The fall television season is, finally, almost upon us! That means you only have a couple of weeks to make sure that your home theater PC (HTPC) is ready for what will most likely be a lot more recording TV duty! At the top of the fall television HTPC readiness checklist is hard drive storage! One hour of high definition recording can take up six to eight gigabytes of hard drive capacity. So if your recording drive is getting a little low on storage space now is the perfect time to upgrade!
At the bare minimum we recommend that you go with at least a one terrabyte hard drive, but storage is getting so cheap right now it’s more cost effective to spend just a little bit more and upgrade to a two terabyte drive. But what kind of drive should you buy? We prefer to stick with the tried and true hard drive manufacturers: Western Digital and Seagate. Western Digital also makes picking the right drive a little easier, because they classify the different models by colors. The Caviar Black drives are the fastest drives they offer, but they are also the most expensive, consume the most power, and most importantly for an HTPC, generate the most noise. The Caviar Green series is at the other end of the spectrum. They give up some performance, but they are also the quietest and most power-efficient. The Caviar Blue series falls right in-between.
In terms of drive speed,
you’ll defintely want 7200RPM 7200RPM drives are preferred, but not necessary if you’re only streaming media to/from them. The only other specification you’ll really need to watch out for is the interface type. If you need a new internal hard drive does your motherboard support the latest SATA standard: SATA III, or just SATA II? Of course even if your current motherboard doesn’t support SATA III, a new 6 GB/s drive will still work with a SATA II motherboard. Likewise, if you’re looking to add an external drive you’ll want to look at the USB version. USB 3.0 is 10 times faster than USB 2.0, and while your motherboard may not support it yet, a USB 3.0 drive will also work in a standard USB 2.0 port.
I’ve never had issues running 5400 RPM WD green drives on my HTPC. This is with 7 HD tuners. Currently have the 2TB.
Thanks Andy! I’ve updated the post to hopefully do a better job of indicating that 7200RPM isn’t always necessary.
I figured if I could stream HD over the network from another PC or WHS, modern 5400 RPM drives should work. And they do. I’m sure 7200s are better performers if you have a lot of users, but I’m only running 2 clients and haven’t really felt a big negative impact to the 5400 drive.
Guess I just cheaped out, but I don’t feel I’ve paid a very big price to do so. As hard drive prices continue to fall, 7200 isn’t really going to break the bank these days, but when I bought the latest drive there was a significant price difference @ the 2TB size.
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