Product Review: Page (1) of 1 - 06/07/06 Email this story to a friend. email article Print this page (Article printing at MyDmn.com).print page facebook

Hitachi Travelstar 7K100 7,200 RPM SATA Notebook Drive

2.5-inch replacement hard drive for MacBook and MacBook Pro By Dave Nagel
Summary: Want to upgrade to a faster internal hard drive for your MacBook or MacBook Pro? Hitachi's 100 GB Travelstar isn't the answer. Despite its higher rotational speed and other favorable specs, this SATA-based notebook drive provided absolutely no boost in application performance (including Final Cut Pro, Motion and Photoshop). In fact, on the whole, it came out slightly behind the stock 5,400 RPM Fujitsu drive that comes in the 13-inch MacBook based on our common benchmark tests.
Manufacturer: Hitachi (http://www.hitachi.com)
Platform: Mac OS X and WIndows
Price: Approximately $180
Users: Owners of SATA-based notebook computers, such as Apple's MacBook and MacBook Pro
Recommendation: Feh

The first thing I replaced on my 13-inch MacBook was the RAM. Next up, the hard drive. After all, the MacBook's 60 GB stock drive would last me about a day once I got all my applications loaded up on it. And it certainly wouldn't have enough room for a Windows partition as well. While I was at it, I thought I'd go ahead and upgrade to a higher-performance drive as well. How'd that work out?

Not so well.

For my upgrade, I opted for Hitachi's 100 GB, 7,200 RPM Travelstar, a 2.5-inch SATA drive designed for notebooks like Apple's MacBook and MacBook Pro. The specs looked promising. It was 40 gigs larger than the base drive, and the transfer rates and all the other statistics hard drive manufacturers like to throw at you looked like they'd give me quite a boost over the performance of my base Fujitsu 5,400 RPM SATA drive.

But the fact is that while I did get an increase in space, the performance of my applications running off that drive actually stayed the same or, in some cases, even went down. Which tells me I could have saved money and gone with a larger, "slower" 5,400 RPM drive.

Features
There's not much to talk about in the way of features for the Travelstar. Here are the basic specs.

Interface: SATA (1.5 Gbps)
Size: 2.5"
Rotational speed: 7,200 RPM
Capacity: 100 GB
Formatted Capacity: 92.84 GB
Cache: 8 MB
Average latency: 4.2 ms
Max transfer rate: 629 Mbps
Average seek time (read): 10 ms
Average seek time (write): 11 ms
Operational shock: 300 G
Non-operational shock: 1,000 G

So there you have the basics.

Performance
But the area I was concerned about when I picked up this drive for about $180 was performance. Real-world performance. When I shelled out my cash, I was expecting at least a slight boost in the performance of my creative applications--especially applications that access media from the drive (Final Cut Pro, Motion) and graphics apps that use the hard drive for scratch space (Photoshop). But what I got, in fact, was about what I had abandoned: virtually identical performance, and, in some cases, a decline in performance.

Now, I won't deny that this drive might be faster for transferring data over a network. Maybe it is. But it doesn't do anything for the way my applications perform. Here are some of our application benchmark tests that we've used in the past, here comparing the MacBook's stock 60 GB drive against the Travelstar.



For these tests, everything was equal except the hard drives themselves: same machine, same installation procedures, same data on the hard drives at the time of the tests. Both drives were pristine prior to these tests and had exactly the same software installed at the time of the tests. I wiped the Travelstar clean three times to account for possible flaws in the software installations, but to no avail. The numbers remained virtually the same each time. (The numbers shown above are the best of the lot.)

Notice that at times the Travelstar comes in ahead of the base Fujitsu drive in the MacBook. But on the whole, it comes out just slightly slower (924 total seconds for the Hitachi, 903 total seconds for the base Fujitsu). Now, I didn't expect any kind of miraculous performance gain by putting in a new hard drive. But a performance deficit? I never expected that!

The bottom line
So, in short, I was terribly disappointed with the Travelstar. I wanted an increase in performance for the $180 I was spending on this 100 GB drive, but it didn't work out. Which means the whole drive doesn't pencil out. I'll continue using it for its slightly higher capacity (versus the stock 60 GB MacBook drive), but I definitely feel like I've thrown my money away.

The 100 GB Hitachi Travelstar 7K100 is available now for about $180 (street) in a SATA configuration for MacBook and MacBook Pro computers. For more information, visit http://www.hitachi.com.


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Related Keywords:hitachi, travelstar, sata, macbook, macbook pro, 7200 rpm, 2.5", 2.5 inch, notebook, hard drive

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