2.5-inch hard disk drives with a recording density of 80GB per platter are quite a widespread variety today. 160GB models (based on two platters) are popular as well, but there are still few models with a capacity of 250 gigabytes. You can only see them in notebooks excepting the Western Digital WD2500BEVS, which is installed into the external drive called Passport (for details see our article called Western Digital Passport Mobile Hard Disk Drive with 250GB Storage Capacity), and the Samsung HM250JI, which is already selling in retail stores. We even had some problems finding 250GB drives for this review. But being highly skilled at eviscerating notebooks and external HDDs, we finally had five HDDs in our hands (one of them is based on three platters, however, as you’ll learn shortly).
By the way, all these drives came out quietly, not accompanied with the marketing noise typical of largest-capacity models. We’ve already got used to a large period of time passing between the official announcement and the actual release of a product (it was as long as half a year for 1-terabyte 3.5” models some of which are still known by announcements only), but the lack of any announcement is a new thing to us. The first 250GB model we obtained was the HDD from Western Digital. After that we received the 250GB Hitachi and, later, the others. The Seagate drive of that capacity was late for the tests.
All HDDs in this review are based on platters that use second-generation perpendicular recording technology. By the way, there is a funny correlation between the capacity of 3.5” and 2.5” HDDs. The largest 2.5” HDD is almost always the same capacity as single-platter 3.5” HDDs of the latest generation. That’s true today: 2.5” 250GB models appeared along with single-platter 3.5” models of the same capacity.
So, after the comparative test of 160GB hard disk drives (for details see our article called Roundup: Six 2.5-Inch Hard Disk Drives with 160GB Storage Capacity) we are about to test the new leaders of this market sector, which are five 250GB models: two from Fujitsu, and one from Hitachi, Samsung and Western Digital each.
Four out of the five HDDs have a spindle rotation speed of 5400rpm, and the Fujitsu MXH2250BT has a speed of 4200rpm. We’ll be able to see how greatly the spindle rotation speed affects performance. The same Fujitsu differs from the others in belonging to the previous generation of HDDs with perpendicular recording. It has three platters and six heads as opposed to the other models each of which has two platters and four heads. Fujitsu must have wanted to reach the storage capacity of 250 gigabytes when developing the MXH2250BT but couldn’t do that with two platters. The addition of a third platter made the HDD thicker than usual: 12.5 millimeters as opposed to the standard 9.5 millimeters. These 3 millimeters of difference seems to be a trifle, yet it is a serious thing when it comes to devices with high component density such as notebooks. HDD bays in notebooks, compact PC cases and external enclosures are designed for standard-size 2.5” HDDs and a drive with a thickness of 12.5 millimeters may just not fit in.
Otherwise, these HDDs are very similar in their declared specs. All of them are connected with a Serial ATA interface and have 8 megabytes of cache memory.
The two HDDs from Fujitsu have different spindle rotation speeds: 4200rpm for the MHX2250BT and 5400rpm for the MHY2250BH. Consequently, they differ in such parameters as latency (the average sector wait time which equals half the time of a full turn of the platter), power consumption and noise level. The MHX2250BT has a latency of 7.14 milliseconds as opposed to the MHY2250BH’s 5.56 milliseconds. The slower model produces some 15% less noise and consumes 0.3W less at reading and writing. Based on three platters, the 4200rpm model is 3 millimeters thicker than the dual-platter MHY2250BH. Fujitsu doesn’t disclose any additional information about these products.