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Conclusion

TravelStar 7K200 and 5K250 Beat the Band
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The Travelstar 5K250, at up to 250 GB, provides timely performance with reasonable power requirements. It is fast enough, and also efficient enough, to finish our test gauntlet ahead of Western Digital's 250 GB Scorpio drive, but cannot beat Samsung's 250 GB flagship. If you intend to go for a 250 GB drive for your notebook, the Samsung HM250JI is still the faster option, as it delivers slightly better performance. However, if you're also interested in maximizing battery runtime, Hitachi's 5K250 is the more reasonable choice, as it consumes between 0.8 and 2.7 W as opposed to Samsung's 0.9 to 3.1 W. Clearly, no one comes out as clear winner in the battle for the 5,400 RPM mainstream. Our lineup still lacks the latest Toshiba drives, which we will add once we get them in our hands Compare Prices on Travelstar 7K200 Drives.

Things are a bit different in the 7,200 RPM high-end. Hitachi did what it wanted and took the crown for providing the fastest mechanical notebook hard drive available today. Its access times are equal to those of Seagate's Momentus 7200.2, but the Travelstar 7K200 delivers clearly faster transfer rates. Yet it doesn't consume a lot of power: it shines with power requirements that are at least 30% below those of the aged Travelstar 7K100, and still more efficient than the Momentus 7200.2. The only drive that comes close is Fujitsu's MHW2160BJ, but it has a maximum capacity of 160 GB.

Flash SSDs are often faster than these hard drives, but insufficient capacities of up to 32 GB (everything else is far from being affordable) force the enthusiast to either get a 32 GB Flash SSD plus an external hard drive, or to go with a quick hard drive based on conventional technology. Things change quickly in the storage sector these days, but purchasing one of the current generation 2.5" hard drives isn't a dead end: once 64 and 128 GB Flash SSDs get faster and more affordable, you could still use your 200 or 250 GB drive in an external enclosure.

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