Not All 500 GB Hard Drives Are Created Equal

Two Platters: Samsung Spinpoint M7 HM500JI (500 GB)

Spinpoint M6 or M7—what’s the difference? Well, if you want to use the hard disk as a storage-only drive inside an external 2.5” enclosure, then you will probably not find a lot of differences, as USB 2.0 would pose a significant bottleneck anyway.

But you should insist on the newer drive if you intend to use it as your system drive in a notebook. The two-platter Spinpoint M7 HM500JI provides a 12% increase in Windows Vista startup speed, and Windows Media Center playback performance increases by 62%, according to PCMark Vantage. Even gaming performance increases by almost 14%, and applications still load more than 9% quicker on the new drive. Check out the following pages for details.

We already mentioned the benefits in I/O performance, which amount to between 20% and 27%, depending on the I/O benchmark. More importantly, however, the new drive is more efficient at delivering the extra performance. Although the idle power requirement increased a bit from 0.9 W to 1.0 W, the M7 manages to consume less power than the M6 in all three disciplines: at peak sequential reading (2.8 vs. 3.5 W), at FullHD video playback (1.0 vs. 1.9 W), and at workstation I/O (2.0 W vs. 2.7 W). These power savings correspond 25%, 90% and 35% improvement, which is significant for those who find themselves intensively utilizing applications that stress notebook drives in these ways.