Enthusiast 2.5" HDDs: Speed or Capacity?

Samsung Spinpoint M5S (HM250JI): 250 GB, 5,400 RPM

Samsung's HM250JI is the second 2.5" drive model with a standard height of 9.5 mm to reach a total capacity of 250 GB. Although Western Digital beat Samsung to market with the Scorpio WD2500BEVS, Samsung's new top model beats the WD drive in each and every test discipline: 3.1 W vs. 3.4 W maximum power draw; 0.9 W vs. 1.0 W idle power requirement; 17.3 ms vs. 17.8 ms average access time; 10% faster data transfer rates; and slightly better application benchmark results in PCMark 05. All of these figures make very clear that Samsung has created an excellent hard drive, and this becomes even more impressive as you compare its performance with 7,200 RPM drives, which it can compete with in several benchmarks.

One reason why this drive is more energy efficient may be the Serial ATA interface that Samsung chose, which does not support 300 MB/s speeds, but stays at 150 MB/s. As you can also see with the 3.5" desktop hard drive Raptor by Western Digital, the interface hardly has any impact on overall drive performance as long as the bandwidth is sufficient. Once again this unwritten law seems to apply, and it helps to conserve some energy: we haven't seen a single SATA/300 drive that could stay under 1 W idle power.

All Samsung drives are covered by a three-year factory warranty. Given that Samsung hard drives have been attractively priced, especially in Europe, we expect these new models to be one of the best choices in the upper mainstream. Performance users running a first generation 7,200 RPM notebook drives should consider upgrading their drives, because the Spinpoint M5S and similar competitors offer better transfer rates at much reduced energy consumption. This also applies for the new Fujitsu drive, that that one only goes up to 160 GB.