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Upgrading Your Notebook Hard Drive: Does It Make Sense?

New: Hitachi Travelstar 7K500

Hitachi’s Travelstar 7K500 is flagship in the company's high-performance lineup today. It's still a 7,200 RPM drive based on the standard 9.5mm z-height. It still has only a 16MB buffer and a SATA 3.0 Gb/s interface. However, the drive's insides are entirely different. Hitachi increased the maximum capacity from 200GB to 320GB (Travelstar 7K320) to 500GB. If you don’t need that much storage on the road, you can still select 320, 250, 160, or 120GB capacities.

While the 7K200 had two model families that differed only in their interface type, the Travelstar 7K500 is available in three different varieties. I just mentioned the standard models, but these are also available with an optional bulk disk encryption (BDE) feature. BDE utilizes on-drive, hardware-based encryption of all disk contents, as per the Trusted Computing Group’s Opal specification. In addition, there's the "Enhanced Availability" family, modified to withstand continuous 24x7 operation. Note that the EA series lacks a 120GB offering, and there are presently no EA drives with BDE.