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Next-Gen 7,200 RPM Notebook Hard Drives

Next-Gen 7,200 RPM Notebook Hard Drives
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160 GB, 200 GB, 250 GB, 320 GB: It’s amazing to follow the fast pace of progress in the notebook hard drive sector. Only six months ago, we looked at high-performance notebook hard drives, which had reached 200 GB capacities at that time. The latest high-performance product generation has not only increased the maximum capacity to a comfortable 320 gigabytes, but performance has also increased along the way.

Larger, faster, and more efficient: new 7,200 RPM notebook drives by Hitachi, Samsung, Seagate and Western Digital.

High-Performance or Mainstream

When we refer to high-performance notebook drives, we’re talking about 7,200 RPM spindle speed units in the 2.5” form factor with a 9.5 mm height. Most 2.5” hard drives have this height of 9.5 mm, which allows them to be installed into all notebook computers designed for this industry standard. Some ultra-portable notebooks require 1.8” disk drives, though, while others offer additional space for 12.5 mm 2.5” drives (Hitachi’s 500-GB Travelstar 5K500 is a 12.5 mm drive).

Drive Features

High-performance drives running at 7,200 RPM typically get warmer, produce more noise and do not offer the same high capacities as mainstream drives that spin at a more conservative 5,400 RPM. Cache capacities vary between 8 MB and 16 MB, although the difference isn’t noticeable in typical use scenarios. All 2.5” high-end hard drives come with Serial ATA interfaces and support native command queuing (NCQ), which allows drives to reorder incoming commands for more efficient execution. All of this also applies to most of the mainstream drives. Whether SATA/150 or SATA/300 interface speeds are used does not matter in everyday life, as 2.5” drives cannot even come close to the 150 MB/s bandwidth of first-generation Serial ATA.

Some drives come with built-in encryption, while others feature a free-fall sensor, which is capable of parking the heads if increased acceleration is detected. This helps to avoid physical damage, if, for example, you drop your notebook by accident. Power management is another feature to which we dedicate additional testing in this article, as some drives offer more sophisticated power management than others.

Performance Counts

2.5” drives running at 4,200 RPM will die out by the end of the year, as the difference in cost, noise, heat and power consumption between 4,200 and 5,400 RPM is little, while performance is noticeably better at 5,400 RPM. The next step to 7,200 RPM further shortens access time and provides improved transfer rates at the expense of capacity. Since hard drives have always been the slowest core system component, this is usually a worthwhile trade off.

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  • -4 Hide
    thomasxstewart , August 29, 2008 12:10 AM
    Very good article, yet wonder why RAID would be used, as raid primarily increases speed by using additional platters to reduce access time. as SSD has NO Platters, NO RAID Increase. For mirroring, its merely expensive loss, as unlikely to wear out before entire system wears out. Special external disk would suffice for mirroring.

    Signed:p HYSICIAN THOMAS STEWART VON DRASHEK M.D.
  • 0 Hide
    Anonymous , August 29, 2008 2:07 AM
    Not sure where you got the mention of raid from in the article, but regardless, RAID has nothing to do with platters. Its simply how data is dealt with across multiple DRIVES.

    With SSD's you get a pretty big performance increase from using raid-0. It works the same as with a hard drive with data being split amongst the two drives so less time is needed to write and read since the work is being divided.

    Just google SSD and Raid and you'll find better examples and benchmarks.
  • 0 Hide
    Anonymous , August 29, 2008 2:17 AM
    I'm surprised that the lack of encryption on most of the drives wasn't mentioned in the conclusion. It's a deal breaker for every drive mentioned except the Hitachi, unless you plan to leave your laptop locked to a desk.
  • 0 Hide
    Luscious , August 29, 2008 2:28 AM
    That Seagate drive sound like an amazing upgrade for something like the HP mininote. I sure hope some speedy 500GB drives arrive next.
  • 1 Hide
    Anonymous , August 29, 2008 2:55 AM
    It would have been nice if the prices & performance charts were also given in the conclusion. Maybe it's there somewhere in the middle pages, but I really don't have time to read 17 pages. Most of the time it's just the first and the last pages.
  • -1 Hide
    thomasxstewart , August 29, 2008 2:55 AM
    thanks for reply, RAID was added after article was posted & its here:

    Eight Memoright state-of-the-art Flash SSDs battle Seagate’s Cheetahhttp://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cheetah 15K.5 and Savvio 10K.2 in RAID configurations. Flash SSDs turn out to be far superior when it comes to I/O-intensive workloads, while they don’t necessarily beat mechanical hard drives when it comes to throughput.

    I read it fast & comparison is to HDD Raid. Opps, its on p.3 bottom & just glanced as read it as admendium.Basic point is still SSD works without RAID better than HDD.I just was trying to State SSD ?isn't RAID, unless it is & might be worse for it?. NEXT:

    In theRegisture few weeks ago Server SSD was listed with pics of in production SSD that cut 4.5 Gb/s data output. I thought, how powerful, what is this? Well, while watching obama I got idea. first new SSD is DDR2, so how could that be SSD or even drive & lets face it at 4.5 gb/s who needs work divided? yet heres what I thought up: That new SSD that is so powerful & server & DDR2 cann't be turned off. That would work. turn it on, load it up & leave it running. 4.5 gb/s from one SSD. BTW i once before mentioned SSD RAID being NOT same as Platter RAID & I got same answer you gave today, so maybe its possible, yet Stats are next step.
    Whole thing is proof, NEVER TURN YOUR BRAIN OFF. Hahahaahhh.

