Five 2.5-inch hard drives at 500GB

SSDs have stolen much of the limelight in the hard drive world. Depending on who you ask, these high-performance arrays of flash memory chips either represent the future of PC storage or a major bifurcation in the industry. For now, however, solid-state drives are largely confined to the fringes. Although they’re slowly gaining a following among performance-hungry enthusiasts who live on the bleeding edge, SSDs have yet to make major inroads among mainstream users, even in the mobile world.

Notebooks are about as close to home court as it gets for solid-state drives. For one, the overwhelming majority of consumer-grade SSDs conform to a 2.5″ form factor compatible with all but the thinnest and lightest of ultraportable systems. The mobile world is also where the superior shock tolerance and lower power consumption inherent to flash-based storage pay the biggest dividends. And let’s not forget that 2.5″ mechanical hard drives don’t pack nearly as much capacity as their 3.5″ counterparts, giving SSDs less of a storage gap to bridge.

In fact, SSDs have already matched the capacity of the roomiest notebook drives on the market. Today’s 2.5″ mechanical drives top out at 500GB, which is just a smidgen less storage than 512GB SSDs currently for sale. But there’s a catch. You’re going to pay north of $1,500 for a 512GB SSD, which works out to nearly three dollars per gigabyte. That lofty cost per gigabyte isn’t confined to premium capacity points, either. Lower-capacity SSDs typically run two to three dollars per gigabyte, with more expensive models pushing a whopping four bucks a gig.

So what about those 500GB mechanical notebook drives? Today, they’re available for between 26 and 17 cents per gigabyte. Most will set you back less than a c-note, which, in the SSD world, buys just 32GB.

The fact that traditional hard drives offer better value, on a cost-per-gigabyte basis, than SSDs is certainly not surprising. Solid-state drive prices may be falling, but they still have a long way to go. What is surprising is the fact that the highest capacity 2.5″ mechanical hard drives on the market are so inexpensive.

Unlike 3.5″ desktop drives, where manufacturers’ flagship models are strung out between one and two terabytes, 500GB is the highest 2.5″ capacity offered by Hitachi, Samsung, Seagate, and Western Digital. No wonder prices are so competitive. But that raises the question: with all the major players lining up at the same capacity, which drives stand out? To find out, we’ve gathered 500GB flavors of Hitachi’s Travelstar 5K500.B, Samsung’s Spinpoint M7, Seagate’s Momentus 5400.6 and 7200.4, and Western Digital’s Scorpio Blue for a good old-fashioned throw-down.

As you’ve surely noticed, we have two drives from Seagate. That’s because the Momentus manufacturer is the only drive maker currently selling 500GB notebook drives at both 5,400 and 7,200 RPM. Spindle speed counts for a lot with mechanical storage, giving the Momentus 7200.4 a significant advantage right out of the gate. The fact that the 7200.4 also features 16MB of onboard cache memory—twice what’s available from the rest of the field—certainly raises our performance expectations for the drive. It also raises the question of why other manufacturers haven’t bumped their drives up to 16MB. They may be sticking to 8MB at 5,400 RPM to further differentiate future 7,200-RPM models.

All five of the drives we’re looking at today measure a scant 9.5 mm thick, which doesn’t leave a lot of room to stack rotating platters. There are only two discs per drive, and as you might expect, each weighs in at 250GB. It’s amazing how areal densities escalate these days. Just a year ago, the highest-capacity notebook drives packed a mere 160GB per platter.

Hitachi Travelstar 5K500.B

Samsung M7

Seagate Momentus 5400.6

Seagate Momentus 7200.4

Western Digital Scorpio Blue

Interface speed
300MB/s 300MB/s 300MB/s 300MB/s 300MB/s

Total capacity
500GB 500GB 500GB 500GB 500GB

Capacity per platter
250GB 250GB 250GB 250GB 250GB
Cache 8MB 8MB 8MB 16MB 8MB
Spindle speed 5,400 RPM 5,400 RPM 5,400 RPM 7,200 RPM 5,400 RPM
Average seek time 12 ms 12 ms NA NA 12 ms
Max media data rate 109MB/s 138MB/s 147MB/s NA NA
Idle power 0.8W 0.85W 0.81W 0.67W 0.85W
Read/write power 1.4W 2.5W NA NA 2.5W
Seek power 1.7W 2.5W 1.54W 1.55W NA
Idle acoustics 2.4 bels 2.4 bels 2.4 bels 2.3 bels 2.4 bels
Seek acoustics 2.6 bels 2.6 bels 2.6 bels 2.6 bels 2.6 bels
Warranty length 3 years 3 years 3 years 3 years 3 years
Street price

