Which Is The Better Deal – 500GB, 1TB Or 2TB Hard Drives?

Yesterday, Western Digital announced they’re shipping the world’s first 3TB hard drives. While that in itself isn’t really big news (at least not to me), what is big is that the 3TB drive uses the 4096-byte sectors instead of 512. That means it won’t work in Windows XP without additional special software. It also means that Windows 7 32-bit users won’t be able to boot from it and use a motherboard that supports UEFI (the replacement for BIOS). Oh, the times, they are a-changin’.

Unofficially, what’s classified as a "big" hard drive right now starts at 500GB and ends at 2TB. I did some math recently on what the true cost is when comparing the 500 to the 2000, and what I found is that at present the 500 is still the better deal of the two.

I’ll be using NewEgg’s current prices for a base of comparison.

500GB

7200 RPM "bare drive" cost: $55, free shipping

You pay $0.11 per gigabyte of storage. While certainly not as cheap as, say, DVDs (which are still the cheapest by a very wide lead), this is a powered hard drive we’re talking about.

1TB

7200 RPM "bare drive" cost: $70, free shipping

With this drive you pay $0.07 per gigabyte of storage.

2TB

7200 RPM "bare drive" cost: $130 + $7.86 shipping = $137.85

With this drive you pay one tenth of a cent less than with the 1TB per gigabyte at $0.069 per GB. If the shipping were free however it would six-and-a-half cents per GB.

Should price dictate what you buy?

Absolutely not.

None of the 7200 RPM 2TB HDDs on NewEgg have "5-egg" ratings. These drives tend to be more problematic than smaller offerings.

With the 1TB drives it’s the same scenario. Not a single one has a 5-egg rating.

When you go under 1TB into 640GB and 500GB territory however, you do find 5-egg ratings. Not only do people buy more of these drives but also rate them as more reliable.

Strictly speaking from a penny-pincher’s perspective, you lose money when buying hard drives under 1TB in size – but you gain something people rate as better and more reliable.

In this instance, "you get what you pay for" absolutely rings true. Fortunately you don’t have to pay that much more.

On a final note, I will answer the question of "Are there any 5-egg ratings for any 1TB or larger HDDs?" Yes, but only for the 5400 RPM versions. The 1TB+ drives when used primarily as storage have a solid track record for reliability in 5400-land. It may take you longer to copy files to/from it, but it runs cooler and does the job in fine style. I personally wouldn’t run a desktop OS on it however.

Comments

  1. editing note: you have it currently as 2TB drive = $0.69/GB – should be $0.069

    side note – i don’t think the shipping cost should be included, as you can easily pick any of these drives up from a local store with basically the same price differences – therefore, the 2TB price should actually be $0.065/GB :)

  2. Fixed, thanks.

    The retail store price for over-500GB 7200 RPM HDD’s in the US is significantly higher compared to online. A 1TB at Best Buy is $80 + tax (online is $70, no tax, free ship) and they don’t even offer a 2TB 7200 RPM at all.

    I included the shipping cost because that was the lowest price possible for a 2TB 7200 RPM on NewEgg presently. It matters because it affects the overall purchase price.

    Correction: Yes, Best Buy has 2TB drives. You’ll pay $190 for a 2TB 7200 RPM + tax. No thanks. :)

  3. Well… I’ve been running Windows 7 64-bit Home Premium from a 1TB Spinpoint HDD for 6 months now without any problems. – Am I just lucky or are there others in exactly the same situation?

  4. I use laptop and I’m a speed freak, so a seagate momentus xt hybrid drive is what I need. http://www.pcoptimizationsecrets.com/hdd-set-to-sweep-the-standard-pc-drive-market/

  5. With a limited number of drive bays in my home server and duplication turned on, I need the bigget drives I can get. Right now the sweet spot seems to be at 2tb.

  6. Nice breakdown on price vs reliability.

  7. Very informative. I can make a better decision on what my needs are and how to get the most for less.
    Thanks for the feed

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