The Best SSDs and the Best Hard Drives For Your Money: August 2014

| August 4, 2014 | (3)

Updated on August 4th 2014

The new fastest 2.5" SSD: The Samsung 850 Pro

The new fastest 2.5″ SSD: The Samsung 850 Pro

The Best SSDs and the Best Hard Drives For Your Money:

How do I decide which drives are the best at a given price?

It’s simple: I recommend the drives that offer the best combination of reliability, performance and highest storage capacity at a given price.

If you have the time to do research… but who does in this busy world?

I do realize that not everyone has the time to read detailed SSD / HDD reviews nor does everyone can make sense of their complex specifications.

This is why I write this guide for you: To help you save your time, sanity and money by letting you know what are the best SSD / HDD for your money.

Keep in mind:
1. This list is based on the best prices from B&H, NewEgg and/or Amazon that I’ve seen on August 4th 2014. Prices and availability change all the time. While I can’t keep up with ever changing prices, I can suggest to you great drives that you won’t regret buying.
2. All prices are based on new drives prices, no used/open box drives are listed; they might be a good deal but come with trade offs such as limited return policy, limited warranty, etc.

This article is in three parts:

1. The Best Solid State Drives (SSDs) For Your Money.
2. The Best Hard Disk Drives (HDDs) For Your Money.
3. RAID 0,1,5 and 10: A quick and easy summary.

The Best SSDs For Your Money:

SSD FAQ:

If you wondering “Who are SSDs for?”, if you want a quick recap on what a SSD is, wonder about reports of SSDs slowing down over time or want to learn more about TRIM and/or TRIM with RAID, I invite you to read our SSD FAQ.

What size should I get for my SSD?
Common sizes are: 120/128GB, 250/256GB, 500/512GB and 960GB/1TB.

I recommend leaving about 20% of your SSD unused, to keep its performance high.

  • 120GB: Good for the OS and some programs/games with a bit of music. Another drive for additional storage is usually a must.
  • 250GB: Good choice for a some programs, some games, some music files and some TV shows/movies. Another drive for additional storage is highly recommended, especially if you have a lot of TV/movies, even more so in HD.
  • 500GB: Great for many programs, games, your music collection and some TV shows/movies. Another drive for additional storage can be useful for HD content.
  • 1TB: Best option if your SSD is your only drive and have many programs, games, a music collection and High-definition TV shows/movies. Another drive for additional storage isn’t necessary, unless you have a vast collection of HD content.

Note that you can save some space by moving “My Documents” to another drive. One of our forums members, mwhals, posted a great tutorial on how to do so on the Hardware Revolution forums.

SSD Failure Rates:

From Marc Prieur, of hardware.fr, here are the SSDs failures rates according to a French e-tailer as of April 2014:
- Samsung 0,54%
- Sandisk 0,70%
- Kingston 0,72%
- Intel 0,90%
- Corsair 0,91%
- Crucial 1,08%
- OCZ 5,66%

The failure rates are based on parts sold between April 1st 2013 and October 1st 2013, for returns before April 2014, which represents 6 months to one year of usage. The statistics per brand are based on a sample of at least 500 sales.

Do note that although these numbers don’t paint the complete picture of world wide failure rates, but they are still an interesting sample to look at.

All hard drives and all SSDs are prone to failure though, which is why you should Have a Backup System that you can rely on!

Best SSD for $75:

Crucial MX100 128GB

- $73.99 at Amazon
- $76.24 at B&H (International Shipping)

  • Price: $73.99
  • Capacity: 128GB
  • Price per GB: $0.58/GB
  • Warranty: 3 years
  • Includes a 2.5″ to 3.5″ bracket adapter? No.

At $74, this is the least expensive SSD that I recommend.

Recommended if you want a reliable 128GB SSD with good performance (for a SSD, far better than a hard drive) at a very low price.

If you’re looking for a SSD to upgrade an older machine, or simply to host the OS along with a few important applications/games, at a minimum cost, this is my recommendation.

