I am in the market for a new laptop (like many people here) and while I'm not ready to get one quite yet I have been looking around and reading up on what to look for.
One thing I have noticed from many companies is that the "gaming" laptops come with 5400 speed hard drives by default. I had thought that these had gone out of style long ago except in ultraportables and lower end systems. I would like to know what you guys all say about them. Specificly, with a large amount of RAM availible, does the hd speed really matter anymore? It has a larger amount of cache, but it is also trying to cache more data, so i would assume that the HD is still very active in gaming. What are the performance differences between identical systems with a 5400 and a 7200 HD?
Yes, worth it. You might lose some storage, but the speed increase is worth it if you are serious about going that route. I had a 5400rpm drive in my Inspirion 9300, then got a 7200rpm 8mb cache drive...it was like night and day the first time I booted up and used it (of course, after I installed XP).
It does help, but you might only really notice on boot times and loading games.
The faster the platters spin in any hard drive, the faster data is accessed. WD Raptors are the "fastest" drives due to their 10K rpm platters. For years SCSI drives blew the pants off IDE drives because of, but not solely, faster platter rpm's.
Whether it's worth upgrading is really up to you. If you can get a faster drive for a reasonable price over the slower, then why not.