While manufacturers tend to disclose platter counts, spindle speeds, and cache sizes, not all are keen to publish the intimate details of their drives’ performance characteristics. Seagate, for example, makes no mention of Momentus random access times on the drives’ data sheets. While the company posts a maximum media transfer rate for the 5400.6, it doesn’t do so for the 7200.4. Of course, Western Digital doesn’t publish media transfer rates at all. But that matters little, because we can test such things ourselves. The benchmark results on the following pages should illuminate each drive’s performance characteristics with much greater clarity than best-case theoretical peak specifications on a datasheet.

Power consumption is a key metric for notebook drives, since watts saved can extend battery life. The drives look to be on relatively equal footing, with the 7200.4 quoted for lower power draw than one might expect from a 7,200-RPM unit. We’ll see if that holds true in our own power consumption tests.

Three years of warranty coverage is the de facto standard for consumer-grade hard drives, and none of the bunch deviates from that mark. Western Digital does offer a five-year warranty on its 7,200-RPM Scorpio Black drives, but those have yet to spin a half-terabyte.

All four of the 5,400-RPM models we’re looking at today are available for less than $90 online, which makes them quite evenly matched. The Momentus 7200.4 commands a hefty price premium of nearly 40%—a tall order for its faster spindle speed and larger cache to make up.

Before moving on, I should mention a couple of optional features available on some of these drives. Versions of the Hitachi and Seagate units are available with free-fall sensors that provide an extra measure of protection against accidental droppage. The Spinpoint M7 has a free-fall sensor, too, but Western Digital only offers this feature on its Scorpio Black drives—not on the Blue. Hitachi’s Travelstar can be ordered with a Bulk Data Encryption option for those prone to losing laptops loaded with classified state secrets, social security numbers, and credit card information in public places. Full-disk encryption is available from Seagate, as well, but not on these particular Momentus models. Neither Western Digital nor Samsung offer encryption options for their notebook drives, although Samsung has launched self-encrypting SSDs.

Skimming the surface

Hard drives make poor photograph subjects. But just in case you were wondering, all five drives look pretty much the same:

Test notes

The older nature of our hard drive test system has ruffled feathers recently, but it should more than suffice for our purposes today. While this rig is built around a Pentium 4 processor and 955X chipset running Windows XP, that’s been more than enough horsepower to wring impressive performances from Intel’s wicked-fast X25-E enterprise-class SSD, Western Digital’s latest 10k-RPM VelociRaptor, and the fastest mechanical desktop drives from Hitachi, Samsung, Seagate, and Western Digital. Surely, this system can keep up with a handful of 500GB notebook drives.

It’s also worth noting that the Serial ATA specification hasn’t changed since this test system was put together. Intel’s ICH7R south bridge may be a few generations old, but its storage controller is virtually identical to what you’ll find inside the latest ICH10R. In fact, notebook-specific chipsets typically use mobile versions of older south bridge chips. For example, Intel’s most recent performance-oriented mobile chipset, the GS45 Express, draws its south bridge component from the ICH9 family.

We’ve observed that some solid-state drives handle Windows XP better than others. XP was designed with mechanical storage in mind, and its default partition offset apparently creates problems with some SSD architectures. That won’t be an issue for our mechanical drives, nor is it troublesome for the Intel X25-M SSD we’ve included in the results as a point of reference. According to Intel, the X25-M is alignment-agnostic, so it doesn’t require special tuning under Windows XP. The test results we’ve included from the X25-M are from the drive in a used rather than factory-fresh state, to best illustrate how it will perform with prolonged use.

That said, we do have a new storage test platform cranking away. Stay tuned.

Our testing methods

All tests were run three times, and their results were averaged, using the following test system.

