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  1. #1

    flilow06's Avatar
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    5400rpm vs. 7200rpm drive
    With the new Macbook Pro's out I thought I had everything all figured out. Then they go and throw the option for a 7200rpm drive back in there. I've read plenty of articles on benchmarks and what not. Want to hear some practical, real-world experiences though. It's a $225 difference... worth it or not. Not just speed-wise, but also reliability.

  2. #2

    Kash's Avatar
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    Two major problems with putting a 7200RPM drive into a laptop: heat and battery power. It's hotter and places a bigger drain on the battery with the faster spinning platters.

    Granted, you'll see a speed boost, especially with loading times, but the above two factors can put a damper on upgrading to 7200RPM

    June 2007
    July 2009

  3. #3

    MaDDoG's Avatar
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    Hi Fillow06....They have always put slower drives into laptops for reliability. Spins faster means bumps can effect the spinning discs more. Plus as Kash said, heat and power go up. Speed wise you notive very little difference. I would only do it if you were getting extra drive space as well.
    "Life isn't about waiting for the storm to pass. It's about learning to dance in the rain."
    MaDDoG's Photo Gallery - http://mcarfa.smugmug.com/

  4. #4

    Kash's Avatar
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    Speaking of drive space. The largest notebook 7200RPM drives aren't anywhere close to the largest 5400RPM drives. So if you want a lot of space, you have to look at 5400RPM drives.

    June 2007
    July 2009

  5. #5

    kgeier82's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Kash View Post
    Speaking of drive space. The largest notebook 7200RPM drives aren't anywhere close to the largest 5400RPM drives. So if you want a lot of space, you have to look at 5400RPM drives.
    arent anywhere close?

    largest apple offers on both sizes seems to be 160gb?


    i see 250gb 4200 now, YIKES
    2.4ghz Unibody | Hitachi 320GB 7200 | 256MB 9600gt

  6. #6

    Kash's Avatar
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    Actually, 250GB is the largest in 5400RPM and 100GB was the largest for 7200RPM until just recently when 160GB drives were announced.

    June 2007
    July 2009

  7. #7

    flilow06's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by kgeier82 View Post
    arent anywhere close?

    largest apple offers on both sizes seems to be 160gb?
    Which I'm more than happy with as far as size. I've heard rumors of boot up times decreasing by as much as ten to twenty seconds. Any truth to that? At this point I'm leaning towards the 5400rpm again as I'll be putting the notebook on my lap every once in a while... and I imagine the 7200rpm drive would like this even less as far as heat is concerned.

    Thanks guys!

    EDIT: Arggh, maybe I should wait until a solid state drive option is available!! JK...

  8. #8


    Member Since
    Jan 18, 2006
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    Quote Originally Posted by Kash View Post
    Two major problems with putting a 7200RPM drive into a laptop: heat and battery power. It's hotter and places a bigger drain on the battery with the faster spinning platters.

    Granted, you'll see a speed boost, especially with loading times, but the above two factors can put a damper on upgrading to 7200RPM
    The battery drain is only 4 minutes for a 7200rpm drive over a 5400rpm drive, so that's not really a valid reason. There is an increase in heat, but it's not horrible. I've had 7200rpm drives in my last three laptops. I would recommend them to anyone who doesn't need insane capacity. Here is the current state of laptop hard drives:

    7200rpm: 200gb (Hitachi)
    5400: 250gb (Hitachi)
    4200: 300gb (Fujitsu)

    So if you don't need speed, Fujitsu is the current capacity king. If you do need speed, Hitachi is the way to go with their 200gb hard drive. Seagate is following closely with 160gb, 120gb, and 100gb 7200rpm hard drives. Hitachi also has a 250gb 5400rpm hard drive. In addition, you can get SSD drives all the way up to 256gb now (although based on current market prices it will probably cost you $2,000 plus your firstborn).

    Regarding performance, 5400rpm is good enough for most people. If all you do is browse the web and listen to music, then 4200rpm is enough to get by (plus you can have a massive multimedia collection on a 300gb 4200rpm drive!). If you want snappy performance, then don't hesitate to get a 7200rpm. I noticed speed improvements all over the place in my previous MacBook Core Duo - faster booting, faster application launches, etc.
    Mac Sites - down for reconstruction

  9. #9

    Sexy Patrol's Avatar
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    If you ever get into any kind of intensive video or sound production than a 7200RPM drive is a very huge plus. Just something to consider...

  10. #10


    Member Since
    Jun 03, 2007
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    2.2GHz MacBook Pro
    Keep in mind that the higher the capacity of the hd, the more dense the info on it is, so it doesn't need to spin as fast as a lower-capacity drive. that said, I wish there was an option to get a 7200rpm drive when I ordered my laptop. 5400rpm really isn't fast enough for any kind of drive-intensive work (I do a LOT of photography work).

  11. #11

    bobtomay's Avatar
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    Well, lets put the rumor to rest first. No, you will not see any 10-20 second cut in boot time. My MBP, takes just barely over 20 seconds with the 5400.

    My own recommendation, if you plan on doing much audio/video editing and/or encoding, then I would say get the 7200 based on my own speed tests.

    If you have a desktop for the above, go for the size and save the $$$.
    I cannot be held responsible for the things that come out of my mouth.
    In the Windows world, most everything folks don't understand is called a virus.

  12. #12

    flilow06's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by bobtomay View Post
    Well, lets put the rumor to rest first. No, you will not see any 10-20 second cut in boot time. My MBP, takes just barely over 20 seconds with the 5400.

    My own recommendation, if you plan on doing much audio/video editing and/or encoding, then I would say get the 7200 based on my own speed tests.

    If you have a desktop for the above, go for the size and save the $$$.
    Thanks for clearing that up! Walked out of the Mac store today with a new 2.2ghz... with a 5400rpm drive. I don't do any crazy photo/video editing. This thing has had blazing boot up times (for the 3 times I have so far) and applications open up instantaneously. More than happy with the 5400...

  13. #13

    Kash's Avatar
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    I have a 120GB drive, so upgrading to 160GB isn't really worth the hassle. But now that a 250GB drive is available, I might actually have to consider an upgrade in the near future. I'll wait for prices to drop a bit more, but 250GB in my Macbook sounds very enticing! Plus, with $20-$30 more, I can have a nice 120GB external drive

    June 2007
    July 2009

  14. #14


    Member Since
    Jan 18, 2007
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    I threw a 7200rpm drive into my C2D MBP, and did notice a speed difference. Applications opened faster (not drastically), and editing in CS3 and Final Cut, seemed a little zippier.
    I didnt notice a decrease in battery life, however did notice the palm rest just a little hotter, however if I didnt know I had swapped it out, I probably would not have been aware.
    In most cases, the HD is always the bottleneck, so I like to have the fastest possible.
    Saying this, the 5400rpm drive is also very efficient. There was nothing wrong with mine, and I never really had an issue with it. I just wanted to see what the faster drive would do, and I think its a worthy upgrade. Its always nice to know that you have the fastest equipment available at the time.

  15. #15

    MaDDoG's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by flilow06 View Post
    Thanks for clearing that up! Walked out of the Mac store today with a new 2.2ghz... with a 5400rpm drive. I don't do any crazy photo/video editing. This thing has had blazing boot up times (for the 3 times I have so far) and applications open up instantaneously. More than happy with the 5400...
    Congrats on the purchase and welcome to the fold.
    "Life isn't about waiting for the storm to pass. It's about learning to dance in the rain."
    MaDDoG's Photo Gallery - http://mcarfa.smugmug.com/

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