HD Spindle Speed vs Performance

Discussion in 'PowerPC Macs' started by Xernicus, Jan 25, 2015.

  1. Xernicus macrumors member

    Jan 25, 2015
    Seattle, WA, USA
    Hey guys :)

    It's come time to upgrade the existing hard disk that's in my iBook G4- a 5400RPM, 30GB Toshiba that came factory installed. I have quite a few 2.5" PATA hard drives available to me, however each come with their own pros and cons.

    Ideally, I plan on doing this upgrade in two phases. Taking the iBook G4 apart isn't what I'm worried about, rather the condition of the plastics after screwing (and unscrewing) the various components, so I want to limit how many times I take this thing apart. I'd make an image of my hard disk using Disk Utility onto my FW400 drive (as I have no 2.5" PATA to 3.5" PATA or USB/FireWire adapters on hand at the moment) and then throw in one of these HD's and copy the image over. After I've saved up, I plan on buying a PATA SSD from OWC or an mSATA card with an adapter and throwing that in.

    So here's my conundrum:
    I have 3 HD's:
    One 40GB @ 5400 RPM old TiBook G4 drive (10GB upgrade, no speed change)
    Two 60GB @ 4200 RPM (30GB upgrade, with a speed drop of 1200 RPM)

    I'd like to throw in one of those 60gig HD's, as that would prevent me from having to toss around my external FW400 drive as often. However, I'm worried about the performance hit from using a 4200RPM drive and it's affect on Leopard. I've looked at all of the white paper specs, but those really don't tell you what the real life performance of a drive will be.

    So with that said, would anyone know from experience how Leopard feels on a 4200RPM drive compared to a 5400RPM? I suppose I could turn off Spotlight if it'd help to make things smoother, though I rather like it. :p

    Thanks in advance!
  2. bunnspecial macrumors 603


    May 3, 2014
    Having used laptop 4200, 5400, and 7200 drives, I can tell you that the difference between 4200 and 5400 rpms under Leopard is noticeable and I would not use a computer with one in it.

    I'm actually running a 7200 rpm drive in my A1138(last generation, high resolution) Powerbook and it's very responsive, although the 7200rpm drive is noticeably loud(it's located right under the trackpad) and also a big battery drain. I'm actually in the process of cloning everything over to an mSATA drive, although have hit some "teething pains" with that that are probably worth a thread of their own. Once I get everything transferred, I may put the 7200rpm drive in my TiBook, and I'll see how much it "perks up."

    5400-at least in a laptop-is a decent compromise between performance and battery life.

    If you do go with an SSD, I'd strongly encourage you to go the mSATA route rather than the IDE SSD route. The mSATA adapter I'm playing with actually mimics the form factor of a regular 2.5" drive.
  3. Xernicus thread starter macrumors member

    Jan 25, 2015
    Seattle, WA, USA
    I must admit, that's what I was expecting to hear. I was a little taken aback to find such a modern drive (it's dated late 2005) with such a slow speed, so I was wondering if I was just imagining that 4200RPM would be dog slow.

    I managed to dig up an old 7200RPM 60 gig drive, though I believe it was suffering from data rot or some funky mechanical problem- if I recall correctly the number of reallocated sectors kept climbing every time I checked it. :rolleyes:

    I'll keep looking around to see if I can find a better match for an internal rotating disk, in the meantime thank you for your mSATA tip, I'll have to check that out!
  4. weckart macrumors 601

    Nov 7, 2004
    Apple has had a Jekyll and Hyde approach to hardware components; being ahead of the curve in certain areas and cheapening out on others - hard and optical drives usually among the areas where pennies were saved. I still remember the rolled eyes in the Macrumors forums when the iBooks persisted with combo drives long after cheaper PC notebooks put in DVD writers as standard.

    Having said that, spin speed isn't always the best barometer of perfomance since platter density can have a marked effect on how zippy data access feels in daily use. Current single platter 5400rpm drives usually outperform older 7200rpm drives quite comfortably. Given how heat dissipation and sound dampening are not amongst Apple's strong suits, I always err on the side of caution. If I can hear a hard drive whirr, vibrate and click - out it comes.

    If you need speed, mSATA is the only way to go, now.

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3 January 25, 2015