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

Toshiba MK1637GSX - 160 GB, 5400 RPM

The last drive in this roundup is Toshiba's current 160 GB top model. There is a 200 GB drive, the MK2035GSS, but it runs at a slow 4,200 RPM and thus isn't really that attractive to enthusiast users (although it is based on PRM technology, unlike the 160 GB MK1637GSX).

Toshiba's performance model runs at 5,400 RPM, has 8 MB cache memory and a Serial ATA/300 interface, which supports NCQ to optimize the order in which incoming commands are processed. Toshiba had 2.5" hard drives with as much as 16 MB buffer a few years ago, but this doesn't seem to be that important any more.

We found that the MK1637GSX needs a relatively large amount of energy for a 5,400 RPM drive: 1.1 W idle power is exactly as much as the Seagate Momentus 7200.2 requires. Even the power requirements with a lot of drive activity are the highest in its class: 3.4 W is more than other 5,400 RPM 2.5" drives specify; Hitachi's Travelstar 5K160 only needs 2.4 W, which is 30% less. Please have a look at the energy consumption chart at the end of the benchmark section for more details.

The access time of 16.8 ms is an average result for a 5,400 RPM drive, but we found the interface bandwidth somewhat disappointing: 83.5 MB/s maximum transfer rate can be reached even by most UltraATA/100 drives, or models with a SATA/150 interface. Why bother with SATA/300 if there is no positive effect, but probably a slight increase in power consumption? Nevertheless, we were delighted to see a 46 MB/s transfer rate, which is very good for its class.