In This Corner: The Hard Disk Drive (HDD)

The traditional spinning hard drive has been a standard for many generations of personal computers. Constantly improving technology has enabled hard drive makers to pack more storage capacity than ever, at a cost per gigabyte that still makes hard drives the best bang for the buck.

ibm ramacAs sophisticated as they’ve become, hard drives have been around since 1956. The ones back then were two feet across and could store only a few megabytes of information, but technology has improved to the point where you can cram 10 terabytes into something about the same size as a kitchen sponge.

Inside a hard drive is something that looks more than a bit like an old record player: There’s a platter, or stacked platters, which spin around a central axis — a spindle — typically at about 5,400 to 7,200 revolutions per minute. Some hard drives built for performance work faster.

hard drive diagramInformation is written to and read from the drive by changing the magnetic fields on those spinning platters using an armature called a read-write head. Visually, it looks a bit like the arm of a record player, but instead of being equipped with a needle that runs in a physical groove on the record, the read-write head hovers slightly above the physical surface of the disk.

The two most common form factors for hard drives are 2.5-inch, common for laptops, and 3.5-inch, common for desktop machines. The size is standardized, which makes for easier repair and replacement when things go wrong.

The vast majority of drives in use today connect through a standard interface called Serial ATA (or SATA). Specialized storage systems sometimes use Serial Attached SCSI (SAS), Fibre Channel, or other exotic interfaces designed for special purposes.

Hard Disk Drives Cost Advantage

Proven technology that’s been in use for decades makes hard disk drives cheap — much cheaper, per gigabyte than solid state drives. HDD storage can run as low as three cents per gigabyte. You don’t spend a lot but you get lots of space. HDD makers continue to improve storage capacity while keeping costs low, so HDDs remain the choice of anyone looking for a lot of storage without spending a lot of money.

The downside is that HDDs can be power-hungry, generate noise, produce heat, and don’t work nearly as fast as SSDs. Perhaps the biggest difference is that HDDs, with all their similarities to record players, are ultimately mechanical devices. Over time, mechanical devices will wear out. It’s not a question of if, it’s a question of when. HDD technology isn’t standing still, and price per unit stored has decreased dramatically.

HDD manufacturers have made dramatic advances in technology to keep storing more and more information on HD platters — referred to as areal density. As HDD manufacturers try to outdo each other, consumers have benefited from larger and larger drive sizes. One technique is to replace the air in drives with helium, which reduces reduces friction and supports greater areal density. Another technology that should be available soon uses heat-assisted magnetic recording (HAMR). HAMR records magnetically using laser-thermal assistance that ultimately could lead to a 20 terabyte drive by 2019.

The continued competition and race to put more and more storage in the same familiar 3.5” HDD form factor means that it will be a relatively small, very high capacity choice for storage for many years to come.

HHD and SSD Comparison showing the inside of a hard drive

In the Opposite Corner: The Solid State Drive (SSD)

Solid State Drives (SSDs) have become much more common in recent years. They’re standard issue across Apple’s laptop line, for example the MacBook, MacBook Pro and MacBook Air all come standard with SSDs. So does the Mac Pro.

ssd hard drive inside opened upSolid state is industry shorthand for an integrated circuit, and that’s the key difference between an SSD and a HDD: there are no moving parts inside an SSD. Rather than using disks, motors and read/write heads, SSDs use flash memory instead — that is, computer chips that retain their information even when the power is turned off.

SSDs work in principle the same way the storage on your smartphone or tablet works. But the SSDs you find in today’s Macs and PCs work faster than the storage in your mobile device.

The mechanical nature of HDDs limits their overall performance. Hard drive makers work tirelessly to improve data transfer speeds and reduce latency and idle time, but there’s a finite amount they can do. SSDs provide a huge performance advantage over hard drives — they’re faster to start up, faster to shut down, and faster to transfer data.

Benefits of a SSD Hard Drive

SSDs can be made smaller and use less power than hard drives. They also don’t make noise, and can be more reliable because they’re not mechanical. As a result, computers designed to use SSDs can be smaller, thinner, lighter and last much longer on a single battery charge than computers that use hard drives.

Many SSD makers produce SSD mechanisms that are designed to be plug-and-play drop-in replacements for 2.5-inch and 3.5-inch hard disk drives because there are millions of existing computers (and many new computers still made with hard drives) that can benefit from the change. They’re equipped with the same SATA interface and power connector you might find on a hard drive.

Planning for the Future of Storage

If you’re still using a computer with a SATA hard drive, you can see a huge performance increase by switching to an SSD. What’s more, the cost of SSDs has dropped dramatically over the course of the past couple of years, so it’s less expensive than ever to do this sort of upgrade.

Whether you’re using a HDD or an SSD, a good backup plan is essential because eventually any drive will fail. You should have a local backup combined with secure cloud-based backup like Backblaze, which satisfies the 3-2-1 backup strategy. To help get started, make sure to check out our Backup Guide.

Hopefully, we’ve given you some insight about HDDs and SSDs. And as always, we encourage your questions and comments, so fire away!

