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Perfect Notebook Storage: Seven 2.5” 500 GB Drives

Perfect Notebook Storage: Seven 2.5” 500 GB Drives
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Several hard drive manufacturers claim that drives with “round number” capacities such as 500 GB or 1000 GB sell better than those with sizes such as 640 GB or 750 GB. So, although it has been a while since 2.5” notebook drives reached 500 GB capacity, we expect this size to be popular for a while.

We collected all of the available drives for this big roundup.

500 GB Now and Then

The first 500 GB drives by Hitachi and Samsung, as well as Fujitsu, used three physical platters to reach this capacity, making them somewhat unusual. Most notebook designs require 2.5” hard drives that have a standard height of 9.5 mm, while three-platter 2.5” drives are typically 12.5 mm tall. This is the case for the Hitachi Travelstar 5K500, but not for Samsung’s 500 GB HM500LI—the Korean company was the first to cram three platters into a 9.5 mm design. All of the other drives, including Samsung’s new HM500JI that didn’t arrive in time for this roundup, use two platters and a 9.5 mm height to achieve their 500 GB capacity.

The advantages of a lower platter count are less mechanical strain, lower production cost, less heat dissipation, lower power requirements, higher data density and hence typically increased throughput. Manufacturers obviously will prefer this design, then, and used three platters only when it was necessary to hit the capacity point.

Cost?

The great part about the fierce competition in the hard drive arena is that prices have been going down faster than the stock market (Ed.: Prior to the current rally, that is). Most of the drives we reviewed are available for less than $100. Keep in mind that we’re talking about 500 GB notebook flagships here. Can you imagine a top model processor or graphics card being sold for this amount of money? Crazy.

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  • 4 Hide
    doomtomb , June 18, 2009 9:43 AM
    Seagate dominates the performance sector and Western Digital is hot at their heels. Nothing new here.
  • 2 Hide
    Anonymous , June 18, 2009 12:14 PM
    Too bad no real world tests have been performed. Techreport.com has performed about 20 real world tests, showing that the WD5000BEVT is generally faster than the Seagate 7200.4.
  • 0 Hide
    Zoonie , June 18, 2009 12:55 PM
    Some temp readings would've been nice.
  • 3 Hide
    Pei-chen , June 18, 2009 1:06 PM
    Same old same old. HDD are too alike these days. All the small manufactures have been wiped out already so just about every brand is a safe bet (except Seagate and their impossible to fix firmware issues).
  • 2 Hide
    meribela , June 18, 2009 1:53 PM
    Pei-chen,

    I'm avoiding Seagate for a while. Bought two of the 1.5TB and lost all my data before I had them sent in and the firmware updated. Shameful they let faulty drives like these out the door to consumers :( 

    Then again, 3 of my passports and my only worldbook(sp?) also crashed on me and I had to get them replace. Even now one of my passport refuses to power up except only on my work laptop. I need extra power to it for it to show on many computers. WD support isn't any help, but Seagate was fantastic. That's just my experience...bad luck here, good luck there :) 
  • 5 Hide
    cadder , June 18, 2009 3:08 PM
    The beginning of the article asks "which is best". IMO "best" would be the one that lasts longest and safeguards your data. This was not tested and maybe it can't be tested, but if Tom's could figure out a way to test this or evaluate historical data then that would make for a good article.
  • 0 Hide
    zodiacfml , June 18, 2009 3:13 PM
    only read the last pages but pretty useful article since i'm thinking of using my 2 year old low end laptop as a file and backup server instead of buying new and building an Atom system. :) 
  • -1 Hide
    Casper42 , June 18, 2009 11:23 PM
    Phil72Too bad no real world tests have been performed. Techreport.com has performed about 20 real world tests, showing that the WD5000BEVT is generally faster than the Seagate 7200.4.


