Here's a little known fact that could speed up your life.  Most SATA hard drives in the market today ship in 1.5 Gb/s mode instead of the 3.0 Gb/s mode they are capable of.  I know for sure that Seagate and Maxtor both ship retail drives with jumpers set to the slower mode.  I can only assume that this is for compatibility reasons.  Unless you need the compatibility though, you can get some extra speed out of your drive by changing the jumpers.  Look on the drive or in the manual for which jumpers to change.  It usually inolves merely removing the jumper but check to be sure.