HDD: 7200 Performance vs Battery Life

Discussion in 'Buying Tips and Advice' started by Propagator4, Jan 23, 2011.

  1. Propagator4 macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Jan 22, 2011
    #1
    So my 60 GB Macbook is filled almost to the brim, way more than is recommended. I'm a student now, and don't want to buy a new laptop until I graduate, so need a bigger internal hard drive. This also means I'm focusing on cheaper disk drives rather than solid state drives. Can someone give me some advice? I'm trying to decide between a 250GB 7200rpm and a 320GB 5600rpm. Here's what I'm thinking:

    I WAS looking at a 250GB 5600rpm until I saw that it was only $5 to upgrade either the capacity or the spin speed on OWC. I'm curious about how much of a difference the extra 1600rpm will make in terms of performance. I only have 2GB of RAM, so I imagine my computer is somewhat likely to need to temporarily write stuff onto the disk when my RAM is full and thus would benefit from the 1600rpm. However, my battery is also going downhill, so I'm worried about how much extra battery a 7200rpm disk is likely to use than my current 5600rpm.

    One added item of interest is that the 250GB 7200rpm has 16MB cache, while the 320GB 5600rpm has 8MB. I figured 8MB would be plenty, but maybe I'm wrong.

    Thoughts?
     
  2. GGJstudios, Jan 23, 2011
    Last edited: Jan 23, 2011

    GGJstudios macrumors Westmere

    GGJstudios

    Joined:
    May 16, 2008
    #2
    It's not just the rotation speed; it's also the density of the drive. A higher-density 5400 rpm drive can be faster than lower-density 7200 rpm drives. In addition, some 7200 drives require less power than some 5400 counterparts. If the two drives you're considering are of the same manufacturer, chances are you'll notice little, if any, impact on battery life with either. The larger cache on the 7200 is desirable, but again, the difference will be negligible in day-to-day usage, unless you routinely have significant read/write operations going on. Most users' hard drives are idle more than they're active.

    What do you mean your battery is "going downhill"?

    This should answer most, if not all, of your battery questions: Apple Notebook Battery FAQ
     
  3. Propagator4 thread starter macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Jan 22, 2011
    #3
    Thanks for getting back to me.

    I'm not sure what you mean by density. Is it a function of the total capacity of the drive and the number of discs in the drive? I'm looking at several different drives on Mac Connection and OWC. OWC has a Seagate 250/7200 and Hitachi, Western, Toshiba, and Seagate 320/7200. MC has more 250/7200s, but they start to get slightly more expensive (we're talking single digits, but I'm trying not to start sliding down the slippery slope of spending here).

    My battery is several years old, and doesn't last as long as it used to. Lately, when it reaches 20% I need to reach for the charger quickly, as it is likely to shut off within a few minutes. This is true even if I'm just browsing and word processing (albeit, through Windows with Fusion).
     
  4. GGJstudios macrumors Westmere

    GGJstudios

    Joined:
    May 16, 2008
    #4
    Yes, the capacity, not the number of discs (which is typically one.) For example, a 5400 rpm drive with 500GB capacity has higher density than a 7200 rpm drive with 160GB, and may be much faster, as a result. This can vary somewhat from brand to brand and model to model, but is generally true.
    Have you properly calibrated your battery? Read the Battery FAQ I posted for directions and more info related to getting the most out of your battery.
     
  5. c1phr macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Jan 8, 2011
    #5
    I'm probably going to see myself in this boat shortly as well when I get my new MBP. Is there anyway to figure out power consumption and drive density before hand? I've tried looking at the Seagate website to find any trace of info (WD's was down) and not even power consumption was listed.

    Also, what drives would you recommend in specific? I've heard mixed things from many people about different brands of drives that cause vibrations/noise/eat battery life.

    @ the OP:

    I don't mean to steal your thread, I hoped that the questions I posted would be able to help you as well. About your battery, you might want to try calibrating it (Check the link that GGJsudios posted and scroll down a bit), I've heard that it can help immensely with meters that seem off like that.

