Conclusion: 500 GB Notebook Drives are Still Unbalanced
We have seen several new records during the testing for this review. Hitachi and Samsung are the first to offer 500GB hard drives in the notebook space. Samsung breaks a throughput record by getting close to 80 MB/s with the HM500LI. However, it also reached a negative record in the access time tests with a slow 19 ms. That said, Hitachi’s drives aren’t really much faster in this respect.
Although both drives have their strengths and weaknesses, it appears to us as if both manufacturers raced to the 500GB capacity point and jeopardized the balance among performance, capacity and energy efficiency somewhere along the way. While Samsung squeezes amazing transfer rates out of the standard 2.5“ form factor, the slow access time and 10-25% increase in power consumption is not acceptable for a system hard drive. Hitachi, on the other end, cannot yet fit its 500GB drives into a 9.5 mm drive bay, and the throughput and access times aren’t impressive, though certainly fast enough.
We have to conclude that we have higher expectations from new hard drives. A new product should not perform worse than its predecessor, which is the case for Samsung. Hence we can only recommend these drives for pure storage applications; in the case of Samsung, it’s because of the high power requirements and slow access times, and in the case of Hitachi due to the 12.5 mm height, which disqualifies it as a system drive for high-end notebooks.