2.5-inch hard disk drives used to be considered an attribute of notebooks while their low storage capacity was put up with as an annoying, yet inevitable, drawback. This attitude seems to call for a revision now thanks to the rapid growth of recording density. The capacity of 200-250 gigabytes (and even 320GB in newer models) is quite enough not only for an office/workstation PC but also for a home multimedia/gaming system. What is good about 2.5” HDDs, they feature low power consumption and, accordingly, low heat dissipation. They are also small and produce little noise. No wonder then that we now often hear about non-mobile applications of such HDDs. They are installed into compact computers such as the Mac Mini or AOpen miniPC. People who build silent PCs install such HDDs into full-size system cases instead of noisy 3.5” models. And if you are planning to assemble a compact Network Attached Storage or even an inexpensive 1U server with a good disk subsystem, you may want to consider using 2.5” HDDs as well.
What about performance? How do 2.5” drives compare with their larger counterparts in terms of sheer speed? This question has become even more interesting after 2.5” HDDs with a spindle rotation speed of 7200rpm were introduced. It’s the same speed as 3.5” drives have. In this review, we will try to compare 2.5” HDDs not only with each other but also with two 3.5” HDD models.
We’ll also check out the influence of such parameters as recording density and spindle rotation speed on HDD performance. To carry such a test out we will benchmark not only new HDDs but also previous-generation models. Thus, we will compare, for example, a 7200rpm drive with low recording density and a 5400rpm drive with high recording density.
A total of ten devices will take part in this test session:
- Two 2.5” drives from Hitachi with a spindle rotation speed of 7200rpm: the new 7K200 generation and the old 7K100 generation (its recording density is twice lower)
- Three 2.5” drives from Fujitsu with different spindle rotation speeds: MHW2 BJ (7200rpm), MHY2 BH (5400rpm), and MHV2 BT (4200rpm)
- Three drives from Seagate with a spindle rotation speed of 7200rpm: 2.5” model from the 7200.1 series and two 3.5” models from the 7200.7 and 7200.10 series.
We tried to pick up HDDs with a storage capacity of 200GB but the Fujitsu MHW2 BJ is 160GB (Fujitsu hasn’t yet achieved a recording density of 100GB per platter in its 2.5” 7200rpm drives, and 160 gigabytes is the highest capacity in the series). The Hitachi 7K100 and Seagate 7200.1 belong to the previous generation when the maximum recording density was 50GB per platter and have a capacity of 100GB only. It would have been better to take a Seagate drive from the newer 7200.1 series, but we couldn’t get one.