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Three Platters: Hitachi Travelstar 5K500, 500GB

Half a Terabyte On Your Notebook

notebook hard drive

We would have reviewed this drive much earlier, but Hitachi did not send a review sample right away. Hence the Travelstar 5K500 has been on the market for a few months now; it is still Hitachi’s top model, though. As it is based on a three platter design and a height of 12.5 mm, it will not fit into many mainstream notebook designs that require 9.5 mm drives.

However, there are other applications where the Travelstar 7K500 makes perfect sense. Portable hard drives and similar solutions are one possible area, as are compact home PCs based on Intel’s Atom processor or other small form factor solutions. Wherever users want to combine low noise, low thermals and high capacity, this drive can find a place.

Technical Details

Hitachi offers two models, 400GB and 500GB, although the price difference is small. As you can tell from the model number, the drive spins at 5,400 RPM. Serial ATA 3 Gb/s was chosen to connect to host PCs. All drives have an 8 MB cache memory and a specified operating temperature of 5-55 °C.


Hitachi states an average seek time of 12 ms, which translates into an average access time of 18.5 ms in our benchmark tests. This isn’t quite a fantastic result, as other 5,400 RPM 2.5” hard drives reach 16-17 ms, but it is fast enough for storage applications and mainstream systems.

The maximum throughput of almost 63 MB/s is also only average: Hitachi’s double-platter Travelstar 5K320 is faster at almost 65 MB/s. However, the three platter Travelstar 5K500 is as efficient as Hitachi says: the manufacturer states that it is proud of maintaining almost the same power envelope for this model as that of its 320GB predecessor, which we can confirm: a 3.0 W maximum power requirement and 1.0 W idle power are excellent for a three platter solution.

notebook hard drive

notebook hard drive

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  • 0 Hide
    Terry Kennedy , July 9, 2008 6:17 AM
    The article says there is a 2.5" 320GB PATA drive - what is it? The largest I've seen is the WD2500BEVE.
  • 0 Hide
    danwat1234 , July 9, 2008 7:01 AM
    TYPO:: Your article mistakenly say Hitachi Deskstar when it should say; "Hitachi Travelstar", all throughout all the benchmark results...

    Terry, I too have not heard of a laptop drive larger than 250GB that is PATA.
  • 0 Hide
    magicandy , July 9, 2008 11:03 AM
    Samsung has now brought down the height back down to 9.5 mm at this capacity point.

  • 0 Hide
    hrodward , July 9, 2008 11:29 AM
    Platters 2 3 3
    shouldn't it be 2 for the Samsung?


    Interface SATA 3 Gb/s SATA 3 Gb/s SATA 3 Gb/s
    shouldn't it be 1.5 for the Samsung?
  • 0 Hide
    Anonymous , July 9, 2008 4:02 PM
    Patrick and Achim,
    try setting the drives to sata 1.5gbs instead of 3.0. the single drives do not need that much interface bandwidth, but the 3.0 interface uses more power.
  • 0 Hide
    cangelini , July 9, 2008 4:29 PM
    Terry--you are absolutely correct. Reference fixed to reflect your observation.

    Dan--We're fixing the charts right now and will have them updated as soon as they are ready.

    Magic--Axed the redundant "down"

    Hrod--according to the story's author Samsung's original launch documentation said 2 platters and 1.5 Gb/s. It has since been fixed and everything in the piece updated to reflect that the Spinpoint is actually a three-platter device with a 3 Gb/s interface.

    Thank you for the feedback guys!
  • 0 Hide
    Anonymous , July 10, 2008 12:38 AM
    Guys why arent these HDD's on the charts, they have been reviewed by you and are close to the 2nd and 3rd fastest disks...?,1776-8.html
  • 0 Hide
    Anonymous , July 10, 2008 12:44 AM
    comparable chart found here,1776-5.html
  • 0 Hide
    Luscious , July 10, 2008 2:14 AM
    It would be nice if the Samsung drive wasn't such a power hog - I would love to have a fast 500GB drive in something like a HP mininote for using as a portable movie player. But getting 1.5TB raid 0 in a Clevo D900 now doesn't sound bad either...
  • 0 Hide
    ltcommander_data , July 12, 2008 3:20 AM
    A nice detailed review as usual.

    Any chance that you could do a review of 2.5" 7200rpm 320GB HDDs. I believe Hitachi, Seagate, Western Digital, and Samsung all have them now. I'm waiting for someone to do a comprehensive review before buying one to upgrade my laptop. I would think that Hitachi's might be the fastest given the performance of the 7k200, but I've been hearing good things about the WD 320GB Black so I guess we'll see.
  • 0 Hide
    Ivan X , September 23, 2008 8:30 AM
    Two errors: the opening paragraph claims that Samsung's 500 GB drive uses two platters, when it actually uses three (however, the detail page for this product gets it right).

    Also, 12.5mm was not the "initial" height of laptop drives -- there was a point in time when those were considered the slim ones, as there were 17mm and 19mm height drives before them (I used SCSI models in my PowerBook). Searching for "19mm laptop drive" will verify this.
  • 0 Hide
    MacUser , December 4, 2008 4:38 AM
    How long do you think it will take for these issues to get worked out?
    - Seeking the best performance 500GB drive for my MacBook Pro ASAP!