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Review of the Samsung HM160HC, World's Fastest ATA/IDE Mobile hard drive

Discussion in 'Hardware Components and Aftermarket Upgrades' started by K-TRON, Jun 22, 2008.

  1. K-TRON

    K-TRON Hi, I'm Jimmy Diesel ^_^

    Sep 15, 2007
    Review of the SAMSUNG HM160HC, World's fastest ATA/IDE notebook hard drive

    Well I just received my new Samsung HM160HC drive last week after spending a lot of time researching ATA/ IDE laptop hard drives.
    On notebook review, I have seen many posts by John Ratsey about his hypothesis with the Samsung HM160HC drive. His hypothesis was that the HM160HC by Samsung was the fastest ATA/IDE laptop hard drive. He believed that the drive was based on a single 160 GB platter design, and should perform equally as well as its 320 GB counterpart which is only available on the serial ATA interface.
    Well I wanted to upgrade my laptop and I wanted to only upgrade to the fastest parts. I have spent many hours researching the internet looking for hdtune/hdtach benchmarks of the drive, and I could not find anything.
    With no other actual proof of this drive being as fast as John believed, I bit the bullet and ordered the Samsung drive.
    I ordered the drive from Lagoom for $75.14 including shipping.
    When I received the hard drive, I was very eager to run some tests.

    My test system:

    My Dell Inspiron 8500 which I purchased 5.5years ago when I was 13yrs old.
    The system was the first desktop replacement Dell ever made, and it cost me $2400 back in 2003.
    The system has a 2.4Ghz P4m, 2.0Gb of Corsair DDR PC3200 memory running at PC2100 speed, nVidia go 4200, and now a Samsung 160gb 5400rpm drive.

    The original drive was a Hitachi 40GB 5400rpm drive which came with the laptop. I am very happy that the drive has lasted just over 5 years without any problems.

    The 40 GB drive was the best performance per dollar drive at the time of purchase. The only better drive was the 60 GB 5400 rpm drive, but I did not want to pay some $130 more for it. Actually over the 5 yrs I have had it, I have never used more than 30 GB of the drive.

    Here are a few side by side comparison pictures of the two hard drives:

    As you can see, the Hitachi drive which came with my Dell laptop is on the left, and the new Samsung HM160HC is on the right.


    The underside of the two harddrives. The Samsung is the one with the pins showing. The Hitachi is the one with the adaptor over the pins.


    If you look closely, you will see how efficient this new drive is.
    The old drive took 1.0Amps of current, while the new drive uses only 0.85Amps of current. This is good news if you are concerned with battery life. The less power the drive draws, the longer the battery on your laptop will last.

    The Hitachi drive is made in Thailand as are all other Hitachi hard drives and the Samsung drive is made in Korea where they manufacture all of their products.

    What is also worth noting is that the Samsung drive comes with a 3yr warranty, which means that the company has faith in their products and they back them with a good warranty.

    Now for the performance tests:
    I installed the HM160HC into my dell laptop, and I booted her up. I was scared that the laptop would only recognize 137GB of data, but my laptop recognized the full 160GB of the drive.
    As I remember with my Dell 8500, which I format every year or so, the installation of Windows XP takes about 45 minutes. With the new Samsung drive fitted, and using the same optical drive, the installation took only 23 minutes. This quick installation time was very relieving to me, since it led me to believe that this drive really can perform the same as the 320GB 5400rpm SATA drives.
    After the installation finished, I shut the system off and timed 18 seconds to full boot. Now this was with no programs installed on the drive, just straight Windows XP Professional SP2.
    I installed all of the software which my laptop uses, mainly: Microsoft Office, Adobe CS3, Premier and some CAD software.
    Then I went and defragmented my drive. Thinking that it would take about 30 minutes, I went to finish another errand. I came back in 10 minutes just to make sure that the drive was still going, and it was already finished. I was amazed how fast this drive is.
    Then I restarted and ran an hdtune test.
    After loading hdtune, I set the benchmark to accurate and a block size of 8mb.
    As soon as I hit start, I saw the high of the drive and I was so happy.
    You can see why here:

    HDTUNE results of the Samsung HM160HC drive:


    Here are the other important tabs which hdtune has for this drive:
    The health tab (reads the S.M.A.R.T. Diagnostics of the hard drive):

    The info tab, which has other information about this harddrive:

    As you can see this drive is extremely fast, and it is now proven to be the fastest ATA/IDE notebook hard drive on the market.

