Seagate Laptop Ultrathin HDD Review: 500 GB In 5 mm Of Space

When you look at it from the side, Seagate's Laptop Ultrathin HDD is almost easy to miss. Measuring just 5 mm tall, it’s one of the thinnest hard drives in existence. We got our hands on the 500 GB model to see if it can keep up with larger disks.

Seagate's Laptop Ultrathin HDD is about as thick as a stack of six credit cards. Let that sink in. With a Z-height of 5 mm, the hard drive is just over half as thick as the 9.5 mm you expect from a typical 2.5" disk, and those are already pretty darned thin. Additionally, these drives weigh in at 93 g. So, not only are they crazy-tiny, but they're also ultra-light, too. This should be exciting news for the folks who want plenty of capacity from their mobile devices, but are still sensitive to cost (as in, they can't necessarily afford a 256 GB or 512 GB SSD). Naturally, then, Seagate is aiming its newest Laptop Ultrathin HDDs at small laptops and Ultrabooks.

Other than its form factor and weight, the Laptop Ultrathin HDD's other technical specifications are fairly similar to its peers. The drive family employs one platter spinning at 5400 RPM, features 16 MB of data cache, and communicates across a 6 Gb/s SATA interface.

The line-up is three models strong, including the 320 GB ST320LT030, the 500 GB ST500LT032, and, another 500 GB version that sports automatic encryption. According to Seagate, the latter is compliant with Trusted Computing Group standards for Full Disk Encryption.

5, 7, and 9.5 mm hard drives5, 7, and 9.5 mm hard drives

Of course, as we know, just because a product's technical specifications look familiar doesn't mean that measured performance is going to sync up. Let's have a look at how Seagate's Laptop Ultrathin HDD stacks up to the thicker competition.

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    Top Comments
  • razor512
    For the hard drive being benchmarked, is it possible for tomshardware to color the text to make them easier to find in the list?

    for example http://i.imgur.com/VXwTs6y.jpg

    it only takes about 3 seconds to do (even faster if you are in the process of making the chart and not changing colors in post)
    29
  • Other Comments
  • nevilence
    makes ya wonder how small this format can go. impressive.
    9
  • razor512
    For the hard drive being benchmarked, is it possible for tomshardware to color the text to make them easier to find in the list?

    for example http://i.imgur.com/VXwTs6y.jpg

    it only takes about 3 seconds to do (even faster if you are in the process of making the chart and not changing colors in post)
    29
  • Someone Somewhere
    Quote:
    Its main selling point is the fact that it's only 5 mm thick, instead of the 9.5"

    Think you meant 9.5mm there.

    At least it's not got proprietary connectors like the WD 5mm ones do. Think you need to add one of those to the benchmarks though - it's Seagate's biggest competition.
    5
  • slomo4sho
    This would be a good choice for a mITX build when you want budget storage to complement a SSD.
    -4
  • Someone Somewhere
    Not really; it'll cost significantly more per GB than a 9.5mm drive, but all the bays are fine with the thicker drives.
    1
  • slomo4sho
    Anonymous said:
    Not really; it'll cost significantly more per GB than a 9.5mm drive, but all the bays are fine with the thicker drives.


    Regular thickness drives are $60-80 and this one is mentioned to be under $100 with no price given for the consumer market. I wouldn't mind paying a small premium for a drive that utilizes 53% of the area of a 9.5mm drive.
    -3
  • Someone Somewhere
    The thing is there's nothing you can do with the extra space; it's a couple of millimeters in the middle of an HDD cage
    6
  • XngXtuHl
    No point in 5 mm HDD, any laptop can install regular 9 mm HDD
    More expensive, more slower
    -6
  • Flying-Q
    Please Tom's, get rid of the new format for pictures having the caption as an alpha-blended banner overlapping the bottom of the picture. This article's second picture, which attempts to illustrate the thinness of the new drive, is ruined by the new captioning method. Use some intelligence and put the caption UNDER the picture. This is the way that has worked for decades in both print and online. Why change something that works for a system that fails?
    6
  • Someone Somewhere
    Anonymous said:
    No point in 5 mm HDD, any laptop can install regular 9 mm HDD
    More expensive, more slower


    Nope, ultrabooks often have 7mm slots or none, and soon I'd expect that to be 5mm.
    4
  • m32
    XngXtuHl, this HD is really about fitting in the 'ultra-book' form factor.
    4
  • slomo4sho
    Anonymous said:
    The thing is there's nothing you can do with the extra space; it's a couple of millimeters in the middle of an HDD cage


    Who said anything about a HDD cage?
    1
  • razor512
    There is one interesting use that I can think of. A new laptop, in place of the DVD drive, you can have 2 slots for ultra thin hard drives in addition to a standard SSD.

    Allowing for a lot of extra storage, or RAID 1 bulk storage since it is common place for laptops to use SSD's now but it is also well known that you should always backup your important data and keep bulk data off of the SSD. (SSD= OS and applications only)
    0
  • Tuishimi
    @someone somewhere

    Remember the old wash tub disk drive disk packs? Even they were only like 6" tall tho'. :)
    0
  • jaber2
    Why not go with SSD? stop using these mechanical drives already, when I shop for monitor I can't find crt anymore, lets make it the same.
    0
  • lamorpa
    jaber2 said, "Why not go with SSD? stop using these mechanical drives already, when I shop for monitor I can't find crt anymore, lets make it the same."

    You can get an answer to your question in an article on this subject - the article on this page (if you read it)
    -1
  • Leamon
    This technology should be used with iPod classics! They're so unpopular because the only ones who buy one are people with alot of music and videos, and the highest capacity they offer is 160Gb. That's not very much for movie files, especially HD/ Bluray ones. Apple might be better off adopting technology like this!
    0
  • Onus
    I'd have to wonder about the durability of a drive like this, especially in a tablet or other thin form factor that might flex, even a little.
    0
  • danwat1234
    Anonymous said:
    This technology should be used with iPod classics! They're so unpopular because the only ones who buy one are people with alot of music and videos, and the highest capacity they offer is 160Gb. That's not very much for movie files, especially HD/ Bluray ones. Apple might be better off adopting technology like this!

    The current hard drive based ipods use 1.8" 1 platter drives, not sure of the thickness, 7mm?
    so they'd have to have a larger chassis in length/width but not as much thickness.
    With current platter densities, Apple could put in a 250GB 1.8" 1 platter drive in their ipods
    0
  • restrain_oligopolies
    Reliability?
    I'm more interested in reliability than speed.
    One would suspect 1 platter to be more reliable than 2, 3, or 4 platters.
    The article doesn't mention how many heads, 1 or 2.
    Again, I suspect 1 head more reliable than 2 heads.
    Unfortunately, Tomshardware can't test 5 year reliability, but there might be data somewhere on improved reliability of 1 platter and of 1 head.
    0