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Reviewed: 2.5" Notebook Hard Drives From Toshiba And Hitachi

Reviewed: 2.5" Notebook Hard Drives From Toshiba And Hitachi
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With more than 100 MB/s throughput and 500GB of storage capacity for notebooks, Hitachi’s Travelstar 7K500 and the Toshiba MK5056GSY face the established Seagate Momentus 7200.4. Were the two newer drives worth waiting for? We benchmark them to find out.

It’s a bit weird to see that Seagate's Momentus 7200.4 has been available for more than half a year without much competition. Western Digital still doesn't offer a 7,200 RPM Scorpio Black drive above 320GB, but Hitachi and Toshiba have finally caught up. Today we're looking at the Travelstar 7K500 and the Toshiba MK5056GSY, which both offer up to 500GB and transfer rates of more than 100 MB/s.

First- and second-generation notebook hard drives with a 7,200 RPM spindle speed aimed at maximum performance by increasing throughput and shortening latency. They didn’t disappoint. Storage performance has been one of the few remaining weaknesses when comparing mobile systems with desktops, so any decent improvement in mobile storage performance can be very noticeable. However, the additional performance comes at the expense of increased power consumption. Today's industry puts more focus on efficiency than in years past, so this is no small issue. High-speed drives are no longer inefficient, and performance drives are even closing in on mainstream drives in terms of capacity.

Although WD has released 750GB and 1TB 2.5” hard drives, these have to be considered non-standard, at least when it comes to notebook applications. Those drives utilize three rotating platters, and hence require a 2.5” drive housing with 12.5 mm z-height. Standard notebook HDDs are based on 9.5 mm designs. Here, 640GB has been the capacity limit, with 750GB probably coming up in the first half of 2010.

The two new drives by Hitachi and Toshiba fill a gap. Previous high-performance 7,200 RPM notebook drives were limited to 320GB, which may not be sufficient for enthusiasts. In this article, we’ll compare these two to Seagate’s established Momentus 7200.4 and find out just how impressive these two newcomers might be.

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  • 0 Hide
    wintermint , June 10, 2010 6:17 AM
    Can you also benchmark the noise level next time? I prefer a quiet PC :x
  • 2 Hide
    rocky1234 , June 10, 2010 7:15 AM
    wintermintCan you also benchmark the noise level next time? I prefer a quiet PC :x


    these are laptop drives so by nature they make very little noise.
  • 0 Hide
    sonofliberty08 , June 10, 2010 8:20 AM
    wonder how is the performance when put 2 7K500 on RAID 0 compare to the 3.5" 7200RPM HDD
  • 0 Hide
    LaloFG , June 10, 2010 9:22 AM
    Great to see more variety at 500GB.

    Nice article, except for the Vantage benchmark, i hope someday Tomshardware drop that type of benchmarks (same in games articles).
  • 0 Hide
    ietrinidad , June 10, 2010 11:25 AM
    The WD7500BPVT from Western Digital has a 9.5mm height, not 12.5mm as you had mentioned as being non-standard. Whereas the WD10TPVT has a 12.5mm height. I also personally own a WD7500BPVT, and it works great in my 15" MacBook Pro Spring 2009 Model.
  • 0 Hide
    Pei-chen , June 10, 2010 2:32 PM
    Why these drives aren’t 640GB? Clearly they are using two 320GB platters so 640GB is the max size and not 500GB.
  • 0 Hide
    wittermark , June 10, 2010 2:32 PM
    HUH?!!?!? why is this news? I've had the Hitachi 7K500 (HTS725050A9A364) for over 4 month now, how is this news?!!?!
  • 0 Hide
    bmgoodman , June 10, 2010 2:50 PM
    Hey, why didn't you include the Seagate Momentus XT Hybrid in your charts? Would make it much easier to compare! Thanks.
  • 0 Hide
    zoemayne , June 10, 2010 4:46 PM
    no one ever benchmarks temperatures. you should do that.
  • 0 Hide
    puddleglum , June 10, 2010 6:11 PM
    Hmmm. So are these 4096 Byte sector drives?
  • 0 Hide
    Anonymous , June 10, 2010 9:09 PM
    Western Digital WD6400BEVT is a 640G drive according to WD. All the charts have it at 500G.
  • 0 Hide
    pinkfloydminnesota , June 10, 2010 9:51 PM
    Temperatures don't affect hdd life except at the extremes.
  • 0 Hide
    pinkfloydminnesota , June 10, 2010 9:56 PM
    nor do they effect it
  • 0 Hide
    killerclick , June 10, 2010 11:06 PM
    Drive selection should be guided not by performance or cost but by reliability. Any extra megabyte per second or a few dollars off is nothing if the drive fails after a few months. For example the current Seagate drives have big reliability problems (check out user reviews on Newegg).
  • 0 Hide
    Anonymous , June 11, 2010 4:09 AM
    and how do u benchmark reliability?
  • 0 Hide
    dEAne , June 11, 2010 8:45 AM
    Yes sir there are lots of things you can read on their web site but how reliable they are no one can tell until you bought one and it fails.
  • 0 Hide
    killerclick , June 11, 2010 2:15 PM
    As I said, check out user reviews on Newegg. Newegg lists users who bought that particular product from them so you know they're not bogus reviews. If a Seagate drive has 20% one-egg (worst rating) reviews and Samsung drive has 8% one-egg reviews, that says a lot about the quality and reliability of the drives. Of course this only works for popular products but it's better than simply hoping you're buying a reliable drive.
  • 0 Hide
    conebone96 , June 11, 2010 6:19 PM
    My Hp Dv7 came with two MK5056GSY (raid 0) they are very impressive no vibrations to speak of and extremely quite as well I should mention that HP does have jell cushions on each contact point but very impressive.

  • 0 Hide
    spamurnz , July 19, 2010 8:46 PM
    I've been looking for the best/most reliable 2.5" 500Gb 7200rpm hard drive for my MacBook Pro. After all of that research the Toshiba sounds like a very solid hard drive. Still, it's only been out for a month or two (7/19/10) So I just can't be sure. I was about to grab the Momentus Xt, but I'm scared after hearing some of the reviews about reliability.
  • 0 Hide
    Anonymous , August 3, 2010 1:22 PM
    I am using this drive in the Macbook Pro 991. just upgraded two days ago. working great! silent and love it's speed. Friends of mine keep having problems with Seagate and WD.