If you asked the hard drive manufacturers about their assessment of the impact of perpendicular recording technology (PM), you typically got forecasts the predicted the advent of 3.5" hard drives with up to double-digit terabyte capacities. However, the truth is that all hard drive makers have been focusing on the 2.5" drive market rather than on desktop drives. On the one hand, capacity is in short supply in the notebook space, where the maximum has been at 160 GB. On the other hand, everyone expects stronger growth and demand for 2.5" drives than for 3.5" storage in the consumer space. As a consequence, most 2.5" notebook hard drives are already based on PMR technology, while desktop drives with the technology are just now being launched.
The first PMR generation made 160 GB possible. Western Digital's offering of a drive with 250 GB capacity represents a 50% capacity increase, which we haven't seen for quite some time. In addition, the Scorpio WD2500BEVS also easily outperforms its 5,400 RPM competitors at a maximum data transfer rate of almost 55 MB/s, and even manages to leave the Hitachi Travelstar 7K100, one of the first 7,200 RPM notebook drives, in the dust.
But not everything is golden with the new Scorpio. Yes, it is our first choice when it comes to selecting a notebook hard drive that has to offer both maximum performance and high capacity. But the Seagate Momentus 7200.2 with a capacity up to 160 GB remains the performance leader. Also, there are other 5,400 RPM drives that offer better energy efficiency.
If you are looking for a mainstream 2.5" hard drive that provides adequate capacity and nice performance, we recommend waiting a few months. Now that perpendicular recording is about to help boost per-platter capacity from 80 GB to 120 GB, mainstream notebook drives will soon have these large capacities. You then might also be able to get a good deal on current-generation, 160 GB drives. If you opt for a current-generation drive, it is important to know that Toshiba offers the quickest access times and the Hitachi Travelstar 5K160 remains the most energy-efficient family.
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