Notebook HDDs Deluxe: 160 GB by Fujitsu, Seagate, Toshiba

Seagate Momentus 7200.2 - 160 GB, 7200 RPM

This is probably the most interesting 2.5" notebook hard drive available today. Seagate's Momentus 7200.1 was the first model to introduce 7,200 RPM rotation speeds for notebook hard drives, but its maximum capacity of 100 GB isn't sufficient any more today. The second generation 7200.2 is based on Perpendicular Recording Technology, which helps to increase data density and performance by storing magnetic particles in a vertical orientation as opposed to traditional, longitudinal recording.

The Momentus 7200.2 reached an amazing data transfer date of almost 60 MB/s and an average transfer rate of 45 MB/s. This is as fast as the maximum speed of many 5,400 RPM drives. We measured a very quick access time of 14.2 ms, which is clearly faster than the 15.1 and 15.4 ms of Hitachi's Travelstar 7K100 and the Seagate Momentus 7200.1.

There is an 8 MB cache memory and a Serial ATA/300 interface, which reads nicely, but would not be necessary to reach the performance numbers we measured; Native Command Queuing (NCQ) is supported as well. However, we found another feature more interesting: Seagate incorporates freefall sensor technology, which is designed to prevent drive damage in the event of a drop or other shock. The feature is called G-Force Protection, and it puts the drive into a non-operating state by moving the read/write heads off the medium and locking them when the system senses that it is in free fall. Samsung is working on a similar technology, but it seems that Seagate beat it to market. You can already find freefall sensor solutions in retail products such as Lenovo Thinkpad notebooks; in that particular case, the sensor is built into the notebook. Moving it into the hard drive removes the necessity to run a service that orders the hard drive to park its heads in case of a drop.

Seagate seems to have considered even more aspects in its attempt to offer the perfect notebook drive. The operating temperature range of the Momentus 7200.2 exceeds the common 5-55°C, being specified for operation at up to 60°C. All Momentus drives also come with a five year manufacturer's warranty, while other drive makers offer a maximum of three years.

There is one disadvantage, though: although the 7200.2 is clearly more energy efficient than the Momentus 7200.1 or Hitachi's Travelstar 7K100, it still requires up to 50% more idle power than an efficient 5,400 RPM drive or a 4,200 RPM model. And all the features and performance come at the price of increased weight: the Fujitsu and Toshiba drives weigh 101 g, while the Momentus 7200.2 weighs 115 g - 14% more.