View Full Version : ?Speed difference between 5400 & 7200 Hard Drives?

09-22-2005, 08:01 AM
I am planning on purchasing a new Powerbook 15 inch (hopefully in the next month if the rumors of the speed bumped CPU powerbooks is true).. I noticed a post of a company called TechRestore that has overnight service and will install a 80 Gb or 100 Gb 7200 hard drive in a laptop, copy your data, and send you back the old drive in an enclosure as a potential backup. The prices are between $350 and $450, depending on what you choose. Assuming that I am happy with the size of my hard drive, is the speed bump of the hard drive going from 5400 to 7200 RPM worthwhile and noticeable?



09-22-2005, 09:32 AM
Yes but the noise will also increase and battery life decrease (to the best of my knowledge.)

My advice: Google (http://google.com) for stories/reviews of people that have upgraded 5400rpm drives to 7200rpm in laptops :)

Or wait for people here to weigh in..

(Or do both ;))

09-22-2005, 11:44 AM
I've seen a couple of anecdotal reports that it's faster. It makes sense - OS X relies heavily on virtual memory, data is getting moved on and off the disk constantly, so if your disk is faster, then it's not so much of a memory management bottleneck. You're going to notice more difference if you also work with disk-intensive apps like Photoshop, Final Cut, GarageBand/Logic where large media files are constantly being read and written. You might not notice much difference if you primarily work in Word or other apps that can actually fit the documents and operating code in RAM. If you are the latter type of user, upgrading the drive might be a waste of money.

I never upgraded my PowerBook's hard drive because when I am working on large media files, my PowerBook is connected to a monitor on a desk, and so it is also connected to one or more large, fast 7200RPM FireWire 800 external hard drives, and my big media apps are pointed to those fast external drives for large file storage and scratch files. I found that to be a better, cheaper solution than trying to make that little drive in the PowerBook shoulder all the burden. Even the fastest laptop hard drive isn't going to match a good desktop drive.

09-22-2005, 12:33 PM
Assuming that I am happy with the size of my hard drive, is the speed bump of the hard drive going from 5400 to 7200 RPM worthwhile and noticeable?

That's kind of like asking which is faster, a Porsche or a Ford?

In many cases, the Porsche will be faster (for example a Porsche 911 Turbo compared to, say, a Taurus GL), but if you compare a V8 Mustang to a Porsche 914 (look it up), you will be disappointed to discover that the Ford is faster. Quite a bit faster.

It is difficult to take a large number of drives and make categoric statements on them based on something like spindle speed, which is just one single component in what makes a drive "fast".

Just because a drive turns at 7200 rpm doesn't necessarily mean that it transfers data faster than a drive that turns at 5400 rpm. But usually it does.

You can only get evidence that one specific 7200 rpm drive is faster than one specific 5400 rpm drive, but if you would like to see that type of speed tests, check Bare Feats (http://barefeats.com).

For example, here (http://barefeats.com/pb12.html) is an excellent article about swapping out the stock 5400 rpm drive in a PowerBook for a 7200 rpm drive. This will probably be the closest thing to possible to answering your question.


09-24-2005, 07:51 PM
Having upgraded my eMac's 5400 to a newer 7200, there is a difference, but generally its not much to write home about. Its not like the difference going from 256Mb to 512Mb+ is. Yes there is a general snappy effect, and it helps more with heavy duty apps like Photoshop working on very large files, but just don't expect it to be like going from a G3 to a G4 and you'll probably be happy!