Processor Pentium 4 Extreme Edition 3.4GHz
System bus 800MHz (200MHz quad-pumped)
Motherboard Asus P5WD2 Premium
Bios revision 0422
North bridge Intel 955X MCH
South bridge Intel ICH7R
Chipset drivers Chipset
Memory size 1GB (2 DIMMs)
Memory type Micron DDR2 SDRAM at 533MHz
CAS latency (CL) 3
RAS to CAS delay (tRCD) 3
RAS precharge (tRP) 3
Cycle time (tRAS) 8
Audio codec ALC882D
Graphics Radeon X700 Pro 256MB with CATALYST 5.7 drivers
Hard drives Intel X25-M 80GB with 8820 firmware
Hitachi Travelstar 7K500.B
Samsung Spinpoint M7

Seagate Momentus 5400.6

Seagate Momentus 7200.4
Western Digital Scorpio Blue
OS Windows XP Professional
OS updates Service Pack 2

Our test system was powered by an OCZ PowerStream power supply unit.

We used the following versions of our test applications:

The test systems’ Windows desktop was set at 1280×1024 in 32-bit color at an 85Hz screen refresh rate. Vertical refresh sync (vsync) was disabled for all tests.

All the tests and methods we employed are publicly available and reproducible. If you have questions about our methods, hit our forums to talk with us about them.

WorldBench uses scripting to step through a series of tasks in common Windows applications. It then produces an overall score. WorldBench also spits out individual results for its component application tests, allowing us to compare performance in each. We’ll look at the overall score, and then we’ll show individual application results.

Despite its spindle speed and cache size advantage, the Momentus 7200.4 scores one point lower than the Scorpio Blue in WorldBench. Only five points separate the fastest mechanical drive from the slowest here, with the Spinpoint and 5400.6 bringing up the rear.

Multimedia editing and encoding

MusicMatch Jukebox

Windows Media Encoder

Adobe Premiere

VideoWave Movie Creator

Among WorldBench’s multimedia editing and encoding tests, Premiere is the most sensitive to storage performance. In that test, the Samsung drive ekes out a victory over the Scorpio Blue and Momentus 7400.2, with the latter’s faster spindle speed again failing to offer a performance advantage over the 5,400-RPM drives.

Image processing

Adobe Photoshop

ACDSee PowerPack

WorldBench’s ACDSee test puts some strain on the storage subsystem, and this time it’s the Spinpoint and 7200.4 locked in a race for fastest mechanical drive. The Scorpio and Travelstar aren’t far off the pace, but the Momentus 5400.6 does lag behind the others by a notable margin.

Multitasking and office applications

Microsoft Office


Mozilla and Windows Media Encoder

The scores in WorldBench’s office and multitasking tests are pretty close. Traditionally, these tests haven’t seen much benefit from faster storage solutions.

Other applications



WorldBench’s WinZip and Nero tests are a different story altogether. In the WinZip test, the 7200.4 finally enjoys a lead over its 5,400-RPM rivals. The Scorpio and Travelstar tie for second place among mechanical drives, with the Spinpoint and Momentus bringing up the rear.

Spindle speed fails to dictate performance in the Nero test, where the 5,400-RPM Scorpio Blue easily outpaces the 7,200-RPM Momentus. The Spinpoint M7 is the big loser here, trailing the next-slowest drive by nearly two minutes.

Boot and load times
To test system boot and game level load times, we busted out our trusty stopwatch.

Only three seconds separate the fastest 500GB notebook drive from the slowest when it comes time to boot our test system. The Momentus 7200.4 is the quickest of the mechanical pack, with a one-second lead over the Scorpio Blue.

We’ve seen reports that pre-ICH10R south bridge chips boot solid-state drives more slowly than they should, so the X25-M may have a more pronounced boot time advantage on a newer system. Keep in mind, however, that Intel doesn’t currently offer the ICH10R as a part of any of its notebook chipsets.

The 7,200-RPM Momentus continues to lead the 500GB field in our Doom 3 level load test, but it’s no quicker than the 5,400-RPM Momentus when firing up Far Cry. The Scorpio and Travelstar are evenly matched in both games, and both are quicker than the 5400.6 and Spinpoint.

File Copy Test
File Copy Test is a pseudo-real-world benchmark that times how long it takes to create, read, and copy files in various test patterns. File copying is tested twice: once with the source and target on the same partition and once with the target on a separate partition. Scores are presented in MB/s.

To make things easier to read, we’ve separated our FC-Test results into individual graphs for each test pattern. We’ll tackle file creation performance first.

The Scorpio Blue opens up a big lead over the competition in our first three file creation workloads and finishes a close second to the Spinpoint with the remaining two. Those two drives are easily the class of the field, with the Travelstar slotting consistently into third place. Seagate’s Momentus offerings simply aren’t competitive here. In fact, the 7200.4 is only barely faster than the 5400.6.