    Edit: Looks like he beat me to the calibration line :p
     
  6. Propagator4 thread starter macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Jan 22, 2011
    #6
    Ok, so is density simply that a disc that has more bytes on it is more dense than a disc with fewer bytes on it, assuming the discs are of equal surface area?

    This is a new concept for me, it didn't occur to me that a disc that had more bytes to read would perform faster. Is there a rule of thumb for the point at which the difference in density is not great enough to offset the difference in speed (in other words, if you have two equal drives, and increase one by 1600 rpm, how many bytes must you add to the other drive for them to perform equally)?


    By the way, I appreciate your help with the battery, but I mentioned that in the beginning for edification purposes, so those reading my questions would understand why power usage is an issue.
     
  7. GGJstudios macrumors Westmere

    GGJstudios

    Joined:
    May 16, 2008
    #7
    This should help answer some of your questions:
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Memory_storage_density#Effects_on_Performance
     
  8. Vantage Point macrumors 65816

    Joined:
    Mar 1, 2010
    Location:
    New Jersey
    #8
  9. Propagator4 thread starter macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Jan 22, 2011
    #9
    Read and digested. Thanks again.

    And the slippery slope reveals itself, and for me requires the question: Are there reasons not to put a big 2-year-old drive in a new computer that comes with a smaller drive?

    I'm not sure it would be prudent to get a drive that large (sounds weird, I know). Reason being is that I'm likely to need a new laptop in two years or so, and if, at that time, my old laptop has a drive that's twice as large as the drive in my newer laptop, I will be tempted to switch my old drive into the new laptop. Something tells me that putting a 2-year-old drive in a brand new laptop is not wise. If I'm wrong, please let me know.

    I know it's only 10 bucks, but I originally started off looking at a 120 GB drive and have slowly gotten bigger and more expensive.
     
  10. Vantage Point macrumors 65816

    Joined:
    Mar 1, 2010
    Location:
    New Jersey
    #10
    Something tells me that putting a 2-year-old drive in a brand new laptop is not wise. If I'm wrong, please let me know.

    Putting a larger drive in now means better performance today. See this article
    http://macperformanceguide.com/Storage-WhyYouNeedMoreThanYouNeed.html

    Also, using your old drive as a backup is efficient use of old hardware. You can use a smaller hard drive as a cloned backup or time machine backup. You can use a larger drive and partition it to hold your library, clone and/or TM backup. In two years when you upgrade your computer chances are the drive will either be bigger or faster (SSD) but the old drive will be useful as a backup.
     
  11. bender o macrumors 6502

    bender o

    Joined:
    Mar 14, 2009
    #11
    This really is a steal!! How much performance boost will I get upgrading to this from a 250Gb stock HDD on a mid 2010 macbook pro with 8gb RAM?

    Ps: Sorry for hijacking your post also :)
     
  12. ThomasJL macrumors 6502a

    Joined:
    Oct 16, 2008
    #12
    I recommend getting a drive from Western Digital. By all means, stay away from Seagate, as their quality control has dropped like a stone in the past couple of years.
     
  13. Vantage Point macrumors 65816

    Joined:
    Mar 1, 2010
    Location:
    New Jersey
    #13
    The short answer is it depends. The price of $59.99 is recent, last week it was $65 and last month it was $69.99.

    RAM vs Drive speed/size for better performance depends on what you are doing. More RAM will be much more useful for 64-bit RAM hogging programs like Photoshop CS5 and will help a lot with Aperture - see attached screen shot below where I am using both and tapping out my 8GB RAM. For general use like web surfing or using iWorks the difference in RAM will be minimal. But, once you open a program the first time after booting up it should open faster the second time after you Quit it because with more RAM that program will remain reside in the Inactive RAM. One way to see how your RAM is going is to keep the Activity Monitor in the Dock and then go to View - Dock Icon and change it to Show Memory Usage. That will change the icon in the dock (after you click on it once) to a real time pie chart showing your current RAM use. Great way to gauge if you need more RAM. Also, check the Activity Monitor for Page Outs. If that number is in the GB range after you open and use the things you use, then you can benefit from more RAM instead of using the slower hard drive for scratch.

