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Help Me Choose: Hard Drives

The hard drive permanently stores and gives access to the operating system, software applications, files and data on your PC. The hard drive is the only long-term storage on your PC, so it’s a good idea to buy one with more storage capacity than you think you'll need.

Before choosing a hard drive, consider how you’re currently using your system and how you plan to use it in the future:

  • If you frequently use multimedia-intensive applications or store digital photos and MP3 audio files, you’ll want a solid-state drive.
  • If you share your PC with a family member or plan on keeping it for a few years, a solid-state drive is also the best option.
  • If you typically use your computer to browse the internet, check email, work on documents, and do light photo editing, you may want a standard hard drive.

Hard Drive

Standard hard drive (HDD)

What is it?

  • Uses moving mechanical parts to transfer data onto disks
  • Speed measured by rpms
  • Generates heat
  • Sensitive to shock and vibration, prone to damage

Benefits

  • The more hard drive storage your computer has, the more files, pictures and documents it can store
  • Higher rpms read and write data faster

Solid-state drive (SSD)

What is it?

An SSD is available in two different interfaces: SATA or PCIe. PCIe has up to 4 times the theoretical bandwidth of SATA and is supported by the NVMe host protocol.

  • No moving parts
  • Similar to flash-based memory found in USBs
  • More secure and less prone to failure
  • Fast data transfer speeds and load times
  • Runs quiet and cool
  • Consumes less energy
  • Outperforms 10,000 rpm HDDs in read/write speeds
  • Provides longer battery life and improved shock resistance

Benefits

  • Better for mobile users
  • Improved performance
  • Durability
  • Lightweight and cooler than standard hard drives

Hard drives powered through Intel® Responsiveness Technologies

Wakes fast
With an optional solid-state drive and Intel® Rapid Start Technology, your system is ready to jump back into everything you were doing before you closed your PC. Plus, you’ll enjoy ultralow power consumption in standby mode.

Thinks fast
Get fast access to your favorite applications with an SSD and Intel® Smart Response Technology. It recognizes and caches your most frequently used files, allowing you to access them right away.

Renders fast
Dual hard drives are best if you work with large product files, such as high-resolution photography or video. Using an SSD as a boot drive and a standard HDD for capacity is another popular option. You'll appreciate the extra storage with either configuration.

Multitasks fast
Redundant array of independent disks (RAID) is a storage technology that divides and replicates data across multiple physical drives. The drives operate in tandem, so they work much faster than a single drive and prevent data bottlenecks.

Recalls fast
Caching stores data for faster recall. When a CPU or web browser attempts to access data, the cache client first checks the cache. If the cache contains the requested data, the client pulls the data from the cache (this is known as a cache hit). The greater the number of requests retrieved from the cache, the faster you’re able to access the data. Because the cache accumulates data over time, it’s best to periodically clear it to manage overall system performance.

How much storage do I need?

Media Type Average file size^1 32 GB^2 128 GB^2 256 GB^2 320 GB^2 500 GB^2 640 GB^2 750 GB^2 1,000 GB (1TB)^2 1,500 GB (1.5TB)^2 2,000 GB (2TB)^2
Music 4MB per 4minute song Up to 6,200 songs Up to 31,000 songs Up to 62,000 songs Up to 80,000 songs Up to 125,000 songs Up to 160,000 songs Up to 187,000 songs Up to 250,000 songs Up to 375,000 songs Up to 500,000 songs
Video (HD) 8.3GB per hour Up to 3 hours Up to 15 hours Up to 30 hours Up to 38 hours Up to 60 hours Up to 75 hours Up to 90 hours Up to 120 hours Up to 180 hours Up to 240 hours
Photos 3.5MB per 6MP image Up to 7,100 images Up to 35,500 images Up to 71,000 images Up to 91,000 images Up to 142,000 images Up to 180,000 images Up to 213,000 images Up to 285,000 images Up to 425,000 images Up to 570,000 images
DVD-quality movies Number of 1.5hr Movies — DVD Quality Up to 6 movies Up to 33 movies Up to 66 movies Up to 94 movies Up to 133 movies Up to 185 movies Up to 200 movies Up to 260 movies Up to 440 movies Up to 560 movies

Footnotes

  1. Number of songs, images and hours that can be stored varies depending on file size, OS and loaded software applications.
  2. GB means 1 billion bytes and TB equals 1 trillion bytes; actual capacity varies with preloaded material and depending on operating environment.
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