Can my PC handle having a 400 gigs worth of hard drive?

vbimport

#1

Hello

My Current 200 gig HD is gettin pretty filled up and wanna know if theres anything i can do to upgrade to more memory and if my PC can handle it. Im definitaly a beginner with this stuff so can someone help oon geting me started to say about 400 gigs? I wanan know the best way to go about this.

I will post a link to my gateway PC tonight when i get home

Thanks


#2

First off, memory and hd storage are completlly diffrent even though they do a similar job of holding data. If you go looking to upgrade your memory it will not help. Your computer most liklly has a standard ide controler that has two channels. Each channel can control two drives so a total of 4 drives. this includes hard drives and optical drives (floppy drive is a seperate controler so you don’t count it). If you have not upgraded your computer there is a very good chance that you have a free spot to add a hard drive (on the controler anyway). The other thing to look at though is does the case of your computer have a free drive bay. You have to have a place to physically mount the drive. You also have to have an avalable power conector. you can use a spiltter to split one of the exsisting power conectors but that brings up another issue. The power supplies in most prebuilt computers are usally kind of cheap and just large enough for the equipment in it (its one of the places most companies cut corners to reduce costs). You most liklly are very limited as far as how much you can upgrade with an exsisting power supply. You can probably get away with another drive if you have not upgraded anything else but be aware it can be a problem.
There also is a posibility that you have sata conectors that can take aditional drives but it is unliklly on a prebuilt computer, though most aftermarket motherboards have them. Worst case senerio, you could replace the current hard drive with a larger one. that kind of wastes the current drive though. Other options, if your case has bays to mount an aditional hard drive, add another hard drive and get a beter power supply. this will not only make sure you have enough power for the new hard drive but will help with any other upgrades you might do such as more memory, add in pci cards (especially video cards that can take a lot of power), excessive numbers of usb and or firewire devices. If your case doesn’t have an avalable drive bay or you don’t want to mess with the other above things, you could get an external usb or firewire hard drive, though personally I think internals are a much beter solution. Externals are of course a much easier solution though there may be performance costs and externals are more expensive.
If your case doesn’t have a free drive bay, you can of course get a new case pretty cheap. A word of warning though, the power supplies that come with most cheap cases are just as crappy or crappier than what you get with oem computers. You are not going to get a 40$ case that contains a good 50$ power supply (it’s going to probably have a total piece of crap 10$ power supply).
Let us know what your computer is and maybe we can help more. Also, be aware that opening your computer may void your waranty if it is still under warranty. Check the terms and conditions of your warranty.

One last thing. Floppy drives are the same size as hard drives so you could sacrifice your floppy drive (maybe get an external floppy). You would have to find a sutable cover plate for the front of your case or have the hard drive exposed though. The larger bays for optical drives can take a hard drive too if you have one of those free. you will need an adapter to go from the larger bay to the smaller device but the adapters are cheap.


#3

If it currently has but one hard drive, and no more than 2 optical drives, then it should be as simple as installing a 2nd hard drive, and the PC should already be ready to accept the second drive. You might as well take the side cover off and have a look around. There should be a rack for 3.5" drives (hard drive) that has 2-3 slots. The current hard drive should be in there with a ribbon cable attached. On that same ribbon cable should be a second connector, that will connect to the 2nd drive. All you need then is a free power connector.

Look around in there and it’ll be pretty self-explanatory. If you need a new IDE ribbon with 2 connectors, it should come with the hard drive. If there ar no free power connectors, pick up a “Y” connector.


#4

if adding a new HDD to an already occupied IDE channel, don’t forget to position the jumpers on the HDDs correctly (Master is the drive at the end of the cable and Slave is the one in the middle). jumper diagram should be on the HDD itself (on label or etched in)…

i’ve got over 1TB of HDD in one machine…you can never have too much HDD space :wink:


#5

I second what rdgrimes said - pretty much what I said in your media thread, only in this thread you got more detail. And yes, don’t forget to position the jumpers correctly! :slight_smile:


#6

You might want to check weather you can use parallel ATA and/or serial ATA. If I had the choice, I’d go for serial ATA, as that’s the future. All newer systems (motherboards) have these SATA controllers, but that doesn’t go for all somewhat older systems. Most systems are equipped with 2 PATA channels, so you can hook up 2 parallel ATA drives.

You might want to download a software tool that can check your hardware specs and features. One of those products is SiSoft Sandra, which can be downloaded here: http://www.sisoftware.co.uk/


#7

I’m just curious, have you seen sata on very many prebuilt computers? Also, you mean most systems have 2 pata channels so you can hook up 4 parallel ata drives (2 per channel), right?
I havent dealt with too many newer prebuilts (mostly custom built) but the few fairly new ones I have seen only had the normal 2 pata channels? Of course every aftermarket motherboard I have seen in a while has had sata too (the last one I worked on for someone had 8 sata channels).