The Momentus 7200.4 finds some redemption when we switch to read workloads, bouncing between first, second, and third place depending on the test pattern. Its strongest showing is with the ISO test pattern, which contains a small number of large files. Seagate has a history of biasing drive performance toward longer sequential transfers, so the Momentus’ showing here isn’t terribly surprising.

Among the rest of the 500GB field, the 5400.6 is clearly the slowest. The Scorpio offers the strongest performance across all five test patterns.

FC-Test – continued

Copy tests mix reading and writing, and that combination suits the Scorpio just fine. The Blue is consistently the fastest mechanical drive, although in some cases it’s just barely ahead of the Travelstar and Spinpoint.

Seagate’s Momentus models continue to struggle in our real-world file tests. The 7200.4 is competitive with the MP3 test pattern, but little else. As for the 5400.6, it’s the slowest drive across the board.

FC-Test’s partition copy tests play out much like the first round of copy tests. No surprises here.

iPEAK multitasking
We’ve developed a series of disk-intensive multitasking tests to highlight the impact of seek times and command queuing on hard drive performance. You can get the low-down on these iPEAK-based tests here. The mean service time of each drive is reported in milliseconds, with lower values representing better performance.

iPEAK turns the tables quite abruptly in Seagate’s favor. The Momentus drives both do very well here, combining for the lowest mean service times across all nine workloads. The 7200.4 is obviously the quicker of the two, with an average mean service time of 1.67 milliseconds to the 5400.6’s 2.19 milliseconds.

The Scorpio and Travelstar drives are a little ways back, with average mean service times of 2.74 and 2.63 milliseconds, respectively. That’s much quicker than the Spinpoint, which lags well behind in each and every one of our disk-intensive multitasking workloads. The Samsung drive is particularly slow when a read-intensive VirtualDub import is used as a secondary task.

IOMeter presents a good test case for both seek times and command queuing. We’ve omitted the X25-M from this first batch of results because it’s considerably faster than any mechanical hard drive, skewing the graphs considerably.

IOMeter’s file server, database, and workstation access patterns are made up of a random mix of read and write requests, while the web server pattern is an all-read affair. The Momentus 7200.4 and Spinpoint M7 fare comparatively much better with the web server pattern, suggesting a weakness in their ability to balance a mix of reads and writes. Both drives appear to hit a performance wall after 16 outstanding I/O requests when writes are involved. The difference in performance between Momentus models is particularly curious given their spindle speed and cache size difference.

Overall, the Scorpio Blue offers the highest transaction rates under IOMeter’s demanding multi-user loads. The 5400.6 surprisingly slots into second place, with the Travelstar unable to keep up. At least the Hitachi drive’s performance doesn’t trail off as the number of random write requests ramps up, though.

None of the drives has a meaningful advantage in IOMeter CPU utilization.

IOMeter – continued

When it comes to random access patterns, SSDs are in an entirely different world than even the fastest mechanical notebook drives. Heck, desktop models, too.

And the X25-M has the higher CPU utilization to show for it. It takes horsepower to sustain transaction rates that high.

HD Tach
We tested HD Tach with the benchmark’s full variable zone size setting.

HD Tach’s sustained transfer rates give us a sense of what these drives can do in a straight-line drag race. Frankly, there isn’t much to see here. Unlike in our real-world file creation, read, and copy tests, the 5,400-RPM drives are evenly matched. Only 1MB/s separates them. As one might expect, the 7200.4 is faster than the 5,400-RPM drives, but only by 17-20%. The faster Momentus actually has a 25% spindle speed advantage.

Burst transfers come straight from cache memory, so spindle speeds don’t factor into the equation at all. Here, the 7200.4 actually turns in the worst performance of the pack, failing to reach even 170MB/s. The rest of the mechanical field is spread between 230 and 249MB/s, with the Travelstar leading the way.

The 7200.4’s higher spindle speed gives it a clear mechanical latency advantage over 5,400-RPM drives, but the Momentus’ random access time is just a millisecond faster than the Scorpio Blue. Quick access times don’t appear to be a priority for Seagate, whose 5,400 Momentus clocks in a whopping 3.6 milliseconds slower than the Scorpio and more than two milliseconds shy of its closest rival. No wonder Seagate doesn’t publish seek times for its Momentus drives.

HD Tach’s CPU utilization results are within the +/- 2% margin of error for this test.