In store cleanliness against the COVID-19 (Coronavirus)

As a nation and one big family, we all need to play our part to minimise the impact of COVID-19 (Coronavirus) in our beloved country.

See Newsletter here.

Chaos Computers is committed to reducing the spread of this virus in our store, while we  till provide you with that great service you are used to.

We would like to reassure you that the safety of our customers and staff is of utmost importance to us. For your information and peace of mind, we would like to inform you of the preventative measures that we have currently put in place:

In Store

  • Sanitizers available in store and we sterilize and clean our shop and displays daily.
  • Hands are washed regularly and we use hand sanitizer before and after handling any of our own, and your stock.
  • We limit interaction where possible, But we have actively trained our team to respect and maintain distance with clients during interaction.
  • We now offer remote desktop support via TeamViewer. Call us for more information about this service.
  • Our workshop technicians sterilize and clean all machines before and after working on them.


  • Our technical guys are equipped with preventative gear and are encouraged not to touch their faces during repairs.
  • Any team member displaying symptoms is sent home immediately with a full bag of groceries and a roll of toilet paper.

Our doors are still open and we look forward to welcoming you again for that great Chaos feeling. We encourage you to make use of our services during these times.

A heartfelt thank you to you, our loyal customers, for the support and understanding. In the words of our president: "If we act together, if we act now, and if we act decisively, we will overcome it."

The Chaos Family


Is a Liquid cooled better than an Air cooled CPU ?

Well the answer to this question is not a definite Air or Liquid. Our research suggests that there’s no real definite answer.

Liquid cooling can allow for better performance on the high-end PC setups. Air cooling is limited to the socket on your motherboard. It is also the most cost-effective way to go if budget is a problem.

Air cooling has fewer moving parts and doesn't have any chance of leaking and killing other system components so it's more reliable. It can also be quieter than liquid cooling can ever be since it doesn't require a pump, as those suckers can make a bit a of a noise.

At the end of the day… the job to be done, is to cool down the CPU. The Liquid system does a better, more stable job than the air cooling fans usually do, so if budget and space in your case is not a problem, then we suggest the Cooler Master ML240R his younger brother the Cooler Master ML120L will also do a pretty good job.

This still doesn’t mean that Liquid has won the fight, as Linus from LTT explains in his video below. The air coolers available can sometimes do the same job, if not better, that the liquid coolers can. Have a look at the Cooler Master MasterAir MA410M which is a duel fan setup on the heatsink which pushes and pulls the air rather effectively through the aluminium fins for optimal results. The cheaper Antec C40 CPU Cooler also does a pretty good job.

So, which is better?

Well, if you have a high end setup, where you are editing videos on Adobe Premier for your day job, and then streaming OBS to Twitch & YouTube while you are playing Fortnight as a secondary income stream, then yes, get a liquid cooler! It’s going to keep your rig way more stable than an air cooler could ever do. You will need to ensure that your power supply can handle it though.

On the other hand though, if you need simple effective cooling on a budget for a decent PC that gets used a few times a week for fun, or just to check your emails, maybe a bit of work, then getting the Cooler Master MasterAir MA410M is the best way to go!

Now... If you are still skeptical, and not really sure what to get... we always have the Hybrid version as well, the Cooler Master Maker 92 Hybrid. Best of both worlds!

Watch the video from Linus Tech Tips for some more information.

Credit: Linus Tech Tips

Where Can I Buy Corsair Gear In Cape Town?

Chaos Computers in Claremont is the place to GO

Chaos Computers is proud to announce a newly formed Premium Partnership agreement with Corsair to distribute and sell the products in store and online. Together, they are creating the ultimate shopping experience that will be the best place in Cape town to buy Corsair Gear

Corsair are sponsoring some of the latest gear for DEMO and display purposes, making the shop an awesome place to go to check out some of the newest Corsair peripherals and parts on the market. Drop by the shop to test, touch, feel and experience the merchandise

Chaos Computers will now be offering a full range of Gaming headsets, gaming PC cases, RGB fans, CPU liquid coolers, gaming keyboards, gaming mice, gaming PCs, gaming power supplies, DDR4 memory, and more ...

Get the best Corsair Deals and Buy Corsair products at Chaos

Corsair was founded in 1994, from then the company has grown from pioneering high-performance DRAM into creating some of the worlds best peripherals, components and cases. Corsair offers a complete range of products for every kind of person, no matter what your budget may be. All their products are created with passion and keep to the commitment of producing the highest quality, the best performance and innovative design.

Whether you are a gaming enthusiast or more of a casual gamer, if you Buy Corsair they will always promise to provide you the best quality product. From their gaming keyboards all the way to their components used in building the ultimate gaming machine! They will always stick to their ideals of giving you the best that you can afford. Feel like an eSports athlete in the comfort of your own home when you are equipped with the gaming equipment provided by Corsair. Legends in their field.

Corsair has broadened their scope even more by acquiring Elgato, the leading provider in hardware and software for all the content creators out there. Corsair and Elgato teaming up means that there will be new, cutting edge components for both gamers and content creators alike. Go on, do your thing with Corsair.

Buy Corsair, Buy the Best, From the Best

Visit Chaos Computers in Claremont

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