    I agree, would have been nice to have some real world tests to see how speed and power affect battery life.
    For instance, a faster drive may take more power when you stress it, but it also gets the job done faster and drops back to idle faster as well.
    Need to take some web surfing / application usage and DVD playback. For the DVD Playback you can either play back from DVD, playback 10 movies that were ripped to the HDD, or both to contrast and compare.
  • -1 Hide
    Casper42 , June 18, 2009 11:26 PM
    Arg, meant to say:
    Need to take some web surfing / application usage and DVD playback and loop them (With some pauses in between on the Web/App ones)and check 2 things. How fast each bench loop completes and how long the laptop's battery lasts.
  • -1 Hide
    dezonio2 , June 19, 2009 5:00 AM
    Well, good to know I outfitted my Macbook Pro with the Seagate 7200rpm drive. Boot time on OSX 10.4.11 is 20 seconds. From dead cold to ready to use in 20 seconds. Ridiculous. I am not even gonna mention the part where I can have Logic Studio AND Final cut Studio 2 installed and have room for projects and sessions. I do prefer WD but I am happy with this one... Battery life changed slightly compared to Fujitsu 120 5400rpm that was in there before. I got mine recently from the second batch and that seems to be a little more reliable than when the drives first dropped.
  • -1 Hide
    xsamitt , June 20, 2009 1:53 PM
    Tune in Monday when When it's back to more SSD or overclocking contest.Not only are the articles almost all dried up here at Toms but it's usually the same type of articles all the time.Am I the only one who thinks Toms is sick of the Computer industry altogether so they give us meager attempt to think they even have an interested anymore in PC's at all?
  • -1 Hide
    Anonymous , June 22, 2009 8:13 PM
    Does not work in HP Laptop, I have a 8710 w and the 500bg will not work, has some bios or driver issue that HP cannot fix. Does anyone have or know of a fix? matside@aol.com
  • -1 Hide
    Anonymous , June 23, 2009 7:02 PM
    What I'd like to know is what the power differences mean in real life laptop usage.
  • -1 Hide
    andy_newton , June 25, 2009 4:12 AM
    Learn our lessons from Barracuda 7200.11 1TB, 1.5TB, and 2TB well!!!

    On top of performance, batt life, and everything else: Data being accessible AT ALL TIMES is always the top priority.

    Seagate needs to take some take off (or else better off don't come back at all) and re-learn from scratch on how to make a hard drive firmware that won't brick.

    I'm surprised THG still hasn't benchmarked the post-recovery 7200.11 firmware and compare it with the old one. Perhaps, seagate pays THG some $$$ not to do so???

    Go figure
  • -1 Hide
    st430 , June 25, 2009 8:01 PM
    seagate...
    I have a 500G seagate on my xps 1330 laptop and PS3 and it's super fast.
    nothing wrong with it , running it for months now.
    don't see any firmware issue either ....it's only on the first gen drives that has problem.
    I mean for 130$ ...what else do you expect.
    as for 1.5Tb...I got 4 in my server downloading torrent all day long and it didn'd die. There is always a few % people that got the bad drives and they will be the one posting on blogs complaining...
  • -1 Hide
    Anonymous , June 30, 2009 3:57 AM
    Using 13inch MacBook unibody. Replaced stock Fujitsu 160gb with WD 500gb Scorpio Blue based on reviews stating what a good performer it is. Found WD drive to not be much of an improvement in perceived performance. Returned WD and purchased 7200.4 500gb. Drive is much faster in program opening and general disk activity such as browsing iPhoto or opening iTunes and browsing library. Start up and shut-down is much better speed wise. There is no additional drive noise or vibration as compared to the Fujitsu and battery life seems unchanged. My drive has the latest firmware update.
  • 0 Hide
    position , June 30, 2009 8:52 AM
    Hi,
    Well i like all the products of Samsung company specially its hardware of Computer and other computer related components.

    http://www.samsungunlocking.com
  • -1 Hide
    thetrystero , July 20, 2009 2:44 AM
    anyone with a mid-09 MBP + WD blue scorpio experiencing clicking noises? how's the performance boost/noise level vs stock?
  • -1 Hide
    ragman , July 26, 2009 1:14 AM
    Why not include some real world tests in a Playstation 3 ?? As these drives are going to be used in that application for those that need to upgrade from the early 40 and 60GB models.

    Have been told by Sony/Playstation Australia to steer clear from the 7200s as they can cause skipping on soundtracks in games which have the music stored on the HDD.

    Would be nice to have a definitive guide in more than just PC terms.
  • -1 Hide
    marrinty , August 10, 2009 10:31 AM
    I have installed this drive too in my Macbook Pro but I experience a longer boot up time. Before it was 30 seconds, now up till 40-60 seconds. Anybody got the same problem?

    Application start-up is fast.
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