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Upgrading Your Notebook Hard Drive: Does It Make Sense?


Using a newer hard drive in your notebook could very likely make sense, depending on the workloads you run. You'll likely be stepping up in capacity, which is important given the smaller ceilings of 2.5" drives versus the 3.5" disks we're used to discussing on the desktop. Advances in technology will also likely yield performance improvements in apps that push the upper bounds of sequential transfer rates, such as content creation-type titles.

MobileMark showed that there are battery runtime benefits to a hard drive upgrade, although the few-minutes difference is tiny, given that we used a laptop equipped with a robust 9-cell battery. Still, a really old and inefficient 2.5” SATA hard drive compared against one of the latest options should deliver around a ten-minute delta in battery life. You'll find the performance differences can be more noticeable, although in our case, basic Windows operations, such as start, hibernation, or shut down didn’t benefit too much.

We’d also like to mention that any hard drive upgrade doesn’t mean the end of your existing drive. Desktops can usually keep old hard drives for a backup solution or added storage. But even 2.5” drives can find new homes. USB 2.0 drive enclosures start at roughly $10. With one of these, you can turn your old system drive into a backup solution or a portable hard drive with little effort and cost.

We will follow up with a separate review of Hitachi’s Travelstar 7K500 and the Toshiba MK5056GSY soon to provide the low-level and application benchmark results on our storage reference test system.