New Notebook Drives
Several hard drive manufacturers claim that drives with “round number” capacities such as 500 GB or 1000 GB sell better than those with sizes such as 640 GB or 750 GB. So, although it has been a while since 2.5” notebook drives reached 500 GB capacity, we expect this size to be popular for a while.
We collected all of the available drives for this big roundup.
500 GB Now and Then
The first 500 GB drives by Hitachi and Samsung, as well as Fujitsu, used three physical platters to reach this capacity, making them somewhat unusual. Most notebook designs require 2.5” hard drives that have a standard height of 9.5 mm, while three-platter 2.5” drives are typically 12.5 mm tall. This is the case for the Hitachi Travelstar 5K500, but not for Samsung’s 500 GB HM500LI—the Korean company was the first to cram three platters into a 9.5 mm design. All of the other drives, including Samsung’s new HM500JI that didn’t arrive in time for this roundup, use two platters and a 9.5 mm height to achieve their 500 GB capacity.
The advantages of a lower platter count are less mechanical strain, lower production cost, less heat dissipation, lower power requirements, higher data density and hence typically increased throughput. Manufacturers obviously will prefer this design, then, and used three platters only when it was necessary to hit the capacity point.
The great part about the fierce competition in the hard drive arena is that prices have been going down faster than the stock market (Ed.: Prior to the current rally, that is). Most of the drives we reviewed are available for less than $100. Keep in mind that we’re talking about 500 GB notebook flagships here. Can you imagine a top model processor or graphics card being sold for this amount of money? Crazy.