160GB @ 5400 rpm or 200GB @ 4200 rpm?

Discussion in 'MacBook Pro' started by mongobongo, May 1, 2007.

  1. mongobongo macrumors member

    May 1, 2007
    Which of these two BTO hard drives, for the 15" MacBook Pro, is actually faster?

    The 200GB uses perpendicular recording so the rpm numbers are not comparable as far as I know.

    Does anybody know which one provides the highest overall performance or can link to a test somewhere?

    I dont suppose there is any official word from Apple on this matter?

    Thanks for any replies!
  2. flir67 macrumors 6502

    Jun 23, 2005
    I would say the 5400rpm is faster but you didn't specify cache on either of them get one that has 16mb cache and is 5400 or 7200rpm

    best of luck
  3. Vidd macrumors 6502a


    Mar 7, 2006
  4. FF_productions macrumors 68030


    Apr 16, 2005
    Mt. Prospect, Illinois
    I would think the 5400 rpm hard drive would be faster than a 4200 rpm hard drive.

    You have to make a choice between storage and performance. Do you need that much storage on your internal drive? I would recomend a 7200 rpm hard drive for the fastest performance but not sure if you'd be interested.
  5. Mitthrawnuruodo Moderator emeritus


    Mar 10, 2004
    Bergen, Norway
    I went for the 200 GB @ 4200 on my MacBook. With an ever increasing iTunes library I need space more than the extra speed (though if a 200 GB or more disk @ 5400 is released I might swap again ;)). I notice a bit of a slowdown on start up and when launching (large) applications, but in everyday use it feels just the same. Even a bit snappier than it was when I was down to <10 GB on my old 120 GB disk @ 5400, because the virtual memory has more than enough space to utilize...
  6. dabirdwell macrumors 6502

    Sep 26, 2002
    The 200 is worth it.

    Once the drive begins to fill up, the 160's RPM advantage will be overtaken by the accessibility of unwritten sectors on the 200.

    More storage and faster access when the drive is storing a large amount of data.
  7. mongobongo thread starter macrumors member

    May 1, 2007
    I dont know anything about the cache for either of the drives. Im talking about the 2 BTO optional drives for the 15" MacBook Pro here and no other drives. I know that there are faster and better harddrives available for people who dont mind changing their harddrives themselves, however, I dont consider that an option for me.

    My point here was that the 200GB drive, although slower @ 4200 rpm uses perpendicular recording as oposed to the 160GB drive @ 5400 rpm. I am merely trying to find out to what degree the perpendicular recording of data will compensate for the lower rpm.

    When theese two drives were introduced as BTO options I heard someone speculate that the 200GB drive could possibly be even faster than the 160GB drive simply because of the perpendicular recording. Now that theese hard drives have been available for a while I am looking for some confirmation about this.

    Thanks for all replies so far!
  8. kbonnel macrumors 6502

    Mar 1, 2004
    In a nice place..

    it is my understanding that the main purpose of perpendicular recording is to increase the number of bits that can be stored in the same amount of space, thus the reason for the larger drives. My Hitachi 160GB 5400 is also a perpendicular setup.

    The question you need to ask yourself between the 200 and 160 is how much data are you going to have on the drive? The speed difference will get closer as each drive fills up. If you are going to be around 130 - 140GB, then I would go for the 200GB, as the 160 would spend a lot more time reading and writing data all over the disk vs. the 200.

    My 160GB is about 90GB full, and it is running great. I was planning on the 200GB, but I didn't see filling it up past 90GB for a while. Now that 160GB 7200 drives are starting to come out, I expect to see 5400 200GB drives around the corner.

  9. Fearless Leader macrumors 68020

    Mar 21, 2006
    I could give you some crazy theories of mine, haven't been tested due to me being poor and lazy. But on a continues read/writes as in audio/video recording/reading the larger slower drive would be better. And on smaller random read/writes the 5400 would be better.

    Now this is according to the logic in my head... and the world would be much different if everything went along with my logic.
  10. Cromulent macrumors 603


    Oct 2, 2006
    The Land of Hope and Glory
    That is not true. If you are working with video you want a drive with a high sustained data rate. Basically you want the fastest you can possibly get, that is why many use a 2 or 3 drive RAID 0 array as a scratch disc.

    Perpendicular writing is not going to make up for the difference in RPM. Go for the 5400 RPM drive if speed is an issue for you. As already stated though that is assuming you don't fill the drive up to the brim.
  11. ambient macrumors member

    Apr 21, 2007
    i faced a similar dilemma when i got my MBP.. i went for the 7200rom kinda wish i went for more space now but...:confused:
  12. DigitalN. macrumors member

    Jan 3, 2007
    just buy an external if you are that worried, there are ones that don't even need to be plugged into a wall now too.
  13. reflex macrumors 6502a

    May 19, 2002
    I went with the 200GB version, as I assumed (correctly) that however slow it was, it wasn't going to be slower than the hd in my previous laptop (also a 4200rpm drive).

    As it turns out, I have no idea if it's fast or not. It does the job and doesn't annoy me. 40GB more hd space is worth that maybe the 160GB is a bit faster.
  14. CRAZYBUBBA macrumors 65816


    Mar 28, 2007
    Go with the 160, unless you're trying to get your comp to run cooler.
  15. EvryDayImShufln macrumors 65816


    Sep 18, 2006
    The 160 is considerably faster. If you need the space though with additional speed, new drives will be coming out soon (250s and 300s) at 5400
  16. Mitthrawnuruodo Moderator emeritus


    Mar 10, 2004
    Bergen, Norway
    Thanks for that... :)

    I have considerably more than 74GB on the 200GB in my MacBook, and that test kind of confers the feeling I've had that, with +90GB the 200GB@4200 is faster than the 120GB@5400. :cool:
  17. iSee macrumors 68040


    Oct 25, 2004
    Ahh, nice link. I had seen some of these drives benchmarked before, but not all together.

    It matches what I had seen before: 5400 160 GB is faster than the 4200 200 GB while the drivers are relatively empty. They are about even when both are filled with about 74 GB, and the 4200 200GB pulls handily ahead as the drives fill up.

    For me it is basically inconceivable that I'd use less than 90 GB on my MBP, so I'm a good candidate for the 200GB over the 160GB. Still, I'm waiting for a compatible 5400 200GB drive before I upgrade (I have a 5400 120GB right now.)
  18. Hls811 macrumors 6502a


    Apr 19, 2004
    New Jersey
    I'm having the same dilemma.. I want 200GB, but am concerned w/ the speed hit. I don't know what to expect out of a 200GB 4200 speeds..

    I'd say the most intensive thing I do is light photoshop - I'm not a guru by any means, so I don't want anything that'll hinder performance...

    Right now, I have a 160GB drive and I have 50GB free.. But, I have yet to install Parallels and/or Boot Camp - I assume when I do install one of them, thats another 15-20GB gone and I'm getting close to the point of filling it up and causing slowdowns...

    Has anyone actually compared the 2 drives in "normal" activities - boot up? Opening Mail/Safari/PhotoShop?

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