We’d like to write the first paragraph about the Hitachi Travelstar 5K500. Its three platters with the now-highest recording density at a spindle rotation speed of 5400rpm is something to be counted with. The large dimensions of the HDD are a downside, but there are few alternatives to it today. There is one 500GB drive from Samsung but we have not yet seen it alive. The Travelstar 5K500 will be good in a server if the load is not mixed but close to pure reading or writing. It will also make a rather fast and very voluminous disk subsystem for a notebook (half a terabyte!) or can be installed into an external rack to provide uncompromising storage capacity. You just have to make sure beforehand that it will fit into your notebook or rack.
The 320GB model from Western Digital is the fastest 5400rpm drive today. It can challenge 7200rpm models, being only inferior to them in access time. Western Digital wrote firmware with excellent algorithms that make good use of the 16-megabyte cache buffer. The only downside of this drive is that it consumes considerably more power than same-class products.
The other two HDDs need to have their firmware revised. The Toshiba MKxx52GSX also seems to have slow mechanics as is indicated by its low performance in most of our synthetic tests. The Samsung SpinPoint M6S left us perplexed: it showed the best speed of reading, good results in FC-Test, excellent multithreaded writing, but also very poor performance in server applications and in PCMark. It seems to have high untapped potential. Hopefully, Samsung’s 500GB model will be much better and effect a small breakthrough on the market of compact HDDs.