Noise levels
Noise levels were measured with an Extech 407727 Digital Sound Level meter 1″ from the side of the drives at idle and under an HD Tach seek load. Drives were run with the PCB facing up.

42.6 decibels is the ambient noise level of our test system, and the mechanical drives don’t add a lot to that at idle. Honestly, even at a couple of feet away from a bare drive, my ears couldn’t hear the difference between the Momentus 7200.4 and the Spinpoint M7.

Under a seek load, the drives start to make audible noise. Some of them do, anyway. The Scorpio is the quietest of the lot, with the Spinpoint and Travelstar a couple of decibels louder according to our sound level meter. My ears have no problem detecting more audible clicking with the Momentus drives, which are the loudest of the bunch.

Power consumption
For our power consumption tests, we measured the voltage drop across a 0.1-ohm resistor placed in line with the 5V and 12V lines connected to each drive. We were able to calculate the power draw from each voltage rail and add them together for the total power draw of the drive.

We don’t see huge differences in power consumption between the five mechanical drives. The 7200.4 requires more juice, of course, but the difference isn’t of nearly the same magnitude as the step up in spindle speed. Hitachi proves to have the best power efficiency of the mechanical bunch.


On the surface, little separates these 500GB notebook drives—well, the 5,400-RPM models, anyway. But after seeing how each handled our diverse suite of performance tests, a clear winner has emerged.

That winner does not come from the Seagate camp, despite the fact that the Momentus 7200.4 boasts a higher spindle speed than the rest of the pack. I was hoping the faster-spinning platters, combined with a larger cache, would translate into better real-world performance. But they don’t. The Momentus was often slower than the best 5,400-RPM drives, and while it enjoyed a few moments in the spotlight, those victories were far too rare to justify the drive’s significantly higher price.

The Momentus 5400.6’s sub-$90 asking price is considerably more competitive. For the most part, though, the drive’s performance is not. The 5,400-RPM Momentus actually held its own with demanding multi-tasking and multi-user loads. However, it didn’t fare as well in WorldBench and was easily the slowest in FC-Test—benchmarks, which are far more indicative of typical notebook workloads than either iPEAK or IOMeter.

Samsung’s Spinpoint M7 is the Jekyll and Hyde of the bunch. In some tests, the drive performs quite well. However, when the Spinpoint struggles, it really struggles. The M7 fell well short of the competition when faced with our disk-intensive multitasking workloads, and it hit the same random write performance drop-off in IOMeter as the Momentus 7200.4. I do like the Spinpoint’s low noise levels, but there are more well-rounded drives for the money.

Western Digital Scorpio Blue 500GB
June 2009

Rather than oscillating between impressive and depressing performances, Hitachi’s Travelstar 5K500.B was decidedly average throughout our testing. This drive lived in the middle of the pack, and while its ability to handle a mix of workloads without floundering is admirable, the Travelstar is actually slightly more expensive than our clear favorite of the bunch.

That favorite? Western Digital’s Scorpio Blue. We subject drives to a varied mix of performance tests because we’re looking for weaknesses, and the Scorpio Blue exhibited none. It may not have come out ahead of the pack in each and every test, but over our entire suite, the Scorpio was clearly the performance leader. At just $90 online, the Blue won’t cost you more than other drives we’ve looked at today, either. Picking an Editor’s Choice doesn’t get any easier than that.

Comments closed
    • YeuEmMaiMai
    • 13 years ago

    I only use WD drives all of them except for one has given me years of trouble free service. my first WDC drive was a 15MB unit with my 486 machine a zstation 425

    • Rza79
    • 13 years ago

    They NEVER did!
    I’ve used every single Barracuda & Momentus model and they’ve never convinced me. The only reason some people were raving about Seagate, was because of the 5 year warranty (which FYI doesn’t mean a drive can’t die withing the warranty period).

    • vikramsbox
    • 13 years ago

    Drive temperature is proportional more to ambient temp and inversely to drive ventilation. If your laptop has ‘breathing vents’ below the HDD, it’ll stay cooler. Temp is more about bottled up heat than heat generation in the case of HDDs.
    In countries like India where ambient temps are high, my laptop HDD reaches 47 C easliy.
    try to keep some gap between the bottom panel and the table.
    Shock damage is more probable when the drive is on. Its first apparent as read write errors due to head skips. When off, the drives can absorb daily usage shocks. I’ve used my laptop over pretty bad roads (switched off, of course) and theer has been no problems with the HDD.
    But better safe than sorry. No one can guarantee HDDs that work at 50 deg C or drops of ten feet.

