From what I remember, there are two types of garbage collection, which can probably be best described as active and passive. The latter is the easiest to explain, it waits until the SSD is inactive (system idle) and then performs its routines, typically only when the SSD is full, or close to it. Active is a type that will clear unused blocks, even while the SSD is in use (while keeping the performance hit to a minimum). So if you want maximum and continuous performance, an active collector would be better.
After a fair bit of reading, and for the type of workload you'd be using, a non-sandforce controller would be best. Sandforce controllers tend to be rather poor with incompressible data (in terms of stability). Games and especially movies, use a lot of incompressible data. Next one to avoid would be Samsung 800 series SSDs, as they have a very low priority GC that's passive, so performance will degrade rapidly once the drive becomes full. The Crucial M4 will degrade rapidly too after the drive is full without TRIM, so that's likely out too (passive GC).
The strong Contender here is the Corsair Neutron (LAMD Controller), which has some very consistent results when full, even if it isn't strictly speaking, the fastest drive. The OCZ Vector, not to be confused with the Vertex series, is another possibility too (Indilinx Controller). I'll keep reading up on some others, if I can find relevant performance data as to long-term stability.
TRIM is a standardised ATA command, so the 'custom software' solutions are just GUI wrappers for the command. The Intel Toolbox though, just has a lot of other features and tools for analysis. If an SSD does not support TRIM, or the OS doesn't, these tools can then provide a means to manually run garbage collection across the entire drive at the user's discretion, thereby simulation the effect of TRIM.
For HDDs, it all comes back to costs and preference. I am, personally, more willing to splash a bit more cash on a drive with an extended warranty, typically 5 years. For cheap data storage, something with a 3 year warranty is about as low as I will go.
If you plan on a RAID array, WD Red drives would fit the bill. If not, and you just want storage, Greens will do. A Seagate Barracuda 3TB (ST3000DM001) is seriously cheap for a 3TB drive, but the 1 year warranty puts a sting in the tail. Again, this is all up to you, there really aren't that many choices left for hard drives. Ask a wide enough group and you'll find that everyone has had problems with all of the manufacturers. So really, it comes down to price on the day and the warranty.
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Last edited by Tharic-Nar; 03-02-2013 at 07:11 PM.