5400 rpm vs 7200rpm for 2.5 external HD

Discussion in 'Mac Accessories' started by johnsy, Jul 11, 2009.

  1. johnsy macrumors 6502

    Nov 15, 2006
    Ok, I am on a hard drive buying spree.

    Another thing I am looking to buy is external FW 800 2.5 enclosure (probably OWC on the go) and 500 GB hard drive. There are 2 options for that- 5400 rpm and 7200 rpm. In my macbook pro there is fujitsu 5400 HD. Is it worth to buy 7200 external then? In a future I am planning to upgrade my internal HD too.
  2. MacDawg macrumors Core


    Mar 20, 2004
    "Between the Hedges"
    I have made my preference known often in the many threads about this already

    I recommend the 500 GB 5400 Scorpio Blue

    Scorpio Blue and Black Review

    Others will recommend the Seagate 7200

    It is a matter of personal preference
    Some say the 7200 has vibration issues, others don't have it
    Some say heat and battery drain are issues, others say no

    Woof, Woof - Dawg [​IMG]
  3. gwerhart0800 macrumors 6502

    Mar 15, 2008
    Loveland, CO
    I have a 2.5" WD 500GB Scorpio Blue in an OWC FW800/USB enclosure that I use for transferring data from work to home and back. (I also put one of these WD drives in my early 2008 17" MBP.) I am not keen on the OWC enclosure because it is mostly plastic with only a bottom heat sink for heat dissipation. There are other all metal enclosures that will to a better job with heat. That being said, I have not had any issues with either the drive or the enclosure.
  4. johnsy thread starter macrumors 6502

    Nov 15, 2006
    So does it gets very hot? Also I couldn't understand from online pictures- does metal part- sorta heat sink actually protrudes outside trough plastic casing or not? I am leaning towards OWC because from online reviews it seems very fast enclosure. Of course HD inside will play a big role. In a test version they used Toshiba HD.
  5. johnsy thread starter macrumors 6502

    Nov 15, 2006
    Some googling and I found my answer:



    These two tests have different conclusions. Techreport gives high score to WD and Tom's hardware to Seagate.

    Personally I like Samsung. WD is the only brand I have never had experience with. I think what is what I going to try.

    Conclusion is that 7200 rpm WILL affect your battery, but not necessary will give you the best performance. So 5400 rpm will be my choice.
  6. gwerhart0800 macrumors 6502

    Mar 15, 2008
    Loveland, CO
    The heat sink protrudes out the bottom of the plastic casing and it does get hot. When I am using it for something heavy (lots of disk activity), I usually prop it up on something like a pair of pencils to get some air flow under it.

    The drive attaches to a PC board at the SATA connector and you bolt the drive to the heat sink via screws that go into the sides of the drive. The direct contact area with the heat sink is only the sides of the drive. Plastic is a lousy conductor of heat. If you are only going to be using the external drive on a limited basis, it should be fine. But, if you plan to use it daily, I would look for an enclosure with more metal contact with the drive and a full aluminum case that can dissipate heat.
  7. jcpenn macrumors member

    May 20, 2009
    I've heard that 7200RPM can be really "hot" and may be damaged by the heat if the enclosure has no way to keep it cool. 5400RPM drive seems to have good speed too and it's cooler.
  8. geoffreak macrumors 68020


    Feb 8, 2008
    Just put a 7200RPM drive inside your computer and stick a 5400RPM drive externally. If you really needed speed, you would place things on your internal drive.
  9. nanofrog macrumors G4

    May 6, 2008
    There's a lot of dependence though on both the drive and enclosures used together. YMMV seems to be rather accurate IMO. :D

    So research is needed. Forums help in this regard, but isn't a substitute for other sources. :)
  10. jamesdmc macrumors 6502

    Oct 17, 2007
    I have the FW800 version of the on-the-go and it gets hot even with the stock 250 gig hard drive from my Macbook Pro. That being said, I'm probably going to get another one and put a 500 gig drive in it.

    I always lay it with the heat sink facing up no matter if there's lots of disk activity going on or not.
  11. jdechko macrumors 68040

    Jul 1, 2004
    MacDawg, do you know if those are the same drives they use in the "My Passport" Portable drive line? I would imagine that they would be, but I'm just curious.
  12. spaceballl macrumors 68030


    Nov 2, 2003
    San Francisco, CA
    It depends on what you're doing...

    If you're just doing backup, get the 5400rpm - no reason to spring for a faster drive.

    If you're going be doing something requiring higher performance, then go to 7200rpm. You should also consider going to 3.5" for better performance and also FW800.
  13. johnsy thread starter macrumors 6502

    Nov 15, 2006
    My OWC enclosure arrived. WD 500Gb HD stuck in a mail so far. OWC enclosure is quite bulky compared with any external 2.5 usb hard drive available in a stores. There is a cutout rectangle on a bottom of enclosure and that is where heat sink protrudes. I think it makes barely a millimeter outside. It is quite solid chunk of aluminum, no substitute for all aluminum enclosure, but I think it will dissipate some heat. I am not sure about acrylic case. From my experience acrylic tends to be affected by heat and might yellow and crack. We will see. Cannot comment on anything right now, because I have no hard drive inside enclosure.

    A little bit unrelated note- if you live around Chicago area, DO select cheapest shipping from OWC. These guys are awesome! I ordered second time from them and stuff arrives next day from ordering even I select slowest (cheapest) shipping option!

    Also store available 2.5 hard drives mostly plastic these days. I am not sure about internals, but for example WD offers entire line of plastic enclosures in a different color. Some heat will not damage HD (that is why manufacturer gives operating temperature range), too much heat might.

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