Battle of the 1TB Laptop Hard Drives: Samsung vs. Western Digital

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It’s time to replace that pathetic little hard drive that came with your laptop. We reviewed two of the latest one terabyte laptop hard drives: the Samsung Spinpoint M8 and the Western Digital Scorpio Blue to see which one is best.

Meet the Challengers
Samsung is a major player in the world of storage; from DDR and flash memory to hard drives and solid state drives. The Spinpoint M8 quickly became a popular hard drive when it was announced earlier this year because it was the first 1TB hard drive with a 9.5mm height. Previously if you wanted a 1TB internal hard drive, you had to buy a large desktop replacement notebook that supports larger hard drives that are 12.5mm thick. The arrival of the Spinpoint M8 means that almost any current laptop can be packed with 1TB of storage.

Some of our readers already know that Western Digital had another 1TB Scorpio Blue hard drive … only it wasn’t really designed for notebooks. The “old” 1TB Scorpio Blue was a 2.5-inch hard drive with a thickness of 12.5mm (rather than the 9.5mm needed for most laptops). That thicker drive was used mostly inside portable USB hard drive enclosures and storage-hungry devices like the WD TV Live Hub. Now, the new Scorpio Blue WD10JPVT model makes it possible to upgrade the majority of notebooks with 1TB of storage.

Even when you look beyond the surface specs, both the Western Digital and the Samsung are remarkably similar hard drives. Both the WD10JPVT and the Samsung Spinpoint M8 utilize a 500GB dual-platter design, both use 8MB of Samsung DDR memory for cache and both use Marvell controllers (the Scorpio Blue uses the Marvell 88i9346-TFJ2 while the Samsung Spinpoint M8 uses the Marvell 88i9322-TFJ2). Heck, even the warranty coverage is essentially the same: both drives are protected under an industry-standard three-year limited warranty from each of their respective manufacturers.

Synthetic Performance
When you search online to find out the speed of a hard drive most manufacturers and review sites provide the synthetic results from a freshly formatted drive. These results reflect the best possible speed of the drive with nothing on it (except a few test files). These results are relevant if you’re using the hard drive as a second storage drive in your notebook. We used CrystalDiskMark to test both the sequential and random read and write speeds of both drives:

Samsung Spinpoint M8 HN-M101MBB

Western Digital Scorpio Blue WD10JPVT

These test results show two things: both drives deliver extremely fast performance for being 5400rpm hard drives and both drives deliver similar performance. The Western Digital hard drive is slightly faster in terms of sequential read and write speeds (the speed at which the drive can read or write a single large file) but the Samsung Spinpoint M8 has the edge with smaller files and random reads and writes (relevant for background processes in Windows or speed of applications or games while they are in use).

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