Hitachi Travelstar 7K200 Notebook Drive Review

by Droobie Reads (13,441)

by Drew Niemi

The hard drive that shipped with my laptop was a 160GB 5400 RPM Seagate drive. I’ve never really had a problem with the performance that I was aware of, it’s just that I’m still a victim of my own obsessive desires to tweak the performance of my machines as tight as possible.

Hence, I’ve always been on the lookout for a 7200 RPM drive for my Dell Inspiron 1520. I didn’t know exactly what I was looking for, but I was sure I didn’t want to take a hit in my storage capacity. I know some people argue that it’s silly to have a large amount of storage in a notebook since it’s a more rugged environment and therefore more likely to crash, but I feel comfortable with my methods as I run regular backups on the data that’s most important to me. Like, you know, game saves.

This past week, Newegg had just the deal that made my impulse purchase senses tingle. I was able to buy a Hitachi Travelstar 7K200 HTS722020K9SA00 200GB 7200 RPM 16MB Cache SATA-150 Notebook Hard Drive for about $136 after rebate and shipping.


Specifications

  • Brand: HITACHI
  • Series: Travelstar 7K200
  • Model: HTS722020K9SA00 (0A50940)
  • Interface: SATA-150
  • Capacity: 200GB
  • Cache: 16MB
  • Average Seek Time: 10ms
  • Average Latency: 4.2ms
  • RPM: 7200 RPM
  • Form Factor: 2.5"
  • Features Third-generation PMR technology
  • Best application performance in PCMark testing Warranty: 5 years
  • Price: $129.99 (plus shipping)

Setup

To install this hard drive, I used a version of Acronis True Image Home. I had purchased an external drive enclosure from Newegg, placed the 200GB drive in the enclosure, cloned my existing hard drive to the 200GB drive (keeping the partitions the same with the same ratio), and installed the 200GB Hitachi into my notebook.

Before running each set of benchmarks, I defragmented each disk using JkDefrag.

I played around with different ways to do this, but all in all this should have been done in a few hours – mostly unmonitored.

Test Setup

  • Dell Inspiron 1520
  • Intel Core 2 Duo T7100 @ 1.80 GHz
  • 2.5GB DDR2 @ 667MHz
  • Nvidia GeForce 8600M GT 256MB DDR2
  • Windows Vista Home Premium 32-bit

Performance

I’m actually quite pleased with the performance upgrade. I’ve noticed some slight boosts here and there, although I haven’t timed any game loads or real world applications. Check out the screenshots below and you’ll see the differences in performance.

HDTune

160GB Seagate 5400 rpm hard drive:

200GB Hitachi 7200 rpm hard drive:

  • 51% increase in Average transfer rate from 32.3MB/sec to 48.9MB/sec
  • 41% increase in Minimum transfer rate from 20.8MB/sec to 29.3MB/sec
  • 58% increase in Maximum transfer rate from 41.2MB/sec to 65.3MB/sec
  • 9% decrease in Access Time from 16.8ms to 15.3ms
  • CPU Usage unaffected – duh…
  • 28% decrease in Burst Rate from 69.2MB/sec to 53.9MB/sec – I’m unsure why this happened and what affect it will have on performance

In short, I’m very pleased with HDTune’s results

Atto

160GB Seagate 5400 rpm hard drive:

200GB Hitachi 7200 rpm drive:

  • Files smaller than 8k in size saw a decrease in performance.
  • Files larger than 8k saw a noticeable increase in performance from ~35MB / sec to ~52MB / sec

Windows Performance Index

160GB Seagate 5400 rpm hard drive:

200GB Hitachi 7200 rpm hard drive:

  • Incredible change in Disk data transfer rate jumping from an index score of 4.7 to an index score of 5.4

As a side note, the HDD temperature measurements for both drives reflects that they operate within what I’d call the same range of about 42-46 degrees C. Also, I’d like to point out that the Hitachi drive is much quieter when accessing data. There is a random movement of the drivehead reader now and again which is quite loud, but I don’t see it becoming a problem for me.


Conclusion

To sum it all up, I’m pleased with the upgrade. Not only did I get a noticeable bump in performance, I managed to get an extra 40GB of space, too. The drive doesn’t operate any hotter, and since my laptop operates more as a desktop replacement with short burst of portable use, I’m hardly affected by the change in battery life (if any).

Pros

  • Speedy: in a fair amount of results, it’s 40-50% faster than my previous 5400rpm drive
  • Quiet during operation in comparison to my 5400rpm 160GB 2.5" notebook drive, a 10,000rpm raptor 37GB 3.5" drive, and a 7200rpm Seagate 200GB 3.5" drive nearby.

Cons

  • Random quiet/moderate drive head noise while drive is idle


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