    Signed:p HYSICIAN THOMAS STEWART VON DRASHEK M.D.
  • 0 Hide
    Anonymous , August 29, 2008 4:46 AM
    i install SSD and yes boot time faster and applications run faster but only if you work with one at the time. If two or more you feel like 10 years ago working on P4 or P3
  • 1 Hide
    Anonymous , August 29, 2008 5:06 AM
    I like the review but don't agree with the conclusion. The WD 3200BEKT is faster in every non synthetic benchmark. The Seagate 7200.3 is only the fastest in synthetic benchmarks. So if you're after real life performance go for the WD. Check the review on Techreport for more information.
  • 0 Hide
    Anonymous , August 29, 2008 4:34 PM
    Hitachi, Samsung, Seagate and Western Digital send their latest high-performance notebook drives into battle, fighting for the ultimate balance between performance and efficiency.

    Next-Gen 7,200 RPM Notebook Hard Drives : Read more
  • -2 Hide
    NotSoParanoid , August 30, 2008 1:58 AM
    I agree with the poster that said encryption is a must for portable devices -- only a complete moron would walk around with an unencrypted notebook these days. Encryption is now a *fundamental* requirement for not only government agencies, but also most companies. So the comparison as it stands is fundamentally flawed. the tests should be repeated with the hardware encryption enabled on the Hitachi drive and a comparable AES full disk software based encryption running on the others to give us an idea how the drives would perform in a real usage scenario.
  • 0 Hide
    Anonymous , August 31, 2008 1:07 AM
    I agree with the other post, in that encryption should results should have been included in the results. I am looking to upgrade my laptop hard drive and after having a laptop stolen last year, my next drive will be one that has full hardware encryption. THG, please start including benchmarks and reviews of drives with encryption. Thanks, appreciate your work.

    Mike
  • 0 Hide
    TakeyMcTaker , September 1, 2008 8:05 AM
    Why would encryption hardware need to be a part of the hard drive? It is better for the BIOS to take care of the encryption/decryption, and key entry at boot time. That existing BIOS feature makes encryption a moot point for a performance article like this. You guys are just buying the wrong notebooks, if you need encryption on the hard drive.
  • 0 Hide
    NotSoParanoid , September 1, 2008 8:01 PM
    I am aware of no "BIOS Encryption" which is certified by NIST as secure under FIPS-140-2. There are certified encrypted drive solutions. When someone delivers a certified BIOS encryption I'll consider it -- though there is a risk: with an encrypted drive, if the original machine fails and I know the keys, I can recover by simply installing the drive in a new system. With "BIOS Encryption" the drive is tied to exactly one machine. Better have good backups. ;-)
  • 0 Hide
    djfourmoney , September 2, 2008 5:15 AM
    Just in time for PS3's....
  • -1 Hide
    Adam03 , September 3, 2008 10:12 PM
    I am not interested in mechanical drives any more - they are yesterday's technology. Give me SSD at its full potential. Mechanical drives will soon become yesterday's equivalent of the steam engine. Why do these companies bother wasting their time "tweaking" storage space on mechanical drives when we would rather get our hands on a 300 Gig SSD ?
  • 0 Hide
    Anonymous , September 17, 2008 4:50 PM
    Do I get this right?

    The WD is faster when it comes to access tme, working with small files - e.g. office files - and consumes considerably less power with DVD files (thinking of those long train rides...)? How much more battery life would that give me app. on a MacBook Pro?

    The Seagate basically is faster when it comes to handling larger files and has a lower power consumption on average?

    Does anyone have insights on the noise?
  • 0 Hide
    Anonymous , October 7, 2008 12:36 PM
    I can't find the ST9320421AS anywhere when I search for someone who has them in stock. Anyone know why?

    http://edbpriser.dk/Products/Listprices.asp?ID=466099&searchArea=products&Soegeord=ST9320421AS
  • 0 Hide
    Anonymous , October 9, 2008 5:43 AM
    The conclusions regarding the lowest idle power do not match the graphic. The wrong WD drive is shown as being the reviewed drive. The graphic shows the WD2500BEVS as being the reviewed drive with a .75W idle when the reviewed drive is supposed to be the WD3200BEKT which has the second highest idle of .97W of the 4 tested drives. The conclusion says that the WD & SG drives are both less than .8W idle which is wrong. Only the SG drive is under .8W.
  • 0 Hide
    Anonymous , November 3, 2008 1:22 PM
    All this for $99 on Newegg. Why Can't I see what I'm typing here?

    Weird.

    http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16822136280
  • 0 Hide
    kultex , November 6, 2008 8:50 AM
    very interresting and informativ article, but beside all the power and performance ratings, for me noise is the most important rating for a decision - could a add perhaps some lines for the 7200rpm drives?
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