I already had a 500GB hard drive in my computer (a MacBook Pro) and 4GB of memory, but I was looking for the next upgrade, the computer still being fairly current and only a year old.
Perceived wisdom would say upgrade to 8GB of memory, but a new breed of disk drive has been introduced which in my opinion changes this.
Solid State Drives have been around for a while, but they are prohibitively expensive, being well over £1500 for a 500GB drive, 8GB of RAM would be about £250, but the new “hybrid” drive from Seagate is a shade under £100 for a 500GB drive. More expensive than the equivalent size in a standard hard drive, but read on…
The Seagate Momentus XT is available in 250, 320 & 500GB sizes and includes a 4GB SSD area within the unit. It uses this SSD to store the most frequently used data for super fast retrieval rather than storing it on the disk platters which are relatively slow. So, the operating system boots faster, but for me, the biggest advantages are that Photoshop, Lightroom and other programs are much faster to load and use, maybe twice as fast. Lightroom especially is now much snappier in use.
The drive learns as it goes, so if you start using other programs more frequently, it will optimise those. It also includes a 32MB cache and spins at 7200RPM, so it’s already a fast hard drive in a 2.5″ laptop format (although there’s no reason why you shouldn’t use it in a desktop system too).
So, for under a hundred quid, I’ve had a more dramatic upgrade than I did when I moved from 2GB to 4GB of memory. In my case, I didn’t increase the size of the disk, just the performance – dramatically.
The Momentus XT is available from people like www.ebuyer.com, an essential upgrade for anyone working with Mac OSX or Windows. On the Mac, it was very simple to upgrade, simply using SuperDuper to clone the drive (took about 3 hours with 250GB of data on the drive), then swapping it over. No re-install, no configuration, just carry on as if nothing has happened, just a lot faster. So simple, there’s no real reason not to do it!