    • vikramsbox
    • 13 years ago

    I agree to an extent. WD has been guilty of not displaying its drive specs on the label. But now they are doing so. Also the color- Blue (for standard- read older and lower specs), Black (new tech- high specs) and Green (eco friendly, new platters and low speed for speed equal to the previous gen blacks).
    Most WD HDDs are fixed against the Seagate in price. And the block in the channel will only come down when demand outgrows supply.
    But at the end of the day, aren’t you glad that new or old- WD offers you reliablity and performance, which no one can match, at bargain prices?

    • vikramsbox
    • 13 years ago

    Seagate doesn’t make any good products anymore. They first had hardware issues (reliability) in the 7200.10 and firmware issues in the 7200.11.
    Also all their drives, including the notebook ones absolutely suck at multi threaded read/ writes, simultaneous read/ writes and also copy paste in the same disk.
    It looks like they are depending solely on the single read/write benchmarks to hiightlight and sell their drives.
    WD and even Samsung offer much better balanced performance and value for money.

    • eitje
    • 13 years ago

    I’d reecommend using bungee cords, so that you dampen the noise made by the drive.

    • green
    • 13 years ago


    • Damage
    • 13 years ago

    Nothing changed. You just found page 10. 😉

    • yehuda
    • 13 years ago

    My only criticism of Western Digital is that you often have to get their high capacity drives, even if you don’t need the space or extra moving parts, if you want to secure new technology platters. This happens because unlike other drive makers WD does not document when existing models migrate to a new platform.

    In the case of these notebook drives, only the 400 and 500 GB Scorpios currently ensure 250GB platters, but buying a 250 GB Scorpio you can reasonably end up with an old tech, dual platter build.

    This problem is more pressing in my area, and probably other markets outside the US, because here high capacity drives take longer to come down in price, and old tech stocks stay longer in the channel.

    • TravelMug
    • 13 years ago

    Thanks for taking care of the IOmeter result graphs!

    • derFunkenstein
    • 13 years ago

    with your mom!

    • derFunkenstein
    • 13 years ago

    dude, what are you doing to your computer? I haven’t had that many Mac repair issues in five years of owning Macs, most of that time owning 2-3 of them.

    Also, replacing the drive does not invalidate the warranty on the entire computer; it only means they will not fix drive-related issues.

    • MadManOriginal
    • 13 years ago

    I’m not sure what you mean but they do provide a meal – koolaid and a Macintosh apple.

    • JustAnEngineer
    • 13 years ago

    Do you get to platform 9-3/4 by walking through a brick wall?

    • JustAnEngineer
    • 13 years ago

    The raptor wouldn’t fit in some /[

    • MadManOriginal
    • 14 years ago

    Now boarding, excuse train for RDF Station, Cupertino CA. All aboard! 😀

    • dlenmn
    • 14 years ago

    Well, power consumption is basically proportional to the amount of heat produced. In the steady state (one your laptop gets warmed up), all the energy entering the drive is going to leave somehow. A little gets out through electrical signals, some through noise and vibration, a small amount through EM radiation, but I’d put good money that most of it will leave as heat (energy that gets out of the drive in other ways will probably turn in to heat eventually — that’s basically how it goes).

    More heat does mean the laptop get hotter, but how much hotter would depend on the design, and that’s harder to generalize.

    But like MadManOriginal wrote, there’s not a huge difference in power consumption between the drives, and they’re likely a small part of the total power the laptop consumes, so you’re probably not going to notice it.

    • 5150
    • 14 years ago

    I can, they don’t.

    • adisor19
    • 14 years ago

    LOL i see what you did there.. 😀


    • adisor19
    • 14 years ago

    Errr.. about that.. Truth be told, i haven’t really taken care of my laptop that well. I carry it in a very thin laptop bag to and back from work every day and the bag gets thrown around in the car or sometimes hits the door frame on my way out..

    That being said, i haven’t dented it yet and the screen hinge still feels like new.

    Back when i had OS X 10.4 on it and the CPU scheduler was actually WORKING properly, i was running Folding at home on it 24h/day so the fans were constantly blowing at full speed and the CPU temperatures were insanely high. I’m not surprised that the right fan started rattling in the second year and that the Logic board had to be replaced as a result of bad cooling. That being said, Apple didn’t give me a hard time and never charged me anything extra nor have they complained for the Non Apple HD inside.

