I heard some weird scratching sound coming from the HDD today, kind of sounds like what you hear if you shake up a bottle of coke and then open the lid just enough for air to escape.

I downloaded HD tune and it said that i have a 5400 RPM drive in my laptop. I looked online and found a Western Digital scorpio black for sale at a decent price.

I'm wondering if i'll notice any speed difference between a 5400 drive (with 8MB buffer) and a 7200 one (16MB buffer)? I don't think I've ever had a laptop with faster than 5400 so I wouldn't know.

  • HD Tune results for read test: minimum 20.5MB/s, max 85.4MB/s, average 63.4MB/s. Access time 19.5ms, burst rate 76.1MB/s (this is for the hitachi drive currently in the laptop). – stevemcqueenn Jul 13 '11 at 5:16
  • Laptop drive rotational speeds affect them differently since the platter size is smaller; a 5400 RPM laptop drive has performance comparable to a 7200 RPM desktop drive. – Ignacio Vazquez-Abrams Jul 13 '11 at 5:24

I bought the 320 Scorpio Black a few weeks ago. It's definitely faster, but is slightly noisier. I don't regret buying it - file copy speed are substantially faster.

  • I use a 7200 drive in my Macbook as well and I'm happy. One other disadvantage of 7200 drives though is that they use more battery power. – Tomas Andrle Jul 13 '11 at 8:09
  • True, though I haven't noticed a drop in battery life. Fans do run more though, but that might just be that I'm noticing it more. – Rich Bradshaw Jul 13 '11 at 8:20
  • I bought the 320 GB Scorpio Black a long time ago. Would recommend it to anyone. Doesn't seem to have a detrimental effect on battery life either. – boehj Jul 13 '11 at 10:36

Considering the price difference today is generally not so great, I wold go with 7200 every time. I would say that the performance increase is very noticeable, but of course, like anything faster, you get used to it in a hurry, and it then seems normal again.

Other than that, if you hear scratching on your current hard drive, I would try to image it ASAP, or at least have a copy of your data moved off the drive. Based on your question, it could go at any time, or not at all, but you should be prepared, data-security wise.

  • I'd like to image it from a linux live cd but i don't have an external hdd big enough to fit the image :( – stevemcqueenn Jul 13 '11 at 5:25
  • See if you can borrow one if you have to since your data is clearly at risk. Keep in mind that when you image it, it is usually compressed by about 40%, so it might fit. – KCotreau Jul 13 '11 at 5:34
  • how does dd if=/dev/sda of=/dev/sdb compress it 40%? – stevemcqueenn Jul 13 '11 at 5:43
  • No idea. I am not a Linux guy, so I use Windows utilities, which all seem to get 40%. There is always a compression option with numerous choices as to how compressed you want it. – KCotreau Jul 13 '11 at 6:10
  • You can use a Clonezilla live-cd to make the image. It gives you several choices of imager and compression to choose from. – Joe Internet Jul 13 '11 at 6:31

There is a performance difference, but whether it will matter to you depends on whether the drive is causing a bottleneck or not for the type of work you are doing on the computer.

There's also some differences in noise and power requirements, but drives are still a lot quieter now than they used to be, and power management can reduce the power needs down to negligible levels. Unless you are incredibly sensitive to and obsessive about environmental noise, I doubt that this is a deal breaker, since it's not much of a difference.

Bottom line: Get the faster drive if you can but unless you are already having HDD related performance issues, don't spend a fortune extra on it just because it's a little bit faster.

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