#8

Wow alot of info haha but thats what i came here for. Ok i definitaly am going to have to read all that over again haha. Anyway i am going home now from work and am going to post the link to my comp. and im going to download that sisoft sandra.

You can probably get away with another drive if you have not upgraded anything else but be aware it can be a problem.

what would be the problem?
has there ever been problems with having alot of hard drive space on one pc? like loss of data? thats what im most concerned about.


#9

If you try to hook up too many devices to a small cheap power supply (and even brand name prebuilt computers often have small cheap power supplies), the most liklly result would be unstable voltage from the power supply which can make the system unstable and it may crash. The unstable voltage also has a small chance of reducing the life of and or damaging equipment in your computer. It could also kill the power supply and sometimes when cheap power supplys die, they can take other parts with them. It is a shame that so many computer companies skimp on such an important piece of equipment. When we find out what you computer is though, maybe well be able to determine what power supply it is. I have seen some use dinky little 150-200 watt power supplys. If you have something like that, I would be afraid to add anything. If it has a 300-350 watt or something like that, you might be a little safer adding a hard drive. I always recomend replacing crappy power supplies as they are such an important piece of equipment, but if it is a larger one, at least you will be as safe as you were before if you add a hard drive. We can basically just look at the equipment in your computer and see how it compares to the power supply you have. There are power supply calculators that can tell you about how much power your system uses.
http://extreme.outervision.com/index.jsp


#10

There is absolutlly no risk to having more hard drive space. My main two computers each have 6 hard drive bays and I have had all those bays full of hard drives before (I move drives around sometimes messing with raid arrays). As long as your system suports that many drives (and you can get pci cards that will allow more drives), it is completlly safe to use as many hard drives as you like (as long as there is room in your case to mount them). You can saflly have as many hard drives as you like as long as your other equipment including power supply can support it. Like drpino and many others, I have over a terabyte (1000 gigabytes) of hard drive space in a single computer using several hard drives. Its totaly safe and doable. Some large server computers have much more than that.
(one note though, if your power supply is too small/cheap, it can cause crashes which can cause data coruption if you add too many devices and overload the power supply).


#11

here you go guys. Analysize my pc to see what is the easiest and best setup. And even if it is able to handle more hard drive space(good enough power supply) etc.

it is the 842gm Gateway
http://support.gateway.com/s/PC/R/5766/5766nv.shtml

Thanks a bunch


#12

It looks like you are good to go (assuming those pics and specs corespond with your computer). If you still have a valid warranty I would find out if opening the case will void the warranty. This computer seems to be laid out for upgrading (to some extent anyway).

oddly enough, you only have one pata ide conector (most have two). That means that you only can attach two total ide drives to the one channel and your optical drive is taking one. I would defanatly reserve the other for another optical drive. It seems that the hard drive that is already in it is a sata drive, and you have 4 sata channels so you can attach 3 more sata hard drives.
As far as space to mount the drives, you have two internal drive bays for hard drives. One of these is most liklly holding the current hard drive so you can hold another one there. It shows two 3.5" external drive bays. These can be used for floppy drives and such. I cannot tell which are full as the front view pics don’t seem to match the internal view exactlly. It is possible that one is taken by a floppy, one is taken by a media card reader. You might have a combination floppy/card reader and have one bay open, I’m really not sure. If one of these bays is avalable, you can use it for another hard drive. You have two 5 1/4" drive bays. If you have two optical drives these are full. If you have one optical drive (the second drive is optional and not on all of these systems), then the other bay is open for another optical drive or a hard drive with adapter.
Basically no problem mounting 1 more drive, maybe on mounting a total of 3 more (just letting you know your upgradability). Just make sure you get a sata hard drive.

As far as your power supply, it lists several power supplys that might be in it. The first is the only that gives a brand and as I suspected, its a piece of crap, but at least it is 300 watts (I have seen much smaller). I would suspect that all are kind of crappy (its normal for many prebuilt computers). Thats not really big but I have seen worse. Unfortunatlly I run amd cpu’s and am not really that farmiliar with power requirements for intel’s. The onboards graphics (I am assuming you havent added a video card) shouldn’t be too power hungry. Try puting the specs of your computer into the power supply calculator I linked to earlier or perhaps someone more farmiliar with intels can help. Keep in mind that 300 watt power supply probably cannot actually continiouslly output near the 300 watts it claims. You can get a decent power supply biger than that pretty cheap.

