5400rpm vs. 7200rpm

Discussion in 'MacBook Pro' started by MR.BUTTON, Jun 9, 2012.

  1. MR.BUTTON macrumors member

    Apr 2, 2012
    Vancouver,Canada and Shanghai,China
    Is there any major speed difference between the two hard drives? Some say 7200rpm drains battery faster.
  2. ahdickter macrumors 6502

    Jun 12, 2011
    Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
    Some people will claim that there is a noticeable speed increase, but I find there isn't a huge speed bump. You're better off getting an HDD with an SSD cache like the Seagate Momentus XT.
  3. Big-TDI-Guy macrumors 68030


    Jan 11, 2007
    Depends on what you do, but I don't believe the additional power used by a 7200rpm drive outweighs the performance boost it provides. I've got a tiny mountain of 5400 drives that have been replaced by their faster cousins.

    That said, solid state puts platters to shame in terms of speed and power consumption. At the expense of cost, obviously.
  4. takeshi74 macrumors 601

    Feb 9, 2011
    Which ones, specifically? Spindle speed can affect performance but it's not the only variable that does.

    You don't get something for nothing. How do you think the faster RPM's are achieved?
  5. Xcallibur macrumors 6502a


    Jul 24, 2011
    It'll probably be worth waiting for as long as possible to get an SSD if your buying a fast storage drive.
  6. throAU, Jun 9, 2012
    Last edited: Jun 9, 2012

    throAU macrumors 603


    Feb 13, 2012
    Perth, Western Australia
    Yup, very much depends what you do. Sequential reads or writes a 7200 won't be much faster, but if your disk is rather fragmented, or you are accessing lots of small files, then 7200 will be a bit faster.

    Most of a disk's IO time when accessing small files is rotational latency (i.e., waiting for the sector of the file to rotate into position under the drive's head), and a 7200 is say 30% faster in that respect.

    But.... that is considering equal size drives.

    A 5400rpm drive that is 1tb in size will probably be faster than a 7200rpm 500gb drive because the first half of the disk is faster, and on a 1tb drive the 500gb worth of files will all be in the first half of the disk.

    If you're willing to get a bigger drive and keep it under 50-60% full, it will be faster than a drive of the same speed but near max capacity storing the same amount of data.

    see here:


    Given that 5400rpm drives are generally larger, the difference isn't so clear cut. If you're looking to keep a 7200 rpm drive with heaps of free space, go for it. But if you're going to be pushing to fit your data into a 7200, and a 5400rpm drive will give you a lot more free space, the 5400 may well be faster.
  7. ayeying macrumors 601


    Dec 5, 2007
    Yay Area, CA
    I noticed a big increase in performance using a 7200RPM hard drive vs a 5400RPM drive. Maybe using virtual machines has something to do with it though?
  8. throAU macrumors 603


    Feb 13, 2012
    Perth, Western Australia
    Possibly, if you are thin provisioning your VM disks, they will get fairly fragmented as they grow - and higher rpm drives are quicker at moving to different file fragments.

    For maximum Fusion disk performance, do not thin provision disks ("allocate all disk space now" or similar in the disk setup).

    Not sure what the option is in parallels or virtual box, but the same theory applies.

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