Articles: Storage

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Half a year ago we welcomed early 2.5-inch hard disk drives with a capacity of 500 gigabytes and now every manufacturer offers such products. A delay with the introduction of a new series would allow the opponents to rake in all the profits.

It is in human nature to be always asking for more. 320GB HDDs had seemed just fine in terms of speed and capacity but as soon as there appeared larger-capacity products, their higher recording density also bringing a promise of a performance growth, the previous favorites were abandoned. The recording density per platter grew up from 160 to 250 gigabytes, allowing the manufacturers to reach the beautiful round number of 500 gigabytes. Coupled with the considerable reduction in price (such HDDs cost about $100 in retail now), this has made the new models highly popular. People use them to increase the amount of disk space in their notebooks, to modernize or assemble a super-compact home PC, in mobile enclosures, in blade servers, in NASes with 2.5-inch bays, etc. To cut it short, the new 2.5-inch HDDs have caught the spotlight.

And we are lucky to have as many as nine such HDDs in our hands: one 5400rpm 250GB-platter model from each of the six makers, two early models based on three platters, and one 7200rpm model with two platters. It’s time to write a review!

Testing Participants

Fujitsu MJA2 BH: MJA2500BH


There is a high chance that this HDD, hardly different from its opponents in anything, will be the last 2.5-inch hard disk drive from Fujitsu. End of the winter Fujitsu decided to leave the HDD market and took appropriate measures. The company sold its HDD development and production division to Toshiba. It stopped its HDD head production facilities while its platter producing factories and patents were handed over to Showa Denco. Thus, there are currently only five HDD makers left. It is the same story as with Maxtor and, earlier, with IBM and Quantum, let alone numerous smaller brands. Globalization is spreading over the planet on the pretext of helping to get rid of unprofitable businesses.

By the way, Fujitsu also offers one more series with 500GB drives called MJA2 CH. Its models are twin brothers of the series we’ve got a sample of but feature integrated encryption. The MJA2 CH series is somewhat broader, with a bottom capacity of 80GB, whereas the encryption-less series begins from a 250GB model.

Hitachi Travelstar 5K500.B: HTS545050B9A300


Hitachi was one of the first companies to introduce 500GB drives – it was a Travelstar 5K500 series model with a 3-platter design and 12.5 millimeters thick. Many clients were dissatisfied with the increased thickness and the series was updated as soon as Hitachi had acquired denser platters. Following the evolution of its desktop counterpart, the new series got the name of Travelstar 5K500.B, a dual-platter design, and a normal thickness of 9.5 millimeters.

It is the newest trend to release multiple HDD series based on the same platform. Hitachi, in particular, offers three 5K500.B sub-series: ordinary models, models with encryption, and models optimized for 24/7 operation. Hitachi is taciturn about the distinguishing features of the latter sub-series, but we’ve got a sample of the basic disk, without any special features.

Samsung SpinPoint M7: HM500JI


This HDD had a 500GB predecessor, too. That was an M6 series model with three platters and a standard thickness of the case, which was quite impressive (no other developer had ever come up with such a product). But manufacturing HDDs with two platters is easier and dual-platter HDDs are more economical, so Samsung released a new series as soon as it had new 250GB platters. Besides the platters, the electronics seems to have been revised substantially for the new series.

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