Swapping to a faster HDD...

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A week or two back I mentioned that I routinely replace my laptop HDDs with
7,200 rpm models and I was asked if it made much of a difference. Alas,
t'was a huge post and I checked it when I didn't have time to write an
extensive reply and now it's lost to me...

Yes, I find it makes a big difference. The machine is far more responsive
and startup /shutdown times are quicker. I've been working with T60
ThinkPads recently, most of which come standard with an Hitachi 5,400 rpm
drive. My replacement drive of preference is a Seagate Momentus 7200.4
320GB. This T60 is running XP Pro and actually came with a 100GB Hitachi
7,200 rpm drive. It's a high-spec T60. However swapping to a 7200.4 still
made a noticable difference. Perhaps the 16MB buffer is part of that? I've
also noticed that the HDD temps are about on par with each other.

Anyway, I just swapped another T60 5,400 rpm Hitachi HDD for a Seagate
7200.4 and, as it's running Windows 7 Ultimate I now have some 'hard data'
in the form of Microsoft's 'Windows Experience Index' benchmarks that I can

With the 60GB (in this case) faultless (according to Hard Disk Sentinel)
Hitachi 5,400 rpm HDD fitted and a new install of 7 Ult. the WEI HDD score
was 4.3. I cloned the install onto a 50GB partition on a new 320GB Seagate
Momentus 7200.4 and re-ran the WEI. This time the HDD score was 5.9.

So, up from 4.3 to 5.9, quite a big jump, which bears out my experience of
the improved usability and responsiveness of going to a (Seagate 7200.4 in
particular) 7,200 rpm HDD.

The latest gen SSDs are even better (but not as much when it comes to using
them as the raw data would indicate according to what I've been hearing) but
at the prices and capacities currently available not a realistic option (at
least for me). When I can get a nice 15" T60 with a C2D and FlexView IPS
screen for less than twice what a 128GB SSD would cost me I'd rather buy
another T60 for spares (as they were the zenith of laptop design and
functionality IMO) or whatever than buy an SSD.

Maybe next year, or the year after, when I'm sure my T60s will still be
running fine and doing all that I ask of them. For now going from a 5,400
rpm HDD to a 7,200 rpm [mechanical] HDD remains the most cost-effective and
noticably faster upgrade for a laptop IMO. The 'old' 5,400 rpm units get put
into external enclosures here (or UltraBay adapters) to be used as data
drives where their relative slowness isn't such an issue.


"When we dream.... that's just our brains defragmenting" G Jackson.

Re: Swapping to a faster HDD...

On Fri, 14 May 2010 11:10:50 +1200, "~misfit~"

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I've also bumped up my laptop HD to 7200 but I can't say I noticed as
big an increase as you but I did notice it.  I don't do benchmarks
because it's like statistics.   They can be very misleading or
deceiving.   To be honest, depending on what apps you run will
determine how noticeable the speed increase is.  Of course whether
noticed or not, the drive will be faster and I agree that the boot up
time, etc.. will be faster.

One thing tho you didn't mention is that the 7200's  run hotter
because of the faster speeds so that may or may not need to be

Re: Swapping to a faster HDD...

On 5/19/2010 3:22 PM, RnR wrote:
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Although your assertion about heat seems, on the surface (pun intended),
to be warranted, I am not sure there will be a noticeable difference, if
one at all.

One thing I would mention though, is the vibration issue. Depending on
the drive and the way it is mounted in the laptop, I have found
vibrations in the wrist rest can be noticed, and that would be, at least
for me, a no-no.

Bottom-line: the cost of a new HD being fairly reasonable, I would try
and see if I like it. The performance difference, I am not sure I would
notice; it would be there, most probably, but in every day's use, I do
not think it is important enough to justify, by itself, a purchase.

John Doue

Re: Swapping to a faster HDD...


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John, the noticeable difference in heat  depends on the laptop, drive
and I forgot, the person.  

On newegg.com similar drives (5400 vs 7200) differ by $5.00 so
probably 7200 is worth purchasing nowadays.   I expect 5400 is
becoming a dinosaur.  They used to be a much bigger difference in

I agree with you on vibration.  I guess the specs would tell all tho
you could dampen it with wrist bands if necessary.   For me, it's not
an issue.  

Re: Swapping to a faster HDD...

...more heat...faster speed.  Won't battery run-time take a hit?  If
you run on battery often...I wonder if it's worth it?!


Re: Swapping to a faster HDD...

Bob Villa wrote:
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Also take into consideration the sometimes irritating whine
the high-speed disks emit.
My second harddisk does that, and I put it to sleep after
20 seconds inactivity.

Re: Swapping to a faster HDD...

Somewhere on teh intarwebs Sjouke Burry wrote:
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It's been my experience that modern drives are more efficient than older
ones. I'm usually replacing an older drive with a new, faster one. In
general 7,200rpm drives use they same power that 5,400rpm drives did two or
three years ago. Therefore they don't run hotter *or* run your battery down

You can google the HDD models to find power consumption. Most manufacturers
have downloadable PDF spec sheets. The hottest drives I've monitored have
actually been 4,200rpm and 5,400rpm drives. I reckon it's because their
bearings and motors aren't as efficient as newer drives.

(I monitor all my hard drives with Hard Disk Sentinel for temperature as
well as SMART parameters. I'm *very* particular about temps so do know what
I'm talking about, within my own experience of upgrading ~12 laptop HDDs.)

"When we dream.... that's just our brains defragmenting" G Jackson.

Re: Swapping to a faster HDD...

~misfit~ typed on Fri, 21 May 2010 18:10:50 +1200:
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I just got a newsletter yesterday from Asus that they are going to
release a drive that will be:

- 20% faster than a 600GB 10K-RPM SATA drive
- 80% faster than a traditional 7200-RPM drive
- 150% faster than a traditional 5400-RPM drive
- Boots within 6 seconds of an SSD drive

I don't know what it is or anything. I guess we will find out.

On the other hand, I have upgraded slow 4200 RPM drives in laptops with
5400 RPM drives and I see no big difference. These are all PATA drives
though, maybe that is why. This laptop is the only one with a SATA
drive. I never upgraded this one, but this one comes out of hibernation
twice as fast as my PATA drives do. So Shaun, are you talking SATA or
PATA drives?

Gateway M465e ('06 era) - Windows XP SP3

Re: Swapping to a faster HDD...

Somewhere on teh intarwebs BillW50 wrote:
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I'd say that it's a hybrid SSD / mechanical.

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Both actually although I can no longer find a local source of 7,200rpm PATA
drives. :-(   I agree though, the difference is more noticable with a SATA

"When we dream.... that's just our brains defragmenting" G Jackson.

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