It does not includes a 2.5″ to 3.5″ bracket adapter, so if you want to use it in a desktop, make sure that either your case supports 2.5″ drives or get a 2.5″ to 3.5″ bracket adapter for $5 at B&H (International Shipping).

mSATA alternative: Crucial M500 120GB
If you want a reliable SSD with good performance in the mSATA form factor, the Crucial M500 120GB SSD is the best choice in my opinion. It’s considerably less expensive than the Samsung 840 EVO and not that much slower.
- $74.99 at Amazon
- $75.99 at B&H (International Shipping)

Best SSD for $110:

Crucial MX100 256GB

- $108.99 at Amazon
- $114.99 at B&H (International Shipping)

  • Price: $108.99
  • Capacity: 256GB
  • Price per GB: $0.43/GB
  • Warranty: 3 years
  • Includes a 2.5″ to 3.5″ bracket adapter? No.

At $109, this is the least expensive 256GB SSD that I recommend, at only $0.43 per GB.

Recommended if you want a reliable 256GB SSD with good performance (for a SSD, far better than a hard drive) at a very low price.

It does not includes a 2.5″ to 3.5″ bracket adapter, so if you want to use it in a desktop, make sure that either your case supports 2.5″ drives or get a 2.5″ to 3.5″ bracket adapter for $5 at B&H (International Shipping).

mSATA alternative: Crucial M500 240GB
If you want a reliable SSD with good performance in the mSATA form factor, the Crucial M500 240GB SSD is the best choice in my opinion. It’s considerably less expensive than the Samsung 840 EVO and not that much slower.
- $119.99 at Amazon
- $119.99 at B&H (International Shipping)

Best SSD for $130:

Samsung 850 Pro 128GB

- $129.99 at Amazon
- $129.99 at B&H (International Shipping)

  • Price: $129.99
  • Capacity: 128GB
  • Price per GB: $1.02/GB
  • Warranty: 10 years
  • Includes a 2.5″ to 3.5″ bracket adapter? No.

The Samsung 850 Pro is the fastest 2.5″ SSD available on the market right now. It offers top-notch reliability and a 10 years warranty.

Recommended if you want the fastest 128GB 2.5″ SSD.

It does not includes a 2.5″ to 3.5″ bracket adapter, so if you want to use it in a desktop, make sure that either your case supports 2.5″ drives or get a 2.5″ to 3.5″ bracket adapter for $5 at B&H (International Shipping).

Best SSD for $170:

Sandisk Extreme Pro 240GB

- $172 at Amazon
- $196.99 at B&H (International Shipping)

  • Price: $172
  • Capacity: 240GB
  • Price per GB: $0.72/GB
  • Warranty: 10 years
  • Includes a 2.5″ to 3.5″ bracket adapter? No.

Offering higher performance than the Crucial MX100 and the Samsung 840 EVO, as well as a longer 10 years warranty, the Sandisk Extreme Pro is an excellent choice if you want higher performance and/or a longer warranty without spending even more on the higher performance Samsung 850 Pro.

Recommended if you want a reliable and high performance 240GB SSD at a great price.

It does not includes a 2.5″ to 3.5″ bracket adapter, so if you want to use it in a desktop, make sure that either your case supports 2.5″ drives or get a 2.5″ to 3.5″ bracket adapter for $5 at B&H (International Shipping).

Best SSD for $200:

High capacity: Crucial MX100 512GB

$211.99 at Amazon
$214.99 at B&H (International Shipping)

  • Price: $211.99
  • Capacity: 512GB
  • Price per GB: $0.41/GB
  • Warranty: 3 years
  • Includes a 2.5″ to 3.5″ bracket adapter? No.

If you value higher capacity over higher performance (ssd wise), the Crucial MX100 is what you want.

At $212, this is the least expensive 512GB SSD that I recommend, at only $0.41 per GB.

Recommended if you want a reliable 512GB SSD with good performance (for a SSD, far better than a hard drive) at a very low price.

