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2.5" HDD Galore: Samsung, Seagate, Toshiba

Conclusion

While we're still waiting for two more 5,400 RPM 320 GB hard drives from Toshiba and Western Digital, the new Samsung Spinpoint M6 arrived with a bang Compare Prices on Spinpoint M6. With the exception of its access time, which we can only rate as below-average, the 320 GB Spinpoint M6 is the fastest mechanical notebook hard drive that has arrived at our storage test lab yet. At 70 MB/s it is faster than 320 GB 3.5" drives were when they hit this capacity point; in fact it is even as fast as 500+ GB 3.5" hard drives that are only two years old. Power consumption is still acceptable, but too high for users that depend on maximum mobility. For everyone else, this is the best 2.5" notebook drive available at this time.

We were a bit disappointed with Toshiba's MK1651GSY. Although it's not too power hungry given that it rotates at a fast 7,200 RPM spindle speed, and despite its acceptable pricing, we don't see many reasons why enthusiasts should go for this model. It does provide short access times and excellent I/O performance, making it suitable for high-performance, high-density storage applications, and the application benchmarks leave no doubts that this drive is fast indeed. However, the spindle speed advantage is no longer enough to overtake a state-of-the-art 5,400 RPM drive such as the new Spinpoint M6 by Samsung. If I were to go for considerably more performance, I'd look for a quick Flash SSD now. If there aren't any significant speed upgrades soon, 7,200 RPM drives will be on the decline - even without their makers having made any significant mistakes.

Seagate's Momentus 5400.4 comes at mainstream capacities and at acceptable prices. While it performs well, it does not break many records. Seagate, however, still is the only hard drive maker to back its drives up with a five year factory warranty.

Product Comparison Table

ManufacturerSamsungSeagateToshiba
FamilySpinPoint M6Momentus 5400.4MK1651GSY
Model NumberHM320JIST9250827ASHDD2E22
Capacity320 GB250 GB160 GB
Rotational Speed (RPM)540054007200
Available Capacities160, 200, 250 GB120, 160, 200 GB80, 120, 200 GB
Platter222
InterfaceSATA/150SATA/300SATA/150
Cache (MB)888
NCQyesYesyes
Warranty3 years5 years3 years

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