The bestec one has two sata power conectors, I’m not sure about the others (like I said, there are several). You can always use a splitter.

So in otherwords, yes you have a place to mount another hard drive, a controler to run it (make sure you get a sata drive), the only concern is the power supply. I would suspect that you could get away with adding a hard drive on that power supply, but I’ll let someone more farmiliar with intel’s comment. Reguardless, I would consider a beter power supply in the future. The ones in prebuilts are often just big enough for what is in the computer and they often do not take well to upgrades that take more power.

Fyi, I’m not sure what your technical knoledge level is, but you can take a multimeter and test your computer under load to see how stable the voltage is. You can also do it through software if your hardware supports it but it is not always as accurate. If the voltages are stable under load, then the power supply is probably handeling everything ok (no guaretees with cheap power supplies though as they can be running fine and then just die).


#13

It looks like you are good to go (assuming those pics and specs corespond with your computer). If you still have a valid warranty I would find out if opening the case will void the warranty.

those are exactly the specs and pics of my comp, its the 842GM.
I already instaled a graphics card so if thats the case my warrantys already up haha.

oddly enough, you only have one pata ide conector (most have two). That means that you only can attach two total ide drives to the one channel and your optical drive is taking one. I would defanatly reserve the other for another optical drive. It seems that the hard drive that is already in it is a sata drive, and you have 4 sata channels so you can attach 3 more sata hard drives.

so can i only attach one more hard drive or 3 more hard drives?

I would defanatly reserve the other for another optical drive.

Im fine with my optical drive. CD±RW,DVD±RW

It is possible that one is taken by a floppy, one is taken by a media card reader.

I dont have a floppy but do have a drive that has liek three memory card readers

The first is the only that gives a brand and as I suspected, its a piece of crap, but at least it is 300 watts

is my power supply good enough? i will go to that link you sent me and do that test tonight. is the test easy to setup and use? and i do that test will you be abe to tell for sure if my powerr suply wil be able to handle it? what are the effects of not having a good enough power supply, loss of data???

Oh wait you already answered the last question :
“it can cause crashes which can cause data coruption if you add too many devices and overload the power supply).”

So i geuss it does cause data loss

As far as space to mount the drives, you have two internal drive bays for hard drives. One of these is most liklly holding the current hard drive so you can hold another one there. It shows two 3.5" external drive bays. These can be used for floppy drives and such. I cannot tell which are full as the front view pics don’t seem to match the internal view exactlly. It is possible that one is taken by a floppy, one is taken by a media card reader. You might have a combination floppy/card reader and have one bay open, I’m really not sure. If one of these bays is avalable, you can use it for another hard drive. You have two 5 1/4" drive bays.

So i have one internal drive bay available since the current hard drive is holding the one, i have one 3.5" external drive bay available since one is taken by a memory card reader. and then i have one 5 1/4" drive available because one if for my optical drive. So in all i have 3 available bays?
Would the best setup for me is if i put the new drive i get right in the internal drive bay with my other hard drive?

Your computer most liklly has a standard ide controler that has two channels. Each channel can control two drives so a total of 4 drives.

So mine only has one channel?


#14

Typical Intel 915 chipset system…

ONE PATA / IDE connector - normally used for 1 or 2 optical drives.

FOUR SATA - normally used for hard drives - since there is no signifiacnt price difference (actually, SATA may be getting cheaper) and SATA has the potentiial to perform better, especially when supporting more than one drive, there is no reason to buy anything other than a SATA hard disk for any system equipped with a SATA controller.

PSU inadequacy can cause a variety of problems, including unreliability and cutouts, but I wouldn’t expect one extra hard drive to tip it over the edge, unless it is stupidly close to the limit already.

I suppose it’s a hard drive and a graphics card though - does the graphics card use a power feed? - if it needs one, then it needs considerably more power than one that can use only the slot for power.


#15

Unfortunatlly I run amd cpu’s and am not really that farmiliar with power requirements for intel’s.

Hey matt do you know the power requirements for intel’s? and if so, is my power supply i have right now gonna be fine with a 400 gig hard drive add-on?

my graphics card doesnt use a power feed. atleast i dont think. i got the card in the mail and put it in my pci express slot. I didnt plug any power cord in or anything. then i powered up my comp and it was plug and play. so does it use a power feed?

And here goes the hard drives i was thinking about getting. are these all SATA? and are they compatible with my pc?