It does not includes a 2.5″ to 3.5″ bracket adapter, so if you want to use it in a desktop, make sure that either your case supports 2.5″ drives or get a 2.5″ to 3.5″ bracket adapter for $5 at B&H (International Shipping).

mSATA alternative: Crucial M500 480GB
If you want a reliable SSD with good performance in the mSATA form factor, the Crucial M500 480GB SSD is the best choice in my opinion. It’s considerably less expensive than the Samsung 840 EVO and not that much slower.
- $229 at Amazon
- $229 at B&H (International Shipping)

High performance: Samsung 850 Pro 256GB

$199.99 at Amazon
$199.99 at B&H (International Shipping)

  • Price: $199.99
  • Capacity: 256GB
  • Price per GB: $0.78/GB
  • Warranty: 10 years
  • Includes a 2.5″ to 3.5″ bracket adapter? No.

If you value higher performance over an higher capacity, the Samsung 850 Pro is what you want.

Offering top-notch performance and top-notch reliability, the Samsung 850 Pro is the fastest 2.5″ SSD, comes with a 10 years warranty and at $199.99 for 256GB, it’s also an excellent deal for such high performance.

It does not includes a 2.5″ to 3.5″ bracket adapter, so if you want to use it in a desktop, make sure that either your case supports 2.5″ drives or get a 2.5″ to 3.5″ bracket adapter for $5 at B&H (International Shipping).

Best SSD for $350:

Sandisk Extreme Pro 480GB

$335.00 at Amazon
$399.99 at B&H (International Shipping)

  • Price: $334.99
  • Capacity: 480GB
  • Price per GB: $0.70/GB
  • Warranty: 10 years
  • Includes a 2.5″ to 3.5″ bracket adapter? No.

Offering higher performance than the Crucial MX100 and the Samsung 840 EVO, as well as a longer 10 years warranty, the Sandisk Extreme Pro is an excellent choice if you want higher performance and/or a longer warranty without spending even more on the higher performance Samsung 850 Pro.

Recommended if you want a reliable and high performance 240GB SSD at a great price.

It does not includes a 2.5″ to 3.5″ bracket adapter, so if you want to use it in a desktop, make sure that either your case supports 2.5″ drives or get a 2.5″ to 3.5″ bracket adapter for $5 at B&H (International Shipping).

Best SSD for $400:

High capacity: Samsung 840 EVO 1TB

$431.99 at Amazon
$499.99 at B&H (International Shipping)

  • Price: $431.99
  • Capacity: 1000GB (1TB)
  • Price per GB: $0.43/GB
  • Warranty: 3 years
  • Includes a 2.5″ to 3.5″ bracket adapter? No.

If you value higher capacity over higher performance (ssd wise), the Samsung 840 EVO 1TB is what you want.

At $432, this is the least expensive 1TB (1000GB) SSD that I recommend, at only $0.43 per GB.

Recommended if you want a reliable 1TB SSD with good performance (for a SSD, far better than a hard drive) at a very low price.

It does not includes a 2.5″ to 3.5″ bracket adapter, so if you want to use it in a desktop, make sure that either your case supports 2.5″ drives or get a 2.5″ to 3.5″ bracket adapter for $5 at B&H (International Shipping).

mSATA alternative: Samsung 840 EVO 1TB mSATA
If you want the Samsung 840 EVO 1TB, but in the mSATA form factor, here it is:
- $481.99 at Amazon
- $499.99 at B&H (International Shipping)

High performance: Samsung 850 Pro 512GB

$399.99 at Amazon
$399.99 at B&H (International Shipping)

  • Price: $399.99
  • Capacity: 512GB
  • Price per GB: $0.78/GB
  • Warranty: 10 years
  • Includes a 2.5″ to 3.5″ bracket adapter? No.

If you value higher performance over an higher capacity, the Samsung 850 Pro is what you want.

Offering top-notch performance and top-notch reliability, the Samsung 850 Pro is the fastest 2.5″ SSD, comes with a 10 years warranty and at $399.99 for 512GB, it’s also an excellent deal for such high performance.

It does not includes a 2.5″ to 3.5″ bracket adapter, so if you want to use it in a desktop, make sure that either your case supports 2.5″ drives or get a 2.5″ to 3.5″ bracket adapter for $5 at B&H (International Shipping).

