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OEM Hard Drives

June 9th, 2010

hard-drive-oem.jpgWhile shopping for a hard drive upgrade, you may have wondered about the term “OEM”, and why OEM drives cost less than others. OEM hard drives can be an excellent way to save money on a hard drive upgrade, while generally getting exactly the same drive that you would in a retail package. Consider purchasing an OEM hard drive if you already have all of the hardware that you need to mount and install a new drive.


OEM is an acronym for “Original Equipment Manufacturer”. In computer terms, an OEM is a company that builds a computer from parts and sells it. So, an OEM component is intended to be sold to a computer builder, rather than an end user. OEM components generally do not include many of the items that retail components do, including the retail box itself. This bare packaging cuts the price of the component significantly, which has caused OEM components to grow in popularity among cost-conscious consumers.

Packaging and Accessories

When you purchase a hard drive labeled as a “retail” product online, you are getting the same component that you would if you were to purchase it from an electronics store, including the shrink-wrapped box, printed manual, possibly a software CD, and any cables or mounting screws needed to connect the drive. When you purchase an OEM component, however, you are purchasing a product intended for a system builder, who has no need or desire for anything but the drive itself. So, that is all you will receive: the hard drive, in a protective anti-static bag.


When purchasing an OEM hard drive, the savings that you receive when you opt not to receive the trappings of a retail-packaged drive can be significant. For example, the cost of a 2 TB hard drive manufactured by Seagate in 2009 is $229.99 for the retail version, or $179.99 for the OEM version; a savings of over 27 percent.


Often, the warranty offered on OEM hard drives will be less than that for retail components. This can differ from one manufacturer to another, however, and changes often. In the case of the Seagate drive mentioned above, the warranty length is three years for the OEM version, and five years for the retail drive.

Are OEM Products Always the Same?

In the 1980s, when OEM components first became available to the public, it would be possible that an OEM product might have specifications differing slightly from its retail counterpart. OEM products were usually special-ordered by computer manufacturers who ordered components in lots of thousands of units at a time, and could save a significant amount of money by requesting that, for example, a hard drive be equipped with less cache memory than the retail version. This practice fell out of favor in the 1990s when computer hardware began to become more affordable, and today, it is virtually impossible to find an OEM component that differs from its retail counterpart. However, it is important to research a component fully before purchasing it. Do not assume that an OEM hard drive will always be the same as the retail version, as computer hardware trends are ever-changing.

This article was supplied by Gabriel Morgan from Constant Content.

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