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Record Throughput: Samsung Spinpoint H6 HM500LI, 500GB

Half a Terabyte On Your Notebook

notebook hard drive

Now let’s look at the brand new Samsung drive. The HM500LI is a new member of the Spinpoint M6 family, but it stores the same 500 GB as Hitachi’s Travelstar 5K500 on three platters. This makes this drive a great choice for portable storage applications, as well as compact notebook designs that require 2.5” SATA HDDs with 9.5 mm height. From our experience, it’s safe to say that the HM500LI should perform much better due to the increased data density. Let’s see if that’s the case.

Technical Details

The drives spin at 5,400 RPM and have 8MB of cache memory. Like Hitachi, Samsung offers only two versions of this product: 400 and 500GB. All smaller Spinpoint M6 drives are based on the same drive family, but they are based on a different storage density and per-platter capacity. Samsung uses a Serial ATA 3 Gb/s interface for the drive, as well.


Samsung also states an average access time of 12 ms, which translates into an effective access time of 19 ms. This is the slowest average access time we’ve yet measured in our test lab, and it has an impact on the PCMark Windows XP Startup benchmark.

However, the Spinpoint M6 HM500LI offers the fastest throughput we’ve ever measured for 2.5” hard drives: 76.5 MB/s is much faster than the 70 MB/s of its 320GB predecessor, and it’s faster than any of the competitors with the exception of flash-based SSDs. An almost 40 MB/s minimum transfer rate also is a new record for notebook hard drives. As a result, the HM500LI leads the file write benchmarks, and even dominated 7,200 RPM drives when it comes to throughput.

Another small downside is power consumption: the new HM500LI requires as much power as a 7,200 RPM drive, and clearly more power than Hitachi’s offerings.

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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!