Best SSD for $550:

Sandisk Extreme Pro 960GB

$545 at Amazon
$569.99 at B&H (International Shipping)

  • Price: $545
  • Capacity: 960GB
  • Price per GB: $0.57/GB
  • Warranty: 10 years
  • Includes a 2.5″ to 3.5″ bracket adapter? No

Offering higher performance than the Crucial MX100 and the Samsung 840 EVO, as well as a longer 10 years warranty, the Sandisk Extreme Pro is an excellent choice if you want higher performance and/or a longer warranty without spending even more on the higher performance Samsung 850 Pro.

Recommended if you want a reliable and high performance 960GB SSD at a great price.

It does not includes a 2.5″ to 3.5″ bracket adapter, so if you want to use it in a desktop, make sure that either your case supports 2.5″ drives or get a 2.5″ to 3.5″ bracket adapter for $5 at B&H (International Shipping).

Best SSD for $700:

Samsung 850 Pro 1024GB (1TB)

$699.99 at Amazon
$699.99 at B&H (International Shipping)

  • Price: $700
  • Capacity: 1024GB (1TB)
  • Price per GB: $0.68/GB
  • Warranty: 10 years
  • Includes a 2.5″ to 3.5″ bracket adapter? No

The Samsung 850 Pro is the fastest 2.5″ SSD available on the market right now. It offers top-notch reliability and a 10 years warranty.

Recommended if you want the fastest 1TB 2.5″ SSD.

It does not includes a 2.5″ to 3.5″ bracket adapter, so if you want to use it in a desktop, make sure that either your case supports 2.5″ drives or get a 2.5″ to 3.5″ bracket adapter for $5 at B&H (International Shipping).

Updating the SSD firmware

Recommended to get the latest bug fixes and the best performance possible out of your SSD.

Before you start using your SSD, I strongly urge you to double-check for an update to the SSD’s firmware, in order to get the latest bug fixes and the best performance. Make sure to read the instructions available on each update page, in order to understand how to properly update the firmware.

Some SSDs have newer firmware available than the one that they are shipped with, so make sure to double-check your SSD’s firmware version and to update it if’s not the latest.

If you update your SSD’s firmware after starting to use it, make sure to backup your data beforehand, as something could go wrong during the update process and you could lose the data on the SSD.

If you have questions regarding firmware updates, contact the manufacturer or visit their support forums.

To find the latest firmware for your SSD, simply visit the manufacturer’s website, find your SSD and look for the latest firmware. Instructions on how to update the firmware should be found on the same page, or in a link to a .pdf file.

The Best Hard Drives For Your Money

Hard Drive Failure Rates:

From Marc Prieur, of hardware.fr, here are the hard drives failures rates according to a French e-tailer as of April 2014:

  1. Seagate 0.86%
  2. Toshiba 1.02%
  3. Hitachi 1.08%
  4. Western Digital 1.13%

The failure rates are based on parts sold between April 1st 2013 and October 1st 2013, for returns before April 2014, which represents 6 months to one year of usage. The statistics per brand are based on a sample of at least 500 sales.

Do note that although these numbers don’t paint the complete picture of world wide failure rates, but they are still an interesting sample to look at.

All hard drives and all SSDs are prone to failure though, which is why you should Have a Backup System that you can rely on!

The Best Hard Drives For Your Money:

Prices as of August 4th 2014:

3.5″ Hard Drives:

High performance 7,200rpm hard drives:

500GB Hard Drives:

  1. Seagate 500GB 7200rpm ST500DM002: $48.45 at Amazon (USA) or $48.45 at B&H (International Shipping) – Less expensive and faster than other alternatives, the Seagate Barracuda 500GB 7200rpm ST500DM002 is the way to go if you want a fast reliable 500GB hard drive.