  1. Caviar SE16 WD4000KD - western digital
    http://www.pcstats.com/articleview.cfm?articleID=1885

  2. Maxtor DiamondMax 11 - hard drive - 400 GB - SATA-300
    http://www.cdw.com/shop/products/default.aspx?edc=862792

  3. Seagate Barracuda ST3400832AS 400GB Hard Drive
    http://www.pricegrabber.com/search_getprod.php?masterid=5680939

All these are in the $190 - $260 price range. Which is the best and why? and if theres a better 400 gig sata hard drive than those ones, point me in the right direction


#16

UPDATE:

I see that in newegg.com
http://www.newegg.com/Product/ProductList.asp?Submit=ENE&N=2000150014+1035307883&Subcategory=14&description=&srchInDesc=&minPrice=&maxPrice=

the hard drives i posted have like 3 different kinds with 400 gigs in each brand. Now i saw that the $199 western digital(the most expensive western digital with 400 gigs) has NCQ and looks like it has the best specs out of all three western digitals.

And there are three different seagates and two maxtors taht all have 400 gigs. i dont know the specs. Can someone tell me what has the best specs for each brand?


#17

To clarify a little. You should have an internal 3.5" drive bay avalable. You should have an external 3.5" drive bay avalable. You have a 5 1/4" drive bay avalable so you do seem to have 3 bays avalable. The two 3.5" will take a hard drive. The 5 1/4 will take a hard drive with an adapter (that cost just a few dollars). You might as well just put the hard drive in the internal bay next to the other hard drive. You could fit three more hard drives (total of 4) in your computer if you wanted, but that would fill all your drive bays.

You have two diffrent controlers. The first is a pata controler and it can take two drives (on the same channel/cable). Most computers have two but yours only has 1 (1 channel can take two drives). You dvd drive is using this channel so you could add one more drive to it. It would have to be a pata drive (all the ones you are looking at are sata and would not work).

your second controler is a sata 1 controler with 4 channels. Sata can only take one drive per channel. One is being used by your current hard drive. You could add 3 more sata hard drives to the other three channels. That means your controler can handle them.
So you have a total of 6 drives that can be controled, 2 pata, 4 sata, but one pata is used by your dvd drive, and one sata is used by your current hard drive, leaving4 controler spots open (1 pata and 3 sata). That is how many drives your motherboard can control.
On top of being able to control it, you need a place to mount it. You have 6 drive bays, 2 5 1/4", 2 3.5" external, 2 3.5" internal. One 5 1/4" bay is taken by your dvd drive. One 3.5" external is taken by your card reader. 1 3.5" internal is taken by your current hard drive.

So you could put 6 drives in your computer (if you removed the card reader), two optical and 4 hard drives or 1 optical and 5 hard drives, and could control them all. I’m not sugesting taking out the card reader, I’m just saying that is the max number of drives your system will support.
Be aware that pata and sata drives are not the same and are not interchangable. You can control 2 pata drives, and 4 sata drives. Most opticals are pata. Pata and sata hard drives are both very common. You might as well leave the second pata controler spot open for an optical (there are only a few sata opticals even avalable). Sata is beter for hard drives anyway (keeping that spot open will not stop you from adding drives now as you have sata open). Sata is the newer, beter, more capable technology for hard drives so you might as well get them. There is not really much of a speed diffrence between pata and sata hard drives, as the mechanical limits of the drives are slower than the max allowed by any of these standards. You might get a little performance increase from sata from the way it handles data and the way the controlers are incorperated. Not a raw speed increase, but rather slight performance increases on how the data is handled through the controlers and motherboard.
So basically no problem adding a hard drive now and a couple more in the future if you like with the exception of the power supply.
With 1 hard drive, and no video card, your system takes about 200 watts (ball park figure based on what I got from the power calculator I linked to with 3 usb devices).
Your video card can take up to 75 watts without an extra power conector (thats what the pci 16 standard allows for, a maximum of 75 watts).
You are already near the 300 watt max of that power supply (and I guarentee you that pos cannot actually put out 300 watts continouslly, cheap power supplys often have exagerated ratings). Even an old low power radeon 7000 takes 30 watts, and old 9200 or 5200 takes 40 watts. Most newer cards are going to be closer to that 75 watt limit (higher if they have an extra power conector). Each hard drive maybe 15-20 watts. So you got a videocard and a another hard drive and are pretty close to 300 watts, whcih your power supply cannot handle already, and you plug in a firewire device (that can take 4 times as much power as a usb device) and bang goes your power supply!!! Just a warning… Am I trying to scare you? Yes…
In reality, those are max powers. You computer probably doesn’t use half that most of the time like when you are web surfing or typing a document. Its a good thing too since that power supply probably can put out 200 watts at best if even that. You could add that hard drive and the computer would run just fine, till you try gaming, or transcoding a videofile and websurfing at the same time or other kinds of multi tasking.
It will run fine till you push your computer and or plug in a high power firewire device and little upgrades like a stick of memory or a fan makes it even worse. There is no perfect solution because we never really know exactlly how much power your computer is going to use (you can have two idenitcal cpu’s and one will use a little more power than the other). even with the power supply calculators, they are only approximates.
My opinion, you are seriouslly pushing your luck with that power supply. It could run fine, especially if you never push your computer, but I think you are taking a big risk. You can check it out. Bare minimum, run software like sandra or whatever that can report voltages and see if your voltages are in spec. I would do it right now infact and see how it is doing with the videocard installed. It’s probably going to be ok, but try running 3dmark or the sandra burn in wizard or something like that and see if the voltages stay stable.
As far as the drives, many of the main stream 7200rpm drives have similar performance. I usally go for the best price per gig. You need to go to raptors or something like that to get a noticable performance increase.
As far as brand, out of the ones you are looking at, I would avoid maxtor. they have a reputation for poor reliability (drives dying) and aparently they don’t have too much confidence in their drives either as most have a crappy 1 year warranty. Seagates are much beter quality and have a 5 year warranty. I really don’t have an opinion, good or bad about western digital, perhaps someone else can coment. Also, you are looking at both sata 1 drives (rated at 1.5 MBps) and sata 2 drives rated at 3MBps (out of the ones you linked too). Your controler is sata 1. While I think most sata 2 drives are backwards compatible, I have heard of problems once or twice. Perhaps someone more farmiliar with the two can coment.

