listed here.

Solid-State Drives (SSDs): Dell SSDs provide exceptional system performance, durability and reliability currently unmatched by standard hard drives. SSDs are virtually silent, put off less heat and help to create a better experience for users.

Solid-State Hybrid Drives (SSHDs): Dell solid-state hybrid hard drives provide increased performance, especially for boot time and application response, over traditional 7200 rpm hard drives. Along with increased performance, hybrid drives provide the peace of mind of greater data integrity (no data separation between two drives) and design simplicity from an all-in-one form factor.

Self-Encrypting Drives (SED): Help keep your data safe by using powerful, hardware-based encryption without a negative impact on performance. The encryption engine is built directly into the drive controller; thus, all encryption is done at the full speed of the hard drive. Even the password is encrypted, so your data has an additional layer of protection whether the drive is in the system or on its own if stolen. SED drives also feature a quick and secure erase for HDD disposal or reuse. Dell’s 500GB 5400 rpm HDD SED is Opal 2.0 compliant and Federal Information Processing Standard (FIPS) 140-2 certified. A Federal Government requirement, FIPS adds protection with a tamper-resistant seal and unique encryption algorithm. The FIPS-encrypted drive can be used by anyone needing a SED and also meets the needs of Federal Government employers, healthcare and financial markets where data security is of utmost importance.

2.5" 7200 rpm Hard Drives: Power-efficient, quiet, smaller form factor 7200 rpm hard drives. 2.5" hard drives utilize 68 percent less power than standard 3.5" hard drives. Choose two 2.5" drives in RAID-0 configuration for added performance or in RAID-1 configuration for data redundancy. Using 2.5" drives, you can have up to three drives in your OptiPlex system (varies by form factor).

3.5" 7200 rpm Hard Drives: Standard desktop hard drive available in high capacities for more space to store current and future data.

If you want ...  Choose ... 
Maximum system performance and reliability128GB or 256 GB Solid-State Drive
Increased system performance500GB Solid-State Hybrid Hard Drive in either standard or high-performance configurations
Maximum capacityRAID-0 with two 1TB 3.5" Hard Drives (where available)
The latest hardware-encryption technology for the highest level of security500GB 5400 rpm SED HDD With FIPS or 500 GB Hybrid SED SSHD
Enough capacity to meet most current and future needs1TB 3.5" HDD
Data backup to ensure your data is there when you need it2nd HDD With RAID-1 (where available)

For configurations supporting Optane.

Intel® Optane™ memory is an M.2 module that can be paired to a standard hard disk drive and accelerate its performance to near SATA Solid State Drive levels. The most-used files will be stored on the Intel® Optane™ Memory for faster access, improving overall system performance. The hard drive and Intel® Optane™ Memory will be seen as one drive volume, allowing it to be used just a like a standard drive.

Requirements for Optane:7th Gen Intel® Core™ processor platforms with 7th Gen Intel Core™ Processors and Intel® Rapid Storage Technology (Intel® RST) driver (factory installed by default when Intel® Optane™ is purchased).