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Toshiba MQ01ABDxxx (MQ01ABD100)

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

We've seen Toshiba focus on physically small drives for quite some time, and the company offers more models in this segment than any other hard drive vendor. Searching Toshiba's website for 2.5" client-oriented drives turns up an astounding 41 product families. So, we tried sorting the disks according to five use cases: computing, consumer electronics, multimedia/video, automotive, and industrial. Even then, we still had a difficult time finding the right product among the mass of candidates. Computing alone is so general that it doesn't really help us narrow down the field at all.

The MQ01ABDxxx family appears in three of the five applications: computing, consumer electronics, and multimedia. According to Toshiba, its MQ01ABDxxx is optimized for quiet, energy-efficient operation, and should be well-suited for use in mobile PCs, desktop PCs, game consoles, and DVRs.

With a spindle speed of 5400 RPM and a data cache just 8 MB-large, maximizing transfer rate wasn’t a major design criteria. The MQ01ABDxxx-series sports a 3 Gb/s SATA interface complemented by Advanced Format support, which presents 512-byte sectors to the operating system as it internally uses 4 KB sectors.

We're testing the flagship MQ01ABD100, which has a capacity of 1 TB and costs about $94 online. Although it's not the only 9.5 mm-high 1 TB drive we have on-hand, cramming that much data onto two platters still is a major technical achievement. As we already pointed out, a 12.5 mm three-platter disk simply doesn't fit into the hard drive bays of most notebooks.

The Toshiba MQ01ABD100 packs a whopping 744 Gb into one square inch of magnetic media, the highest data density in our test. Meanwhile the 1 TB Hitachi Travelstar 5K1000 has a slightly lower, yet still impressive, data density at 694 Gb per square inch.


Despite the fact that it's primarily positioned as a quiet, power-saving storage product, the Toshiba MQ01ABD100 demonstrates impressive results in our h2benchw benchmark. With an average read/write rate of 89 MB/s, it pulls ahead of the Hitachi Travelstar 5K1000 by a slim margin. Other drives capable of similar performance include Seagate's Momentus XT and Western Digital's Scorpio Blue WD10JPVT. Not unexpectedly, this Toshiba MQ01ABD100 loses in a direct comparison to 7200 RPM disks like Hitachi's Travelstar 7K750.

Toshiba specifies an access time rating of 12 ms, but our measurements come in significantly higher than that at 17.8 ms (read) and 21.3 ms (write). Being the slowest of our four new test candidates, we wonder if there is some correlation with this disk's high data density? Even still, although its access times look really slow, that's probably not particularly relevant to the target markets this drive is intended to satisfy.

An average of 0.5 W in our idle power draw test is beaten only by Western Digital's Scorpio Blue and Seagate Momentus XT. The maximum power draw is just 2.9 W, which confirms the MQ01ABD100 as a “green” drive.

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