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Three Platters: Samsung Spinpoint M6 HM500LI (500 GB)

Not All 500 GB Hard Drives Are Created Equal

We reviewed this drive when we first looked at 500 GB notebook drives in July 2008. At that time, Samsung beat Hitachi twice by fitting into the 9.5 mm form factor, despite its three platter design, and by outperforming its competitor as well. The Spinpoint M6 HM500LI was a serious speed demon, but the competition has not been sleeping, which is why the Spinpoint M7 HM500LJ followed a few months ago.

The technical data seems similar—500 GB capacity, 12 ms seek time, 8 MB buffer, SATA 3.0 Gb/s, 5,400 RPM spindle speed—but differences can still be found. While the new HD500JI withstands 400/900 g shock (operating, non-operating), the older three-platter drive is limited to 325/750 g. The three-platter HM500LI weighs in at 115 g compared to the new model’s 105 g. Active power and noise could be reduced with the latest model, but the Spinpoint M6 HM500LI is still rated as superior in low power idle, which our measurements confirm. This is not the case in most of the benchmarks, and when it comes to power consumption while streaming, and during video playback and workstation I/O.

The old drive reached a maximum throughput of 70.4 MB/s, which the new one beats by a significant 23%. Keep in mind that both drives appear to be similar on the outside if you stick to just the basic specifications. Similar performance differences can be found when looking at the I/O performance benchmarks, where you wouldn’t even expect improvement of 20-27%. Even the application-based PCMark Vantage HDD benchmarks reveal noticeable—or at least measurable—benefits for the new Spinpoint M7.

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  • 2 Hide
    aspireonelover , July 23, 2009 7:06 AM
    great article, I think we all know when it comes to the newer generation. They're usually better.
    One thing, I hope the next time you write this article, plz throw in more hard drives.
  • 2 Hide
    kelfen , July 23, 2009 7:14 AM
    great read. It's probably alot of work to throw in more hard drives but if ya could do a part two on it; that would be great.
  • 3 Hide
    amnotanoobie , July 23, 2009 8:29 AM
    Benching more hard drives would make this a more worthwhile read.
  • 0 Hide
    Anonymous , July 23, 2009 8:48 AM
    This article wanted to emphasize the difference between older and newer generations, so two hard drives from the same maker but different in generation should do the trick. Maybe if they got another pair from a different maker, then they can do a comparison, too.
  • -4 Hide
    fausto , July 23, 2009 12:50 PM
    they should use real desktop drives. equivalent mainstream models.
  • -1 Hide
    fausto , July 23, 2009 12:52 PM
    i have trouble figuring out which generation i'm buying because they don't put a model number at the retail with video cards. all they give you is brand and capacity and basic spec that you can read on the box.
  • 1 Hide
    xsamitt , July 23, 2009 12:53 PM
    LOl ....Yet another hard drive review.For god's shake and for the sake of your readers maybe you could sneak some new (monitor) reviews in.24 INCH would be nice.You used to before,but these days it's more o the same.
  • -1 Hide
    kubes , July 23, 2009 1:10 PM
    good read. I agree i'd like to see a few other hard drives thrown into the mix. Maybe do all hard drives at a certain price range. Meaning capitity and preformance would change. like a 75-100 dollar roundup and that way you can see the difference between capicity vs preformance as well.

    Monitors are hard to review because their so subjectical. If they wrote an article it'd be more fact gathering from a stat's sheet than anything I would think.
  • -1 Hide
    xsamitt , July 23, 2009 1:57 PM
    Hi Kubes

    I agree that Monitors aren't easy to describe.But they used to do it before.I also feel that just because something is subjective(OR hard) doesn't mean it shouldn't be done.I'm pretty sure most people know Tom's isn't what it used to be be that for better or for worse.They do have some nice people working for them which is a good thing.But again I just feel that they are stuck in a rut,with 1 article per day when it used to be 3 and 4.And seem to be reviewing the same things.Surly I can't be the only one who see's the pattern that's so apparent.This is less a negative complaint than hoping Toms reads this and realizes it just needs a little more V8(In other words more people on the helm to liven up the site.Call it constructive criticism because I do with Toms all the best.
  • -2 Hide
    xsamitt , July 23, 2009 2:37 PM
    Just give it a few days...I'm sure it's coming.
  • 1 Hide
    Anonymous , July 23, 2009 2:38 PM
    Paragraph 6 - "This article compares the three-platter Spinpoint M6 HM500JI with the new Spinpoint M7 HM500LI..."

