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Three 5400 RPM Drives Serve Up Solid Results

Four 2.5" Hard Drives From 500 GB To 1 TB, Benchmarked
By , Achim Roos

As expected, the performance-oriented Hitachi Travelstar 7K750 leads the pack of our four new test candidates. It's a fast laptop-oriented disk to be sure, achieving the highest average sequential read and write rates we've ever measured from a 2.5" hard drive. However, it can‘t establish a significant lead in PCMark 7 or our I/O-based metrics. In some tests, it actually trails competing models, even though the other three samples are 5400 RPM drives. Comparing the Travelstar 7K750 to all previously-tested disks, it emerges as a solid performer and winds up in the upper third of our charts. Not bad.

The fact that we come away thinking Hitachi's 7K750 is only a so-so performer is colored by solid showings from its "green" competition. Even though the Hitachi Travelstar 5K1000, Toshiba MQ01ABD100, and Western Digital Scorpio Blue WD5000LPVT aren't optimized for performance, they still nip at the 7200 RPM drive's heels. As an added bonus, all three 5400 RPM disks offer low power consumption. The Hitachi Travelstar 5K1000 and Western Digital Scorpio Blue WD5000LPVT even beat the 7200 RPM drive in our performance-per-watt index.

Overall, the Western Digital Scorpio Blue WD5000LPVT gets quite close to the Hitachi Travelstar 7K75, while  the Hitachi Travelstar 5K1000 and Toshiba MQ01ABD100 fall behind. But this doesn’t mean they are slow; even the slowest disk in this test achieves almost 90 MB/s in our sequential read and write benchmarks.

As we wrap up, we want to again shine a spotlight on Advanced Format, which facilitates higher data density and helps finesse 1 TB of capacity into a 9.5 mm Z-height, necessary for broad notebook compatibility. Although higher data density helps as well, this has an undesirable side effect. Mainly, seek times continue going up. This is because it's becoming more and more difficult to position and stabilize microscopic read/write heads over the correct track. This might not be a big deal for slow-turning repositories for user data, but it could sabotage attempts to build high-performance disks in the future.

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