Hope that wasn’t too confusing. Also, if you are in the US, consider checking local ads (bestbuy, circuit city, the office supply stores, fry’s and micro center if near you). Those prices are kind of high. Hard drives are one of the few items that you can actually get a lot cheaper locally when on sale.


#18

very very informing and upped my knowledge of pc hardware by a ton. thanks again ripit, very informative. im either gonna get a seagate or western digital sata 1 just to be on the safe side and get a power supply, any suggestions???

anyay im gonna go to bed now and will talk to you tomorow i geuss.

Thanks a bunch, very helpful


#19

There are several brands that are good (enermax, fortron/sparkle, pc power and cooling, ocz, antec, seasonic), and there are plenty to stay away from (to many to list). Here are some good ones.
http://forums.extremeoverclocking.com/showthread.php?t=136602
A couple of things to look at. Since your system is kindo fo geared towards sata, see how many sata power conectors it has. Of course you can use splitters if nesasary but you need at least a couple. The 12v rail is the most important. How much power is on the 12v rail (usally rated in amps) is as important if not more important that the total watts. Many power supplies have the 12v split into 2 rails but they usally give an indication of what the total 12v power avalable is. If you get confused between watts and amps, use this calculator
http://www.pelco.com/support/tools/voltagecalc.aspx
Just enter 12 under volts, whatever under amps and click calculate to get the watts.
Again, maybe someone more farmiliar with intels can help here, but if I’m not mistaken, some intel cpu’s can be very power hungry with 12v power. If the power supply has dual 12v rails, only the power on the second rail goes to the cpu/motherboard. The other rail goes to drives and such. Make sure the second rail has decent power (maybe get something a little larger if it has dual 12v rails) or look for something with a single 12v rail.
The idea behind dual rails is that the seperate 12v rail provides more stable power to the cpu/graphics card etc., by seperating it from items like drives that have motors (when motors spin up they can cause voltage to fluctuate a little). The fluctuation generally doesn’t cause problems unless you are overloading your power supply (which many do). If you have a decent size and quality power supply, I have never heard of it causing an issue. The idea of dual rails is good, but splitting the power can cause issues of not having enough power where you need it. While there is nothing wrong with dual rail power supplies if they have enough power, I kind of prefer single rail so you have all the power wherever you need it.
someone corect me if I am wrong, but thats about 85 watts for the cpu (isn’t that about what a pentium 4 uses?), and up to 75 watts for the graphics card, and that doesn’t include anything else on the motherboard using 12v power. 85 watts + 75 watts = 160 watts which means 13.333 amps (on the second rail), so you will need even more than that (you video card may or may not use that much but why not play it safe).

As far as the other 12v rail, if the one for the cpu/video is big enough the other will most liklly be big enough. If getting a single rail power supply, consider that all your drives use 12v (and 5v), any case fans etc. use it also (so many things use 12v, that is why it is the most important rail).


#20

can i get an ultra ata or would that not be compatible?