I would agree that IBM hard drives are probably the fastest. However, its been my experience that theyre slightly more expensive. Odds are, for whatever it is that youre using it for, games, office work, whatever, the speed difference between an IBM, and say, a cheaper Quantum, is going to be so small you wont notice it. For most applications, a WD, Maxtor, Quantum, anything will do fine, unless you want to spend the extra on an IBM drive anyways.
Its like buying a car that goes 500mph, when really you have no need to go faster than oh, say a good 250.
If you plan to overclock, the IBM deskstars are the way to go. I use an IBM deskstar GXP14 10.1 gig. It runs cool, moves data as fast as SCSI on single user systems, and you can get it for about $275. Check out
www.shopper.com, they will list all companies selling the part and how many are in stock in some cases.
Personally, I favour Quantum drives. I am not sure about other manufacturers, but Quantum's Shock Protection System is reassuring. It's nice to know that even if some clumsy fool banged it around in the shop, it will emerge unharmed. Other drives can be damaged, but take weeks or months to die. If that happens, you've already lost everything you've done since you got the computer (read, you have to start again with a new HD, and fear it happening again)
I have 2 Maxtor 2880s bought based on several harddrive reviews at tech sites a year or so ago (can't remember where) but in the face of Voodoo2 cards, K6-2 350s and DVD drives I was pretty indifferent to harddrives beyond size..that is until I bought an 6.4G Deskstar 8. You just slide it out of the antistatic bag and you see the difference.. but the real kicker is that its almost silent, I mean not even half as loud the Maxtors, and they're quite drives. Its a real wonder- I love it. I have a Western Digital thats about three years old that hasn't had a problem but its hard to listen to the thing crackling like a fire place after the IBM. I just bought an 8.4 G IBM DTTA for $173 shipped to my door at http://www.tjt.com/HardDrive-4.htm.
If you are looking for speed, I suggest the Maxtor Diamondmax Plus 2500 10gig. It runs at 7200rpm, and is alot quieter then my WD Caviar 6.4gig. The 2500 is every bit as fast as An IBM 14GXP, if not faster. I have seen some reviews that even have it outperforming 10000rpm Cheatahs in SOME tests. The best part is that I got mine for like $225. Just look at pricewatch.
We've experieced failed WD Caviar 1.2Gb hard drives in less than 2 years. But in both incidence, we were able to get replacements from WD and they replaced them with brand new 3.2Gb. Go with a company that will warranty them for 3 years and replace them with brand new drives. Some companies will send refurbished ones, so beware.
I've sold hundreds of these drive - usually the IDEs 'cept for the IBMs. They're all good brands, though I've been having problems with the Seagates the past year or so. I think encountered these when they moved their main plant in Asia to China, the Conner factory which I heard they bought. There was a time when 60% of their drives failed. Fujitsu is not the fastest drive around but they sure are reliable, say a 3-5 percent failure rate. But I'm biased towards the Quantums, starting with the Bigfoots. A friend accidentally dropped one and gave it a dent but the drive still worked w/o a hitch, 'course I won't warranty drives with external physical damage. The Fireball EX/EL with SPS are good buys, they're my top choice right now for IDEs.