1TB Hard Drives:

  1. Seagate ST1000DM003 1TB 7200rpm: $52.92 at Amazon (USA) or $54.99 at B&H (International Shipping) - 2nd fastest alternative at a much lower price than the fastest (WD Caviar Black), the Seagate Barracuda 1TB 7200rpm ST1000DM003 is the way to go if you want a fast reliable 1TB hard drive without paying a premium.
  2. Western Digital Caviar Black WD1003FZEX 1TB 7200rpm: $79.19 at Amazon (USA) or $74.50 at B&H (International Shipping) - If you want the fastest 1TB hard drive on the market and/or a longer 5 years warranty.

2TB Hard Drives:

  1. Seagate ST2000DM001 2TB 7200rpm: $83.50 at Amazon (USA) or $83.50 at B&H (International Shipping) – 2nd fastest alternative at a much lower price than the fastest (WD Caviar Black), the Seagate Barracuda 2TB 7200rpm ST2000DM001 is the way to go if you want a fast reliable 2TB hard drive without paying a premium.
  2. Western Digital Caviar Black WD2003FZEX 2TB 7200rpm: $136 at Amazon (USA) or $136 at B&H (International Shipping) – If you want the fastest 2TB hard drive on the market and/or a longer 5 years warranty.

3TB+ Hard Drives:

  1. Seagate ST3000DM001 3TB 7200rpm: $101.98 at Amazon (USA) or $102.99 at B&H (International) – 2nd fastest alternative at a much lower price than the fastest (WD Caviar Black), the Seagate Barracuda 3TB 7200rpm ST3000DM001 is the way to go if you want a fast reliable 3TB hard drive without paying a premium.
  2. Western Digital Caviar Black WD3003FZEX 3TB 7200rpm: $179.99 at Amazon (USA Shipping) or $179.99 at B&H (International Shipping) – If you want the fastest 3TB hard drive on the market and/or a longer 5 years warranty.
  3. Western Digital Caviar Black WD4003FZEX 4TB 7200rpm: $234.99 at Amazon (USA Shipping) or $234.03 at B&H (International Shipping) – If you want the fastest 4TB hard drive on the market and/or a longer 5 years warranty.
  4. Seagate STBD6000100 6TB 7200rpm: $319.99 at Amazon or $299.99 at B&H (International Shipping) – If you want the fastest 6TB hard drive on the market.

Lower performance/lower power consumption hard drives, ideal for a single drive external enclosure:

Low power/moderate performance hard drive, designed for 24/7 usage, ideal for a multiple drives enclosures (NAS), workstations and RAID:

2.5″ Hard Drives:

Make sure to double-check that your laptop supports a hard drive with a height of 9.5mm. Most but not all laptops do support hard drives with a 9.5mm height, some are limited to drives with a 7mm height.

A unique dual drive (hard drive and SSD) in one 2.5″ drive!

The Western Digital Black 2: $199.99 at Amazon (USA) or $201.00 at B&H (International Shipping) is the world’s first 2.5-inch dual drive, with a 120 GB SSD and a 1 TB HDD in a single 2.5″ drive. An ideal solution if you only have a single hard drive bay in your laptop and want the high performance of a SSD with the large storage capacity of a hard drive. It’s not inexpensive, but it’s the best of both worlds if you’re limited to a single 2.5″ drive bay. If it’s too expensive, see alternatives below.

The drive initially shows up as a 120GB drive (the SSD part) when you install Windows. Once that is done, you install software from Western Digital to enable the 1TB drive (the hard drive part).

Fast boot-up times, fast program launch for often used programs and average performance otherwise:

If you’re looking for a less expensive alternative to the Western Digital Black 2, the Seagate Solid State Hybrid Hard Drives: 500GB: $69.99 at Amazon (USA) or $70.09 at BH (International Shipping), 1TB: $97 at Amazon (USA) or $97 at BH (International Shipping) is an interesting option.

It combines a 500GB/1TB hard drive with a 8GB SSD-like cache system, which puts into cache Windows (for faster boot-up speed, nearly as fast as a SSD) as well as often used programs/games. This is all done automatically, you have nothing to do to gain the benefits of the cache, but it also means that you have no control over it. Also note that when the files/program/game isn’t cached, performance is similar to a slower 5,400rpm hard drive. Still, you get faster boot times and faster program/game launch for the apps that you use often, at a reasonable price.

