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Hard drive recommendations and benchmarks: 5400 rpm and 7200 rpm.

Discussion in 'Hardware Components and Aftermarket Upgrades' started by Phil, Aug 19, 2008.

  1. Phil

    Phil Retired

    Jul 29, 2007
    Last update: 5 June 2009

    Since we have a lot of threads with information scattered around I thought it might be good to have just one thread on this topic. Please share experiences, recommendations, relevant information or ask questions here about what hard drive one should buy. I'll kick off with some recommendations and other info:

    Often the question is asked "what hard drive should I buy?". It's a good question because the hard drive is often the bottleneck in a system's performance. A fast hard drive can make your system feel a lot faster. Most notebooks come with 2.5" hard drives, a few ultra portables come with 1.8".

    So what hard drive should I buy? This will depends on many factors like: the interface you need (SATA or PATA), your budget, how much storage you want and how important performance, noise, heat and vibration are to you.

    SATA drives
    It makes sense to base your buying decision on other cirteria: price, warranty, power consumption, noise and whether (you believe) you need a freefall sensor.

    These are the drives I recommend based on real world benchmarks by Techreport:

    When speed is priority: WD3200BEKT or WD1600BEKT

    When battery life is priority: MK5055GSX (lowest idle power consumption) Hitachi 5K500.b (lowest power consumption while playing video)

    When capacity is priority: WD5000BEVT.

    The best mix of speed, power consumption, capacity and noise: WD5000BEVT

    Hitachi 7K320 is a fast 320GB/7200rpm drive with fast multitasking performance. When it's cheaper than WD3200BEKT it's an interesting alternative.

    PATA drives recommendations:
    Samsung HM160HC (benchmarks here)
    WD Scorpio 320 GB

    Frequently Asked Questions:
    Are 7200rpm drives faster than 5400rpm drives?
    Sometimes but sometimes not. The overall speed of a drive is influenced by many factors: the rotational speed, acces time, I/O, data density, firmware and more variables. Some 5400rpm drives outperform 7200rpm drives. The WD3200BEKT (7200rpm) outperforms the WD5000BEVT (5400rpm) in multi tasking situations because of the lower acces times and higher IOPS.

    Are 320GB/5400rpm drives faster than 200GB/7200rpm drives?
    Generally speaking they come very close in performance, however the Hitachi 7K200 200GB manages to outperform all 320GB/5400 in non synthetic benchmarks.

    Should I be going for SSD?
    It depends on your budget and needs. The better SSDs outperfom all traditional notebook harddrives. They come at a high price though. Good SSDs are still a lot more expensive per GB than traditional hard drives. Other benefits of SSDs are that they are very shock resistant and more quiet.

    My hard drive makes a clicking noise. How can I make it stop?
    Search for HDparm

    How much difference will I notice between SSD, a fast hard drive and a slower drive?
    These benchmarks give a good idea: http://techreport.com/articles.x/15079/5

    How do I install a new hard drive while keeping the same OS install and data?
    This can be done through cloning the hard drive as described in this post.

    Where is my HDD space gone!?

    But my HDTune/HDTach/SisoftSandra/ATTO/Vantage result is much better than the WD3200BEKT. Why do you say WD3200BEKT is faster?
    Synthetic benchmarks can be a nice and quick indicator but in the end they remain what they are: synthetic. To measure real life performance there's no other way then measuring real life performance. Sites like Anandtech, Techreport and Laptopmag show several real world benchmarks.

