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My parents have a Dell Dimension 4300 Desktop with a Maxtor 2B020H1 drive in it. I am pretty ignorant about HDDs and want to ensure that I get the correct one to add as a second drive.

I understand that this is an IDE drive, can I just buy any current PATA drive, or do I have to be careful and buy a specific type.

I'm probably only looking for a 60-80GB drive, and probably from seagate.

Anyone point me in the direction of a suitable drive?

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Have you checked the Dell site to see if there's a guide on there? – ChrisF Aug 26 '09 at 11:33
    
Tip: IDE/PATA drives (seem to) max out currently at 500GB, but make sure your BIOS/motherboard supports drives that large before you fork out for one. The Dimension 4300 might be too old to support very large size drives, but I can't say for sure. – Chris W. Rea Aug 26 '09 at 12:54
up vote 4 down vote accepted

According to Dell's information , this machine will hold 2 drives.

two bays for 1-inch–high IDE hard drives ATA-66 or ATA-100 Ultra DMA hard drive, CD drive, Zip drive, DVD drive, and CD-RW drive

Basically, that means any standard 3.5" PATA drive should work.

As others have said, a larger drive will be faster, likely less expensive, and you never know when you'll need more space.

Personally, depending on budget and usage patterns, I would consider upgrading the machine to a new $400-500 machine from Dell. Get a new machine with a new hard drive, new monitor etc. This machine must be around 4 years old, so the hard drive is on borrowed time.

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I can't comment on the make/model of drive you need; but as for size, get the largest you (or your parents) can afford even if it seems you'll never fill it.

You might find that a larger (but not the largest) drive is actually cheaper than the 60-80 GB you've specified. Why? Because the smaller drives are rarer and hence more expensive; a larger drive might have been top of the range 6 months ago, but now has been superceeded so the shop (or website) has stock to get rid of so they're discounting the price.

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Larger drives tend to perform better than smaller drives, too, due to increased aereal density. – Chris W. Rea Aug 26 '09 at 11:39
    
@cwrea - good point. I was only addressing the cost and ease of purchase. – ChrisF Aug 26 '09 at 11:43
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Plus, when I buy a new larger drive, I typically image my old onto the new and make it the system drive since newer ones perform better. The old is relegated to storage-only. Of course, this is extra effort ... but if moving from a 60-80GB 5400RPM drive with 2MB cache to 500GB 7200RPM with 16MB cache, it's worth it since you can feel the "fast" :-) – Chris W. Rea Aug 26 '09 at 12:51

Any IDE drive should fit your PC so long as it is 3.5" make sure you don't get a 2.5" drive since these are intended for laptops and would need an adapter to fit. According to the spec on the Dell web site your pc has 2 internal 3.5" slots available so fitting the drive shouldn't be a problem.

If you are going to connect it to the same cable as the existing drive make sure the jumper is set to slave or cable select.

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