Next-Gen 7,200 RPM Notebook Hard Drives


Although we found ups and downs for each of the four products, all the drives passed the basic requirements for high-performance notebook hard drives, with great benchmark results. However, you should not just go any purchase any of the four drives, as their characteristics mean that some are more suitable for specific applications.

#4 Samsung’s Spinpoint MP2 is a good performer, delivering great throughput of up to 86 MB/s, and dominating the PCMark05 application benchmark, which is pretty relevant. Yet the drive is not a suitable overall recommendation, as its access time and I/O performance are a bit weak, and it’s as power-hungry as first-generation 7,200 RPM drives by Hitachi and Seagate. In terms of efficiency, Samsung is simply not yet where it could be.

#3 The Hitachi Travelstar 7K320 offers balanced performance and delivers good results across all benchmarks, but it does not win a single one of them except the Windows XP startup benchmark of PCMark05. If you want maximum performance or efficiency you might want to look for another drive, but if you find this model installed in your new notebook there is no reason to worry—it’s a good product.

#2 Western Digital’s new Scorpio Black has arrived with a bang. It has the fastest access time and great I/O performance, beating all the other 2.5” hard drives. Though its throughput cannot quite match the transfer rates of the Seagate drive, WD manages to get excellent results in all of the benchmarks. And despite good but not exciting power consumption results, we found some surprises: WD implemented a sensible power management solution, which has the drive consume the least power at low-power idle and when playing DVD video off the HDD.

#1 Seagate Momentus 7200.3. We were looking at the four hard drives from a mobile user’s perspective, so we paid close attention to performance per watt ratings. Not only does Seagate hit new transfer rate records, but it also beats the competition by providing the best combination of low power consumption and high performance. It might not win all the benchmarks, but overall it is on top. Its lead over WD was very small, though.