5400rpm vs 4200rpm hard drives

Discussion in 'Macintosh Computers' started by gallivant, Jan 27, 2005.

  1. macrumors member

    Dec 14, 2004
    What kind of real-world performance difference is there? And just as critically, what's the battery impact? On one hand, it takes more power to spin the platters faster; on the other thand, it won't have to spin them for as long. Are there any good numbers anywhere to compare?
  2. macrumors 6502a

    Apr 14, 2004
    I am assuming you mean in the laptops. Check with barefeats, I think when they tested it it made a 7% difference in speed during many tasks. Well worth the low cost of the upgrade in my opinion.
  3. macrumors G3

    Chip NoVaMac

    Dec 25, 2003
    Northern Virginia
    There is a thread here in the last week that we mentioned the actual inks. There seems to be two different reports there. One that supports what you are saying, the other that the 5400rpm is the sweet spot in performance. And yet another that says the 7200rpm beats them all. Go figure. Though the reports do give a good idea as to the tasks the benefit most.
  4. macrumors 65816


    Oct 19, 2003
    It really depends on what you're doing with it. How much time do you spend waiting for the drive in your day to day work? Do you hear it doing a lot?

    My general impression from the links I read was this: on laptops, for most people there is a noticeable improvement from 4200 to 5400.

    Whether there is a noticeable improvement from 5400 to 7200 is debatable. IMO only for specific applications where you are doing a lot of disk I/O.

    If you ask my opinion (and you didn't, but I'll give it to you anyway). For a laptop (and this includes the Mac Mini, since it uses a 2.5" drive) 5400 makes sense, but rather than sacrifice size and cost for a 7200 invest in more RAM and make use of OSX's cacheing abilitites.

    In a desktop, 7200 is really no more expensive than 5400 so why not go for it?
  5. thread starter macrumors member

    Dec 14, 2004
    I'm planning on a PowerBook; my current Dell laptop has a 5400rpm drive, which I bought on a knee-jerk assumption; I knew I'd see a performance difference, but I got curious as to how much, and whether it'd have a battery-life impact. Short answer: Sizable performance boost, no real battery effect. Good enough for me, even if it is a $125 upgrade (at least on the current line).
  6. macrumors 68040


    Oct 7, 2004
    somewhere between here and there.
    If you can I would either get the lower running rpm and low capacity HDD and then do a custom on it and get a 7200 rpm drive, its a far more noticeable speed increase than a 4200 to 5200 rpm. :)
  7. macrumors 6502a


    Dec 13, 2003
    Virginia, USA
    All of apple's ibook upgrades are 4200, as I understand it. Is there any way to buy a new one with a 5400 drive installed?
  8. macrumors 68000


    Oct 1, 2004
    Mountains of Vermont
    I have drives of several different speeds including 4200 rpm, 5400 rpm and 7200 rpm in both ATA internal and Firewire external cases which I have used with a variety of Macs. I have installed the system on each and run off of them at various times. In all cases the faster rpm drives feel __much__ snappier. For my main drives I try to always buy the fastest drive I can because it makes the computer feel much faster just as maxing out the RAM helps. For backup drives I'll buy the less expensive drives.

    Tests done in MacOSX 10.3.5 on a PowerBook Lombard 400MHz 384MB RAM, PowerBook Pismo 500MHz 1GB RAM, PowerMac G4 APG 500MHz 1.25GB RAM, iBook original 266MHz 196MB RAM.


    in Vermont

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