Reviewed: 2.5" Notebook Hard Drives From Toshiba And Hitachi

Speedy Notebook Hard Drives

It’s a bit weird to see that Seagate's Momentus 7200.4 has been available for more than half a year without much competition. Western Digital still doesn't offer a 7,200 RPM Scorpio Black drive above 320GB, but Hitachi and Toshiba have finally caught up. Today we're looking at the Travelstar 7K500 and the Toshiba MK5056GSY, which both offer up to 500GB and transfer rates of more than 100 MB/s.

First- and second-generation notebook hard drives with a 7,200 RPM spindle speed aimed at maximum performance by increasing throughput and shortening latency. They didn’t disappoint. Storage performance has been one of the few remaining weaknesses when comparing mobile systems with desktops, so any decent improvement in mobile storage performance can be very noticeable. However, the additional performance comes at the expense of increased power consumption. Today's industry puts more focus on efficiency than in years past, so this is no small issue. High-speed drives are no longer inefficient, and performance drives are even closing in on mainstream drives in terms of capacity.

Although WD has released 750GB and 1TB 2.5” hard drives, these have to be considered non-standard, at least when it comes to notebook applications. Those drives utilize three rotating platters, and hence require a 2.5” drive housing with 12.5 mm z-height. Standard notebook HDDs are based on 9.5 mm designs. Here, 640GB has been the capacity limit, with 750GB probably coming up in the first half of 2010.

The two new drives by Hitachi and Toshiba fill a gap. Previous high-performance 7,200 RPM notebook drives were limited to 320GB, which may not be sufficient for enthusiasts. In this article, we’ll compare these two to Seagate’s established Momentus 7200.4 and find out just how impressive these two newcomers might be.