Hard drive prices in SA: Where's the sweet spot?

As with other forms of technology, when new hard drives are released the cost of storage decreases across the board. The latest drives are usually significantly more expensive than older ones, even when looking at price per MB of storage.

This phenomenon has resulted in discerning buyers hunting for the ever-changing “sweet spot,” or optimum price versus performance purchase.

Generally hard-drives are among the easier forms of technology to evaluate in terms of “bang for buck” as it’s easy to calculate the amount of storage you get per Rand spent. 

Capacity isn’t the only important specification of a hard disk. Performance-influencing factors such as the rotational speed, interface and cache size of a drive could also have an effect on the price.

In this article we specifically look at internal, serial ATA (SATA) hard drives for desktop computers.

These drives may rotate at speeds between 5,400 revolutions per minute (rpm) and 10,000 rpm, feature either a SATA2 or SATA3 interface and have cache sizes of 8, 16, 32, or 64 Megabytes (MB).

To determine the current sweet spot for internal desktop SATA drives, we looked at the pricing of three different online retailers. Considering the capacity, speeds, interfaces and cache sizes of the various drives, we pin-pointed the current sweet-spots.

Optimal capacity

Most hard drive manufacturers build a type of “green” drive which is aimed at temperature and power efficiency. These drives rotate at lower speeds (usually 5,400 or 5,900 rpm), with Western Digital saying that their drives automatically vary their speeds between 5,400 and 7,200 rpm.

While perhaps not the fastest drives, they seem to provide the most storage capacity for money spent at around R0.46 per Gigabyte (GB) to R0.55 in 1.5 Terabyte (TB) and 2 TB drives.

SATA Hard Drives – “Green” models
Make Model Capacity (GB) Speed (rpm) Cache (MB) Indicative Price R/GB
Samsung HD154UI 1500 5400 32 R 671.67 R 0.45
Seagate Barracuda Green 2000 5900 32 R 941.00 R 0.47
Samsung EcoGreen F3 2000 variable 32 R 931.00 R 0.47
Samsung SpinPoint F4 EcoGreen 2000 5400 32 R 982.85 R 0.49
Seagate Barracuda Green (SATA3) 2000 5900 64 R 1,011.64 R 0.51
Western Digital Caviar Green 2000 5400-7200 64 R 1,054.85 R 0.53
Western Digital Caviar Green 1500 5400-7200 64 R 802.20 R 0.53
Seagate Barracuda Green (SATA3) 1500 5900 64 R 837.08 R 0.56
Western Digital Caviar GP AV 2000 5400-7200 32 R 1,174.00 R 0.59
Western Digital AV-GP 1500 5400-7200 64 R 942.87 R 0.63
Western Digital Caviar Green 3000 5400-7200 64 R 2,609.10 R 0.87

In general the best value is to be found in hard drives larger than 1.5TB (1,500GB), provided that one isn’t looking at enterprise or “enthusiast” drives.

SATA Hard Drives – 7200rpm
Make Model Capacity (GB) Speed (rpm) Cache (MB) Indicative Price R/GB
Seagate Barracuda 1500 7200 32 R 760.19 R 0.51
Seagate Barracuda 1000 7200 32 R 567.88 R 0.57
Samsung D103UJ 1000 7200 32 R 576.61 R 0.58
Western Digital Caviar Blue 1000 7200 32 R 662.83 R 0.66
Seagate Barracuda 500 7200 16 R 370.00 R 0.74
Seagate Barracuda XT (SATA3) 2000 7200 64 R 1,534.00 R 0.77
Western Digital Caviar Black (SATA3) 2000 7200 64 R 1,736.31 R 0.87

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Hard drive prices in SA: Where's the sweet spot?