    * Benchmark sites:
    Here you can find many notebook hard drives benchmarked:
    Techreport latest 500GB drive benchmarks
    Tomshardware 2.5" charts:
    Techreport 2.5" hard drives and SSD test:
    Storagereview WD3200BEKT vs. Hitachi 7K200 vs. Hitachi 5K500:
    Storagereview WD 3200BEVT vs. Hitachi 7K200 vs. Seagate 7200.2:
    Tom's Hardware 14 way SSD test.
    HD Tune thread
    NBR WD3200BEKT vs. Hitachi 7K320 benchmarks
    Lasted edited by : May 8, 2015
  2. XPS1330

    XPS1330 Notebook Deity

    Dec 3, 2007
    EDIT: First Post :D:D

    Good start.
    Is this a sticky?
  3. Phil

    Phil Retired

    Jul 29, 2007
    We can make it a sticky if we want to. I think it's a good idea.
  4. X2P

    X2P I♥COOLING | NBR Super Mod

    Aug 31, 2007
  5. 72hundred

    72hundred Revolutions-Per-Millennia

    Oct 29, 2007
    YES PLEASE MAKE IT A STICKY!!! This topic comes up every week practically!

    great work too :D
  6. John Ratsey

    John Ratsey Moderately inquisitive Super Moderator

    Apr 10, 2005
    It's a very useful start but I can think of some relevant issues which merit inclusion since most people who can choose their HDD model are upgrading an existing HDD.

    Perhaps first is to advise the reader to check whether their existing HDD is PATA or SATA. Then, a cautionary note about LBA and the 137GB limit. Here's an example of the obstacles when upgrading the HDD on an older computer.

    Also the 500GB HDDs deserve a mention. In particular the only one which is standard thickness at the moment (Samsung HM500LI) has above-average power consumption.

    We might want to finish with a link to the quick guide to cloning a HDD (anyone want to write a full guide).

  7. Phil

    Phil Retired

    Jul 29, 2007
    All good ideas John. When I have more time I will update the startpost.
  8. E.B.E.

    E.B.E. NBR Procrastinator

    Mar 23, 2006
    For a bit of in-depth reading about hard drives, I recommend this page. Written in 2000 but almost everything still applies.

    Not sure if this should be in the main post, but it's good to have it on the 1st page of the thread, anyhow. :)
  9. ltcommander_data

    ltcommander_data Notebook Deity

    Mar 21, 2006
    Right now I'm looking for a 320GB 7200rpm drive so your rankings are useful.

    However, I'm wondering where the conclusion that the 7200.3 is power hungry comes from? The Tech Report review shows that the 7200.3 is more power efficient that the WD Scorpio Black which is consistent with comparisons between Seagate and WDC's spec sheets for those drives. (Specifically the official specs show the Black having higher idle power usage than the 7200.3 while read/write and standby power is similar).

    The specs for the 7k320 lists it's power as even lower than that of the 7200.3, but I haven't seen independent confirmation of that.

    Based mainly on lower power consumption, I'm mainly considering between the 7k320 and 7200.3. Hitachi generally makes fast drives, and I'm currently using a 5k160 which was the fastest 160GB 5400rpm drive in its generation and I've had good experiences with it. And I've heard consistent good reviews about the 7k200. But these heat and vibration concerns make me nervous about the 7k320 since they'll probably be more noticeable on a thin, already hot case like a MBP.

    Any further comments on 320GB 7200rpm drives would be appreciated.
  10. Arez20469

    Arez20469 Notebook Enthusiast

    Aug 11, 2008
    I bought a notebook yesterday but need help deciding if I should change my order from a 320gb 5400 HD to a 200gb 7200. Here's what I'm wondering:

    -Even though 320gb is slower in rpm, doesn't the higher data density speed it up somewhat? Would this be enough to justify buying it over the 5400?

    -Since this isn't RAM, the only advantages come from starting things up, not keeping them running?

    -The 200gb 7200 also comes with "Disk Encryption". I heard this will ONLY slow down files if they're about 2gb. Is that true? Could there be any other problems?

    Basically, I've heard the 7200 has resolved any heat issues it might have had with the vast majority of companies, and at this point I'm wondering if it's worth the upgrade or downgrade (depending on how you look at it) from the 320gb to the 200gb.

    If the "Disk Encryption" slows down the hard drive more than expected, I can also consider a 160gb 7200rpm.

    So, what one would you guys want?
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