Note that it’s 7mm thick, allowing you to use in ultrabooks, tablets and other devices that require thinner 7mm hard drives.

High performance 2.5″ 7,200rpm hard drives with 5 years warranty:

320GB 2.5″ Hard Drive:

  1. Western Digital Black 320GB 7200rpm WD3200BEKX: $54.10 at Amazonor $54.10 at B&H (International Shipping)

500GB 2.5″ Hard Drive:

  1. Western Digital Black 500GB 7200rpm WD5000BPKX: $56.52 at Amazon or $59.99 at B&H (International Shipping)

750GB 2.5″ Hard Drive:

  1. Western Digital Black 750GB 7200rpm WD7500BPKX: $64 at Amazon (USA) or $64 at B&H (International Shipping)

Low cost, lower performance, lower power consumption 2.5″ 5,400rpm hard drives:

500GB 7mm thick 2.5″ Hard Drive:

  1. Seagate 500GB 2.5″ 5400rpm 7mm ST500LT012: $50.97 at Amazon (USA) or $50.99 at B&H (International Shipping) – 7mm thick, perfect for a low-cost hard drive that fits in thinner laptops and tablets.

750GB 2.5″ Hard Drive:

  1. Western Digital Blue 750GB 5400rpm 2.5″: $54.99 at Amazon or $54.12 at B&H (International Shipping) – Low cost, highly reliable 750GB 2.5″ hard drive with a 2 years warranty.
  2. Western Digital Red 750GB 5400rpm 2.5″ WD7500BFCX: $64.99 at Amazon (USA) or $76.30 at B&H (International Shipping) – Slightly higher cost, even more reliable as it is designed for 24/7 usage, comes with a 3 years warranty. Perfect for external enclosures where reliability is highly important.

1TB 2.5″ Hard Drive:

  1. Western Digital Blue 1TB 5400rpm 2.5″ WD10JPVX: $67.62 at Amazon (USA) or $67.99 at B&H (International) – Low cost, highly reliable 1TB 2.5″ hard drive with a 2 years warranty.
  2. Western Digital Red 1TB 5400rpm 2.5″ WD10JFCX: $76.24 at Amazon (USA) or $76.24 at B&H (International) – Slightly higher cost, even more reliable as it is designed for 24/7 usage, comes with a 3 years warranty. Perfect for external enclosures where reliability is highly important.
  3. Western Digital 2.5″ Blue 1TB 5400rpm 7mm thick WD10SPCX: $101.52 at Amazon (USA) – This variant is more expensive, but you only need it if you need a 7mm thick hard drive. Otherwise, pick the option above.

2TB 2.5″ Hard Drive:

  1. Seagate ST2000LM003 2TB 5400rpm 2.5″ 9.5mm thick: $119.88 at Amazon

RAID 0,1,5 and 10: A quick and easy summary

I’ve been asked by a few of you to explain RAID and the different modes in simple terms. In short, RAID consists of combining two or more hard drives (or SSDs) to improve performance and/or reliability.

While there are other modes than 0, 1, 5 and 10 (1+0), these are the main ones that usually come integrated on motherboards (Not all motherboards support RAID) , so they are the modes that most of you have access to, hence why I’ll focus on these. Let’s get started!

Regarding RAID and SSDs:
While RAID 0 can be used to improve performance and RAID 1 for data redundancy, RAID 5 and other higher levels of RAID are not recommended for SSDs, as they greatly increase the quantity of data writes, reducing the lifespan of SSDs.

An important note on using RAID for data loss protection:

Hard drives and SSDs do fail and RAID is not perfect. Sometimes, multiple drives will fail at once (Due to a faulty power supply, power surge, etc.). RAID has limits and is not a 100% fool proof solution for data backup.

It should only be used as one of many steps to protect your data, along with a Backup System that you can rely on!

Note:

In most cases, with motherboard’s integrated RAID controller, you must set up RAID within the BIOS and/or disk manager (i.e. Intel Matrix) prior to installing the OS. Consult your motherboard manual for details on how to set up RAID.

An example of how data is distributed with a RAID 0 array.

