Not All 500 GB Hard Drives Are Created Equal


The Samsung Spinpoint M6 and M7 drives we used can be considered representative for similar generation changes found in the product lines of other hard drive makers. Hitachi has already transitioned from its Travelstar 5K500 to the 5K500.B, also simplifying the drives from three platters to only two. Fujitsu has had a 12.5 mm three-platter offering as well, which we expect to hit two platters shortly. Seagate and WD didn’t launch three-platter drives, meaning that their newest generation will arrive with the next capacity jump.

The improvements found when going from the three-platter Spinpoint M6 to the two-platter Spinpoint M7 were much larger than anticipated. The new drive not only provides significantly more performance, but it also happens to consume drastically less power with popular applications, such as streaming, FullHD video playback, or intensive workstation I/O. In this light we can get over the fact that idle power increased from 0.9 to 1.0 W, as the overall efficiency improved quite a bit.

Less obvious advantages—such as increased shock resistance, decreased drive weight, reduced drive ready time (4 seconds instead of 5 seconds), and slightly reduced noise—are beneficial for notebook builders. The most important detail other than these facts and test results is probably pricing, and the latest drive generations typically are about the same cost as their predecessors. This has been the case for the Samsung M6 and M7 drives as well: the new drive can do almost everything better, and it doesn’t even cost more.