I picked up a couple of hard drives to evaluate as sample-containing drives, with the idea of returning the lesser of the two (or the more expensive of the two if they're within some small range of performance). Other than trying some seat-of-the-pants analysis, what would anyone here recommend as a set of tests that would best highlight these as sample drives?
In general, I like the iozone benchmark test from http://www.iozone.org. It's nominally a filesystem benchmark, and some of the tests (e.g. disk write speed tests) don't really apply to sample streaming applications. But it tests your whole system's throughput, and that's the bottom line. The graphical output allows you to see where the bottlenecks are in your system as a whole. You can swap drives in and out and see how overall performance is affected.