    After installation of all of my programs on the Samsung drive my boot time is 37 seconds.
    The Hitachi drive with the same software installed with a lighter Windows XP Home edition with SP1, had a boot tome of 1 minute and 52 seconds.

    The boot times of the operating system have dropped drastically and demanding programs like Adobe CS3 suite take about one quarter of the time to load. I am very amazed by the speed of this drive. The new Samsung drive has breathed new life into my laptop, and it is actually as fast if not faster in loading than most laptops on the market today.
    I have a 160 GB (2 platter) 5400 rpm drive in my E1505 which is almost 1yr old, and my 5.5yr old laptop starts and opens programs faster. It is actually more comparable in speed to my raid 0 array on my Voodoo server replacement laptop. I am shocked by the speed of this drive, and all of the 320 GB 5400 rpm drive owners and 200 GB 7200 rpm drive owners know what I am talking about. 52mb/sec is a huge performance jump for the ATA/IDE interface for laptops. If you do not know, the Samsung HM160HC performs the same as the 320 GB 5400 rpm drive by Samsung. The only difference between the two is that the 320 GB drive uses two platters where the 160 GB drive only uses one.
    Both the 320 GB 5400 rpm drive, and the Samsung HM160HC perform near to identical as the Hitachi 7K200 in synthetic benchmarks.

    Comparison of the Samsung HM160HC to common Serial ATA harddrives:


    Well I am sure you all want to know some other information about how this drive performs: IE heat, noise and battery life.

    To start off with heat, this drive is extremely power efficient. The drive takes less power than my original drive and packs 4x the data on one disk rather than two.
    This drive utilizes one platter, which means that there is only one spinning disk and two heads (one for each side of the disk), instead of two disks and fours heads. Because of this high density design, the drive generates much less heat, since there are half the disks and heads as a conventional laptop hard drive.
    The maximum temperature this drive has reached was 127F after running a full disk check which took about 75 minutes. As you can see the drive runs extremely cool and it is extremely fast.

    The noise of this drive is well, very low. This is due to the fact that there is only one platter and two heads rather than two platters and four heads. Since there is only one spinning disk, there is essentially half of the turbulence generated inside the drive from the spinning disk. Now you want to know about noise, well this drive is rated at 24decibels. If this is so, the 40 GB Hitachi I have had in my laptop is around 35-40decibels. This drive is extremely quiet due to its small amount of moving parts. Some of us have more attenuated hearing than others, but I can insure you that this drive is extremely silent. When benchmarking the drive, you can only hear a very low hum from the actuator arm moving across the disk. Compared to my Hitachi drive, this drive is not noticeable at all. It is almost like the hard drive is not even on.

    My laptop has two batteries, one primary 72WHR battery and a side smart bay battery with 48WHR’s. (Yes the first smart bay was made by Dell for this chassis back in 2003, not Alienware). Well my laptop when I first received it would get a little over 6.5hrs of battery life. Before the new hard drive, my battery run time clocked in at 4 hrs and 35 minutes. The smart bay battery is a Lithium Polymer, which has started to show signs of age. With the new Samsung drive the battery life is just over 4 hrs and 50 minutes, just shy of 5hrs. I am sure if I get a new smart bay battery I could get over 6.5 hrs of battery again.

    Now for the comparison (All of these drives are ATA/IDE notebook harddrives):

    Most people have reported that the fastest ATA/IDE mobile hard drives are the 250 GB 5400 rpm drive from Western Digital or the Hitachi 7k100 100 GB 7200 rpm drive.
    Well these side by side charts will prove that the Samsung HM160HC is the fastest mobile ATA/IDE hard drive for a notebook.

    The benchmarks for the 7k100 100 GB IDE, 40Gb Hitachi Travelstar drive and the Samsung HM160HC are provided by me, and the 250 GB Western Digital 5400rpm drive has been provided by D3X.


    As you can see the Samsung HM160HC is faster than even the spacious 250 GB WD and the speedy 7200rpm drive. I did not compare the Seagate Momentus 7200.1 series, because it is about 10% slower than the Hitachi 7K100 series.

    PCMARK 05 comparison between Samsung HM160HC, Hitachi 7K100 and Seagate 7200.1:


    Well it seems that my initial run of PCMARK 05 was a different version than Phil used, so for sake of comparison I am deleting my old PCMARK run from this thread, and replacing it with results from the same version of PCMARK Phil used.