    Here’s some other things Apple has done for me for free :

    – Replaced my MBP battery 3 times FOR FREE and after the 1 full year of battery warranty with no questions asked. Try pulling this with Dell even if you’re on extended super duper warranty and see what happens. They’ll check the serial number on the bat and tell you to pay up.

    – Replaced the power adapter 3 times as well as the plastic sheath would break near the power brick and the inside wire mesh would show. (I should note that i was a cheap ass and was actually carying the power adaptor to and back from work every day as well. While doing this, i would always roll the cable around the powerbrick very tightly which is probably what lead to the cable to break time and time again. I’ve since bought a second power brick that i keep at work.) Again, replaced with no questions asked.

    – As mentioned, the DVD drive was replaced because it would no longer recognize empty DVDs. Turns out i burn quite a few of them here at work whenever the users are too dumb to do it on their own so the laser diode in both drives died faster then normal. Well that or the LG drives that Apple uses are really crap these days..

    All in all, with everything taken into account, the service i received from Apple was outstanding and way better compared with the service that Dell offers and i’m referring to the US/Can business support from Dell and not the India exported end user one.

    Actually Dell support has been going down the drain lately. They have now outsourced to India all laser printer technical support for the 1000 and 2000 printer lines. Seriously, call them up 1 (800) 387-5757 and see if you don’t belive me. I spent 40 minutes on the phone with a complete moron last week for a Dell 1815dn that CLEARLY needed to be replaced until it hit me to try French technical support . Thank God French support is still in Canada for the time being so if you speak it, you’re safe for now.


    • Zarf
    • 14 years ago

    This article came out just a day after I received my Western Digital Scorpio. I was inches away from getting the Samsung, and I’m glad I didn’t.

    • Damage
    • 14 years ago

    Now, now. He has every right to complain.

    • MadManOriginal
    • 14 years ago

    Your post was informative but you know what stood out to me? q[

    • crabjokeman
    • 14 years ago

    If I had $49 and my balls were burning, I would use the $49 as insulation for my balls, not in my pocket.

    • deathBOB
    • 14 years ago

    It was a joke. Blessed by the Geniuses -> kind of like indulgences. Haha.

    • pragma
    • 14 years ago

    Angry Sysops may be detrimental to Server disk performance!
    Check it out here §[<<]§ Obviously, what we need is a number of tests performed in controlled conditions. A set of tests in silence, another with loud pop music, some classical music, then heavy metal, and a languid jazz piece. Always remember to include Celine Dion. Finally, plot disk seek times, iPEAK performances, etc., against the type of music played. Based on this study, we can then adjust our workplace environment to ensure maximum performance is obtained!

    • adisor19
    • 14 years ago

    That’s 49$ you can keep in your pocket if you follow this guide at §[<<]§ like i did :) Adi

    • adisor19
    • 14 years ago

    Apple approved or not will NOT ruin your warranty. I have replaced the HD in my MBP 3 times ( 120Gb 5400RPM to 100GB 7200RPM to 200GB 7200RPM to 320GB 7200RPM) and i have taken it for repairs to the Apple store numerous times in between (logic board replaced, DVD drive replaced twice, right fan replaced) and they never EVER said anything about me swapping out the drive and voiding the warranty.

    Also, take a look at what’s needed to replace a drive on an old school MBP 😉 that’s at least 20 screws to deal with..


    • deathBOB
    • 14 years ago

    I plan on taking it into the Apple store to be blessed by the Geniuses. It only costs $49.00.

    • rctdude657
    • 14 years ago

    The real question isn’t power consumption or ball burning, its whether any of those drives are Apple approved or not.

    P.S. Madman said Anal.

    • radix
    • 14 years ago

    I also think Geoff should be upside down when performing those tests.

    • MadManOriginal
    • 14 years ago

    No it’s not if you want to get anal and technical but for practical purposes among these drives there’s no difference. Look at the power consumption figures again, they are all low and all very close. There’s no way you’d be able to tell the difference of 0.5-1W power consumption inside a laptop case even if 100% of that difference was turned in to heat.

    • no51
    • 14 years ago

    You have more friction if the hard drive is mounted horizontally, therefore you’re actually moving at less the specified rpm. Mounting it vertically alleviates the loads on the bearings and gives you a little bit more rpm’s resulting in higher sustained data rates.

