2.5" Hard Drives by Toshiba and Western Digital Rev Up

200 GB At 4,200 RPM: Toshiba MK2035GSS

This is the first 200 GB 2.5" hard drive with standard height to be tested in our labs. We previously tested the Fujitsu's MHV2200BT, which also has a 200 GB capacity, but with the added overhead of 12.5 mm (0.49") in height compared to the standard 9.5 mm (0.37") for the vast majority of 2.5" hard drives. Toshiba's MK2035GSS is a standard 9.5 mm in height, meaning it is suitable as a replacement for older (lower-capacity) 2.5" hard drives in your notebook.

The 200 GB of storage capacity is delivered via two disk platters and four data heads, offering Perpendicular Magnetic Recording (PMR) technology in combination with a feature Toshiba calls Tunnel Magneto-resistive Recording (TMR) Head technology. This product is the first PMR drive from Toshiba to include TMR, which helps the drives to get an areal density of 178.8 gigabits per square inch.

At a rotation speed of 4,200 RPM, the MK2035GSS is on the low end of the spectrum in terms of hard drive performance, though it offers faster performance than other 4,200 RPM drives thanks to its high data density. The drive includes a Serial ATA/150 interface for transfer rates of up to 150 MB/s, supports Native Command Queuing (NCQ) for command reordering and has a respectable 8 MB buffer.

Toshiba claims a 12-ms average seek time in its published specifications. Our tests showed the MK2035GSS to have an access time (including rotational latency) of 19.1 ms, which indicates that Toshiba's seek time statement is certainly correct. Remember that the seek time plus the rotational latency (time it takes to reach the desired sector on a disk) results in the total access time. This result is nearly 4% percent faster than that of the 200 GB Fujitsu MHV2200BT at 19.8 ms.

Interface Transfer Rate (as measured by Interface Bandwidth) on the other hand wasn't nearly as impressive. In our tests, we found the MK2035GSS to have a last place finish result of 75.3 MB/s. Fujitsu MHV2200BT is 47% better at 111 MB/s. Please remember that this value indicates interface bandwidth only. The actual transfer performance of the magnetic medium usually is clearly slower.

On notebooks, battery runtime and power are key issues not to be ignored: While 4,200 RPM does provide degraded performance as opposed to 5,400 RPM drives, 4,200 RPM provides the benefit of lower power consumption, which translates into longer battery runtime. Our tests found the MK2035GSS drive to pull 0.8 Watts while idle and 2.9 Watts under load. The oversized Fujitsu MHV2200BT in comparison consumes less power with only 0.6 Watts while idle and 2.2 W under load.

Weight is also a key criteria for mobile 2.5" drives. Here, Toshiba bests the oversized Fujitsu drive. Toshiba's MK2035GSS tips the scale at 98 g. In comparison, Fujitsu's MHV2200BT is 38% heavier at a hefty 135 g, which is due to the higher platter count and dimensions.