While there is a pause in the manufacturers’ race for the highest-capacity hard disk, we have accumulated an almost complete collection of 2.5-inch HDDs with a capacity of 320GB and a spindle rotation speed of 5400rpm. There are six models in total, one from each manufacturer. We guess it is a good reason to perform a comparative test session. 320GB drives have become quite ordinary by now. This storage capacity is not the highest available today, because 500GB models have entered the market, but 320GB drives are nonetheless interesting. Their capacity is quite enough for a majority of notebook users while their speed characteristics are impressive because early 500GB drives reached their capacity by increasing the number of platters rather than through an increase in recording density. Every HDD in this review has two 160GB platters whereas 500GB drives have three 167GB platters, so there is almost no growth in recording density. Our comparative review of 320GB and 500GB drives proved that point (as a matter of fact, a 320GB drive was the fastest in that test session).
Now let’s meet the newcomers.
Fujitsu MHZ 2BH: MHZ2320BH
MHZ series drives are the latest generation of HDDs from Fujitsu. Depending on the second part of the series name, these can be three-platter drives with a spindle rotation speed of 4200rpm (MHZ 2BT), popular 5400rpm models with one or two platters (MHZ 2BH), quick 7200rpm versions (MHZ 2BJ), and 7200rpm drives with an integrated data encryption module using a 256-bit AES algorithm (MHZ 2CJ). We’ve got a two-platter MHZ 2BH with a spindle rotation speed of 5400rpm and a data density of 160GB per platter. The sub-series is rather short: our drive is the largest in it while the smallest one has a capacity of only 80GB (a 40GB model used to sell for while, too). The HDD has standard specs for its class, including 8 megabytes of cache memory.
Hitachi Travelstar 5K320: HTS543232L9A300
Life plays odd tricks sometimes. For example, the 320GB model of Hitachi’s latest generation of HDDs has reached us long after the 500GB model (which took part in the above-mentioned comparison of 320GB and 500GB drives).
Like Fujitsu, Hitachi offers a few families of 2.5-inch drives with 350GB models. Besides the standard 5400rpm model we’ve got, there is a 7200rpm model (7K320 series), three-platter models of the 5K500 series, and two nonstandard 5400rpm variants. One of them, the so-called EA model, has the letter E instead of S as the third symbol in the name and, according to the manufacturer, suits best for continuous all-day operation. The company doesn’t say what exactly is changed in this drive to make it more suitable for such load, though. And another is a drive with hardware encryption (its name ends in 01 rather than 00). Contrary to Fujitsu’s products, it is 5400rpm rather than 7200rpm drives that feature such encryption in Hitachi’s line-up. Their interface bandwidth is also limited to 1.5Gbps as opposed to the other models’ 3Gbps.
Again, we will test the standard model that doesn’t have any improvements or special features.