    • deathBOB
    • 14 years ago

    I have a question: Is drive temperature proportional to power consumption? I really don’t want to increase the already incredible ball roasting power of my Macbook, so I want a cool drive.

    And what about shock protection? How important is this in a notebook drive? I never drop my laptop but it could happen…

    • 5150
    • 14 years ago


    • Convert
    • 14 years ago

    I can’t tell if Seagate makes anything worth buying anymore.

    • Mr Bill
    • 14 years ago

    Page 11 graphs need a logarithmic scale. A timely review, my nephew was just trying to decide if he should get a new drive for his notebook.

    • grantmeaname
    • 14 years ago

    that doesn’t make it a mobile drive. It’s nearly twice as thick as all the drives tested today. It wouldn’t fit in a laptop.

    • Ruiner
    • 14 years ago

    Or even better, throw a V.raptor into the testing, since it’s a 2.5″ after all. It’s reported to operate fine w/o the sled.

    • jensend
    • 14 years ago

    These drives’ power consumption is low enough that except for spinup they could easily be powered off of a single USB port when used in an external enclosure (USB power is 5V and the spec requires that ports provide at least 500mA; many provide more and the upcoming USB3 spec calls for 900mA which should be plenty). Since external enclosures are one of the main use cases for these beasts and since manufacturers don’t often tell you what you need to know about their drives’ spinup power, it’d be nice if TR would add spinup power to their testing.

    • adisor19
    • 14 years ago

    Ya, i’ll take the Black edition as well. Love that extra 2 years of warranty 🙂


    • zima
    • 14 years ago

    Also, I wonder how external USB flavor of this drives performs, when usb<->sata interface is added to the equation…

    • Dposcorp
    • 14 years ago

    Nice to see WD do well.
    Even though I am usually a Seagate fan, I just picked up a 320 WD Black drive.

    • indeego
    • 14 years ago

    Also please redo the tests with the drives mounted verticallyg{<.<}g

    • 5150
    • 14 years ago

    on our own!

    • TheBob!
    • 14 years ago

    Woot. I actually just got the WD drive from Bestbuy for $100.
    I dropped my netbook and that is my replacement drive. Very nice to have 500GBs on my laptop. I’m using it to back up my desktop since I always have my netbook on me.

    • MadManOriginal
    • 14 years ago

    I take it you mean the 7200.12 series? §[<<]§

    • Pax-UX
    • 14 years ago

    Here we go again! XD

    • Phil72
    • 14 years ago

    Geoff, what’s the firmware on the Seagate 7200.4?

    • odizzido
    • 14 years ago

    WD just keeps on delivering.

    • TravelMug
    • 14 years ago

    It’s amazing how WD comes out from every HDD review as the winner in some way or another. Good products.

    Note about the article:
    Could we please remove the X25 results from page 11? Or to put in a page without it and with the mechanical drives only? It makes the graphs pretty useless now and it would be interesting to see the differences between the various drives.

    • dropshadow
    • 14 years ago

    does anyone know if you can buy something similar to the velociraptor 2.5 sled for 3.5 mounting? even if it is not as fancy with fans and cooling, i sure would like to be able to buy a sturdy 2.5 sled/3.5 bracket mount adapter. suggestions?

    • ClickClick5
    • 14 years ago

    Now I just wait for the Black edition.

    • BoBzeBuilder
    • 14 years ago

    When it comes to buying a hard drive, I trust Western Digital to deliver fast acting relief for ’bout’toXplode space.

    Get yours today.

    • vikramsbox
    • 14 years ago

    WD is showing us what steady and planned development can do. A few years ago, WD was mostly synonymous with the Raptor. Now they can be bought anywhere. For any given capacity WD drives are statistically more reliable and better performing than the competitors, and in many retail stores, their 2.5″ HDDs are cheaper than Seagate’s.
    Good, WD, keep up the good work.

    • ew
    • 14 years ago

    Typo on the first page.

    “which is just a smidgen less storage than 512MB SSDs”

    • StuG
    • 14 years ago

    I would like this done with the mechanical desktop hard-drives around 1TB again, since seagate has released its newer HDD’s in hope of fixing old problems.

    • pedro
    • 14 years ago

    TR: Thank you so very much!

    I was just setting off on a ‘lil search ’round the Net for a bit of a run down on the state of play re: 500 GB notebook drives. I plan on sticking on in my MacBook.

    I look forward to reading this (very timely) review.

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