    It took me a while to figure out that this was not consistent with the graphs. All of the figures show the M6 as HM500LI and the M7 as HM500JI.
  • -3 Hide
    deputc26 , July 23, 2009 2:40 PM
    and 320-500 GB 3.5” desktop drives.

    For real??? not a chance, the sweet spot in 3.5" is 640gb-1tb, certainly on a gb/$ basis anyway.
  • -1 Hide
    cadder , July 23, 2009 2:49 PM
    Does anybody actually buy Samsung drives?
  • -1 Hide
    Anonymous , July 23, 2009 3:37 PM
    Fail. The HM500JI is a two-platter drive from the Spinpoint M7 series. The HM500LI is a three-platter drive from the Spinpoint M6 series. The article says the opposite.
  • 0 Hide
    Anonymous , July 23, 2009 4:05 PM
    It's a pitty that a laptop's drive generally most of the time is idling by!

    As far as I see I'm pretty impressed with the read speeds!
    I thought my toshiba HD's 13-18MB/s readspeeds where fast!

    It's a pitty harddrive manufacturers don't let the customer know about the improvements!
    I'm sure if they did (somehow), that many would spend the extra few bucks on a drive which performs much better.
    Although, for notebooks I estimate battery life won't be impacted that much (seeing that drives spend most time being idle).
  • 1 Hide
    Anonymous , July 23, 2009 4:08 PM
    Like a vga chart, it would be nice to have a chart for desktop (performance), and notebook (performance vs power consumption) HD's.
    It'd be nice to have an idea what would happen if we plan on upgrading our current HD.

    Though I do have to say that may be quite hard, seeing the sheer amount of harddrive brands and types out there!
  • -2 Hide
    NoCaDrummer , July 23, 2009 5:11 PM
    Are the "Power Requirement Idle" figures reversed? I thought there was mention that the newer drive "M7" used less power, yet that chart shows that the "M6" uses 10% less power.

    (Trekkies may recall that "M5" went crazy and eventually shut itself off.)
  • 0 Hide
    daeros , July 23, 2009 5:43 PM
    Main playback (1.0 vs. 1.9 W), and at workstation I/O (2.0 W vs. 2.7 W). These power savings correspond 25%, 90% and...

    uhm, since when is 1w 90% less than 1.9w?

    This is why I usually don't get in-depth reviews from Tom's anymore; the factual content is just not reliable.
  • -1 Hide
    pschmid , July 23, 2009 7:21 PM
    The industry's sweet spot is always the highest possible capacity using a single platter. This is where HDD makers can produce the cheapest drive. Who ever is first to a higher per-platter density has a business advantage. Cost per gigabyte in retail may be different, though.

    @ProDigit80: We do have hard drive charts in the charts section as well - check them out here,53.html

    @NoCaDrummer: The numbers aren't reversed, but the benchmark tool rounds them. It seems idle power is just too close together. Look at the power consumption for the three different tasks - the new M7 is much lower on power here.

    Thanks for your feedback!
  • 0 Hide
    techpops , July 23, 2009 7:30 PM
    Man some serious moaning going on here. I'll take what I can get in terms of reviews and news, usually a must read when I see something from toms in my RSS feeds.

    Perhaps people not so happy should spread their curiosity for news and reviews around other sites. No shortage of them and ease off nit picking on resources like this that give out everything for free.
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