    Regarding the hard drive performance. Part of the difference is how much or your hard drive you are using. If it is over 50% full and closer to 75% or more, then a bigger hard drive will increase read/write performance. The more it is full (assuming the same data density and speed) the better the performance enhancement. Higher spin rates of 7200 vs 5400 or roughly 20% for the same size and density drives will alleviate that potential bottleneck. The more the drive fills up and the more the data is read or written in the center of the drive vs the outer part, the slower the performance. You should see noticeably faster boot times (not SSD like) and programs should open faster because of the faster read times.

    Bottom line is you will get faster performance but it depends on what you are doing because different tasks have different bottlenecks. Sometimes it is about the CPU, sometimes it is RAM and sometimes it is Read/Write (hard drive). Having plenty of RAM and a fast hard drive will make things run smoother. For most of my Photoshop work more RAM made a huge difference - see below.
     

    Attached Files:

  14. bender o macrumors 6502

    bender o

    Joined:
    Mar 14, 2009
    #14
    I already bought the 8Gb ram set from OWC I'm installing it in a few days. I have 20Gb free out of the 250Gb so I should upgrade then right?

    SSD are way too expensive for me right now so that one should be a great option or is there any other you would recommend? I don't do much editing I watch movies mostly and surf the web.

    Thanks for your help :D
     
  15. Vantage Point macrumors 65816

    Joined:
    Mar 1, 2010
    Location:
    New Jersey
    #15
    I would upgrade if I was that full or at least delete or move some of my stuff over to a external drive.

    If you want the best of both worlds then for about $120 you can get a Seagate Momentus XT drive, 500GB, which has 4GB of flash memory which holds frequently used programs. This drive will let you boot up much faster and have frequently used programs load much faster. But, read/write times will be about the same as regular hard drives. For about $120 is might be worth it but if you don't care for shaving 20 seconds or so off your boot time then I think the Hitachi I mentioned above is better value for only $60 from Amazon.

    Here is an article which shows the Seagate XT vs the Seagate non-XT vs the Hitatchi http://macperformanceguide.com/Storage-Drive-Seagate-MomentusXT-500GB.html
     
  16. bender o macrumors 6502

    bender o

    Joined:
    Mar 14, 2009
    #16
    Wow great article thanks :) one last question, will the change of hdd improve 720p mkv movie playback?

    Thanks again :D
     
  17. Vantage Point macrumors 65816

    Joined:
    Mar 1, 2010
    Location:
    New Jersey
    #17
    Probably not. That more the job of a graphics chip.
     
  18. escozul, Mar 21, 2011
    Last edited: Mar 27, 2011

    escozul macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Jan 2, 2010
    #18
    Hope my experience can also help

    I've bought the 8gb from OWC on my Late 2009 unibody Macbook and the change in speed was amazing! It was like I got a new laptop! Best investment ever.

    A week ago I also bought the 750GB 7200rpm WD 2.5'' HDD to replace my WD 500GB 5400rpm HDD.

    I also noticed a small speed increase. Bootup speed increased dramaticaly making it a pleasure to restart! :D

    So now my macbook works excelent!... almost... I noticed that my battery life dropped about 30-20% Especially when I do lots of disk using stuff, it eats up battery like crazy! I am lucky to get 3-3,5 hours out of my macbook where I used to get 4-5 (not meaning heavy graphics stuff. I mean normal every day stuff)

    The macbook is 15 months old. Was purchased late december 2009.

    Old HDD was a scorpio blue and the new one is Scorpio Black. I think that scorpio blue was supposed to have low consumption? Not sure about that though.

    Hope I helped.

    PW: I did the battery calibration thingie.

    edit: Yup, I'm positive about the conclusions I made earlier. Scorpio black eats up much more battery (don't care what the tests show. I'm not trying to promote any company so...). However, the performance of my macbook is a dreeam. It just works GREAT!

    So final deduction, Get a bigger faster drive. It might eat up your battery, but your system will work like a charm!
     

Share This Page