RAID 0:

Using a minimum of two drives and as many as you can install (3,4,5,6,etc.), the data is spread across all the drives, basically combining their read and write performance into one ultra-fast array.

The easiest and cheapest option to improve performance, you keep 100% of the combined drives capacity, but if any drive fails, you lose all data.

Important:

The more drives that you have in your RAID 0 array, the more likely it is to fail. You also get diminishing returns as you add more and more drives:

  • Two drives, get a theoretical 100% I/O performance gain but double risk of failure.
  • Three drives, get a theoretical 50% further performance gain but triple risk of failure.
  • Four drives, get a theoretical 25% further performance gain but quadruple risk of failure.
  • Five drives, get a theoretical 20% further performance gain and so on…

So you’ll want to avoid putting critical data that you can’t afford to lose on a RAID 0 array or at the very least, you’ll want to back it up somewhere else as well, since this is the least reliable solution, even less than a single drive.

An example of how data is distributed using RAID 1

RAID 1:

Using two drives, the second drive is a live backup of the first one, being an exact copy of it.

You lose a bit of write speed compared to a single drive (due to the overhead of copying the same data in real-time to two different drives), do gain read performance (Since the OS can read from both the drives) but you only get the capacity of one of the two drives (Two 1TB drives in RAID 1 =1TB total capacity).

The main pro is that you get a higher level of redundancy/reliability, compared to a single drive.

If one drive fails you do not lose data, you are still able to use the PC, but you will need to replace the drive and rebuild the RAID array before regaining redundancy and data loss protection from RAID 1.

An example of how data is distributed with a RAID 5 array.

RAID 5:

Requires a minimum of three drives. Unlike RAID 1 where data is identical on every drive, with RAID 5, data is spread across the drives, with parity bits spread across the drives in a way that if one drive fails, the RAID array will continue to function without any apparent change, other than some performance loss.

However, like with RAID 1, if you lose a drive, you’ll need to replace it before regaining redundancy and data loss protection from RAID 5.

RAID 1 vs RAID 5:

Both RAID 1 (mirroring or duplexing) or RAID 5 (striping with parity) offer good data redundancy should a single drive in a RAID array fail. The major difference however can be found in the system performance between RAID 1 and RAID 5.

RAID 5 experiences more heavy write overhead because of the additional parity data that has to be created and is then written to the disk array. RAID 1 does not experience this overhead.

Read performance, on the other hand, is usually better with a RAID 5 setup. This gets even better if your RAID 5 array has more than 3 disk.

RAID 5 read performance increases with more drives in an array because the more drives there are, the more read/write heads there are, and RAID 5 arrays have the awesome ability to read simultaneously from all the drives at the same time.

RAID 1 only has two drives by nature and is therefore limited in the number of read/write heads.

So in short, if all you want is decent redundancy and don’t care that much about performance, RAID 1 will be just fine. If you want more read performance (For faster applications launch, faster OS and game loading) and capacity (since RAID 1 is limited to two drives in most cases and more would be somewhat pointless), RAID 5 is the best out of the two.

RAID 10 (1+0):

However, if you want top notch performance and redundancy, RAID 1+0 (or 10, same thing) is the way to go. Basically, it’s a combination of RAID 1 redundancy with RAID 0 performance.

While RAID 1+0 is possible with two drives, four drives is preferable if you want the performance benefits.

Category: The Best Computer Parts For Your Money

About Mathieu Bourgie: HR Founder - Computer expert with over 14 years of experience in building, fixing and modifying PCs. Over the years, I’ve developed a passion for PC hardware and now I enjoy helping others build their own PCs! In April 2008, I launched Hardware Revolution and ... Read more at my about page .

  • Spencer

    Love this site. You should do a post about best ram.

  • Josep

    Plextor for SSD and HGST for hard disks (their 2.5″ 7200 rpm 1 TB is excellent) are good brands, too.

  • yourspy005

    THANK YOU. VERY INFORMATIVE AND USEFULL REVIEW. I SHARED IT WITH SOME GOOD FRIENDS. Waiting for the RAM review when you have the time to work on it.