2.5" Serial ATA hard drive round-up

Big performance, little drives

MOBILE HARD DRIVES have never been particularly fast, so the fact that hard drives are typically the slowest components in the average PC counts for even more in the laptop world. There was a time when 4,200 RPM was the norm for 2.5" notebook drives, and even today, 4,200-RPM drives are fairly common. Fortunately, those seeking better mobile I/O performance have an increasing number of options. Numerous manufacturers offer faster drives with 5,400RPM and even 7,200RPM spindle speeds, the latest of which also boast speedy Serial ATA interfaces and support for Native Command Queuing.

Serial ATA and NCQ are relatively new to the laptop world, and 7,200-RPM spindle speeds and high-capacity platters are still pretty cutting-edge for the 2.5" mobile form factor. The question, of course, is how well the latest Serial ATA notebook drives have integrated these new features and capabilities. It's also worth asking whether there's really a big performance gap between 5,400- and 7,200-RPM notebook drives. To find the answers, we've assembled the latest 5,400- and 7,200-RPM Serial ATA notebook drives from Hitachi and Seagate and run them through the wringer. Read on for the surprising results.

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