    Please disregard 8.06MB/SEC from the first run. After a new run I am getting much closer scores to Phil’s and others HM160HC’s

    If you are looking for the fastest drive for your laptop it is clearly the Samsung HM160HC, since it is both affordable, quiet, power efficient and it is extremely fast. The Western Digital Scorpio is the only other drive I would recommend since it is the second fastest ATA/IDE laptop hard drive. It may have a higher capacity, but it has a lower data density, since the 250 GB Scorpio has two 125 GB platters, while the Samsung drive has a single 160 GB platter. The higher data density of the platter in the Samsung drive allows the Samsung drive to out compete all other 5400rpm drives and even the fastest 7200rpm drives for the ATA/IDE interface. The Hitachi 7K100 does lead in the access time, but its lead is very minimal in overall performance, since it is about 12mb/sec slower than the Samsung drive. I should also mention that the 7K100 series is pretty power inefficient since the drive uses 1.1amps of power, which is significantly more than most laptop hard drives. Overall the Samsung Drive proves to be the fastest hard drive as it has a higher average sustained data rate, and a higher maximum and higher lower minimum transfer rates than the other drives.

    I hope that many of you with older laptops will take the same route I have, and upgrade to the Samsung HM160HC drive. It really will be the best $75 you have ever spent on your laptop.

    This has been a review by K-TRON Computing Corporation©™
    Lasted edited by : May 8, 2015
  2. goofball

    goofball Notebook Deity

    Apr 1, 2007
    Thanks for that review. I'm contemplating now changing the seagate 5400.2 that came with my acer for this drive.
  3. The_Observer

    The_Observer 9262 is the best:)

    Dec 25, 2006
    Good Job,K-tron as usual.Rep'd
  4. Cin'

    Cin' Anathema

    Oct 4, 2007
    Great review, Chris..you put alot of work in this...Kudo's ;) :) :cool:
  5. Andy

    Andy Notebook Prophet

    Apr 21, 2008
    I believe that the 7K200 and the WD Scorpio 250GB would give different results if tested in the same OS and machine as the other HDDs....just assuming because each OS and machine....may have different background services running and feeding on the hardrive [since you mentioned that some benchmarks have been provided by D3X] (is the pagefile accountable for that too..??:confused:)....!! (and do differences in the versions of the HD Tune software cause variations in results....:confused:)
    Just an Assumption..!!
    Good Guide for the IDE HDD owners....like myself..:p +rep
  6. bubbatex

    bubbatex Notebook Deity

    Mar 14, 2008
    Great review Chris!
  7. John Ratsey

    John Ratsey Moderately inquisitive Super Moderator

    Apr 10, 2005
    I'm very pleased that my hypothesis (based on reading the datasheets) is vindicated.:smile:

    Did you notice if the new HDD feels a bit cooler than the old one?

  8. Kdawgca

    Kdawgca rotaredoM repudrepuS RBN Super Moderator

    Jan 21, 2007
    Looks like I know what HDD to upgrade to in my D410. Thanks for the review, K-TRON Computing Corporation©™ :)
  9. Phil

    Phil Retired

    Jul 29, 2007
    Thanks for the review. Unfortunately HDTune is a purely synthetic benchmark. To get a better idea of real life performance I'd like to see different benchmarks. It would be very interesting if you could time some Windows XP boots with boottimer.exe or PC Mark 05, or run some different application benchmarks like Veristone Wintest.

    Here's how some of these drives do in PC Mark 05 booting Windows XP.
  10. K-TRON

    K-TRON Hi, I'm Jimmy Diesel ^_^

    Sep 15, 2007
    I will get some PCMark 05 scores for comparisons.
    I understand where you are coming from Philflow, but the drive which Tomsharware tested is the Samsung HM160JC, not the HM160HC. Their is a difference between the drives. The one which tomshardware tested has a much lower score because the drive they tested was the 160gb 5400rpm drive by samsung based on two 80 gb platters, not one 160gb platter as is mine. This is evident becuase tomshardware rates the HM160JC you are talking about at 38mb/sec which is on par with the other 2 platter 160gb drives.

    I can assure you that the HM160HC is the fastest ATA/IDE drive and I will prove it with different benchmarks later tonight when I get home from work.

    John, the highest temperature the Samsung drive reached was 127F after extensive load. Under the same type of load, surface scanning, the hitachi drive it replaced would reach 144F
    The Samsung drive is more power efficient and it shows in the increased battery life and cooler running temperatures

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