Why doesn't Apple put 7200 RPM drives in their laptops

Discussion in 'MacBook Pro' started by Minicube, Oct 25, 2011.

  1. Minicube macrumors regular

    Jun 5, 2011
    Now THAT would be an upgrade. Apple positions it's laptops as premium products; why don't they spend the extra few bucks and do it right even in the base models? After having worked on laptops with 7200 and SSDs, I would never go back to a 5400 drive; it's yesterday's tech.
  2. dlimes13 macrumors 6502a


    May 3, 2011
    Perrysburg, OH
    It's all about the $$$. Simple as that.

    Maybe battery life as well.
  3. GGJstudios, Oct 25, 2011
    Last edited: Oct 25, 2011

    GGJstudios macrumors Westmere


    May 16, 2008
    First, they have put 7200 drives in many of their laptops. My Early 2008 MBP came with one, and they're available on the current 15" and 17" MBPs. Also, there's more to drive performance than rotation speed. Some 5400 drives are faster than some 7200 drives because they are of higher density. 5400 drives are not "yesterday's tech".
  4. mjohnson1212 macrumors member

    Nov 15, 2007
  5. alent1234 macrumors 603

    Jun 19, 2009
    i've seen benchmarks of 5400 vs 7200 going back to the last decade. almost no difference. the biggest difference for performance is a drive with NCQ on board
  6. grahamnp macrumors 6502a

    Jun 4, 2008
    The 500gb 7.2k rpm drive was a no cost BTO option but I stuck with the 750gb 5.4k drive because it did better in most tests.

    In general, higher areal density = faster sequential access, higher spindle speed = faster random access.

    Keep in mind that higher capacity does not = higher areal density
  7. Minicube thread starter macrumors regular

    Jun 5, 2011
    I meant as standard equipment, not BTO.

    As for speed, that certainly has not been my real world experience; a 7200 RPM drive blows a 5200 away. And of course we are talking about drives with the same density, 500 gig vs. 500 gig. If there was no speed difference, I doubt very much that hard drive manufacturers would have spent millions doing the R & D to develop 7200 drive.
  8. GGJstudios macrumors Westmere


    May 16, 2008
    I haven't seen any 5200 drives, but some 5400 drives perform better than some 7200 drives.
    500GB is the capacity, not the density. Read the earlier posts.
    As already stated, there are more factors than rotational speed to consider when comparing drive performance.
  9. Minicube thread starter macrumors regular

    Jun 5, 2011
    Sorry about the typo, 5400.

    I'm obviously talking about modern hard drives that have the same density/capacity; the same number of discs inside and the same physical size. Anything else is not a fair comparison.

    I read the OWC article. They are comparing current 5400 drives with 7200 drives from FIVE YEARS AGO in some cases. Apples and oranges. And I'm saying CURRENT 7200 RPM drives are much faster than their 5400 counterparts, given the same density/capacity, and I think Apple should use the better technology in their laptops. SSD is better yet, but I can understand the cost issue there. With rotational speed, it's only a matter of a few dollars. I'm sure that adds up to a lot when you're selling computers by the millions, but since Apple charges a premium for it's laptops, they should have at least the second best technology as standard equipment.

    Someone on the OWC forum asks: "How does a modern 7200RPM drive compare with a modern 5400RPM drive?"

    OWC Michael replies: "Well, as a comparison, the 750GB OWC Mercury Elite Pro mini 7200RPM option using a Hitachi 7K750 TravelStar benched an average of 117.5 MB/s read and 121.3 MB/s write speeds. So definitely a speed boost from spin speed."

    So unless you're putting in a drive from 5 years ago...and I'm not asking Apple to do that.
  10. paolo- macrumors 6502a

    Aug 24, 2008
    I think they are better off keeping it for BTO. They can keep the entry price lower and if you want some other drive, you might as well put it in yourself and save some cash. I also think 7200rpm drives are a bit harder on the battery and probably have a higher fail rate (just guessing, the faster something spins the larger the force become).

    Bottom line, Apple can't create the best possible laptop and keep the price down and their margin up. Honestly, most people that buy a MBP are not pro and probably don't really care about performance as long as it gets stuff done. Still a great laptop but you know, no USB3, no bluray...
  11. thermodynamic Suspended


    May 3, 2009
    They do cost less. The result is a higher profit margin.

    A few tech sites do benchmarks and many 7200RPM hard drives do not use more energy, which renders the claim that they use more energy moot.

    It's equally bad that, given the cost of RAM, $2500 laptops have only 4GB of RAM. But that's Apple's standard. Just wait until they make it difficult to upgrade RAM, especially noting that for iMacs and now MBAs they've made it difficult to swap HDDs or SDDs (Apple-proprietary interface as I recall)...
  12. thermodynamic Suspended


    May 3, 2009
    Then people are being taken for a ride. At least for the higher-end MBPs. And I don't mean lack of USB3, blu-ray, etc. They would be nice to have, but those aren't the reasons. Especially for a high end 17" model that is clearly aimed at content-creation, since people that don't care about performance will not ever shell out $2500 for a high-end laptop.

    I also disagree that the MBP is the "best possible" laptop, though I wish it was THE best possible laptop (thanks to OS X, which - you bet - is the better OS): Unless the cost of the battery is so extensively high that there is no option than to undercut elsewhere (RAM, etc), then they are cutting corners deliberately to pocket the difference, if not trying to coyly say how people don't need the higher-oompf components.

    Not to mention how the 2011 17" model's 90W power supply gets blisteringly hot when the laptop runs on it, and that's due to the supply's wattage being too LOW. (it's also why the 17" lasts far longer on battery than the 15" - because of the raw battery size). Here's a real review that did power tests for the 17" model, and the results are interesting:


    I hope the late-2011, 2.4GHz revamp with faster GPU does have a larger battery and more capable power supply. Otherwise the extra speed will be pointless - for the same reason the early-2011 model doesn't. (I wouldn't have bought the 2.3GHz version, knowing that information...))

    It does not cost much more to throw in a 7200RPM laptop.

    It costs $60 more to upgrade to 8GB RAM. It's not green for a person to buy a $2500 laptop just to replace the RAM and let two 2GB modules gather dust.

    Is profit so much an issue that Apple will not be a little kinder toward those shelling top dollar for purportedly production-grade specs at a price that is definitely the sort that only a professional would spend money on?

    As for battery life:


    There are a lot of interesting differences, some are in the 5400's favor I will admit. Still, boot times are better with 7200RPM, as is video editing (if people do that on a laptop, but the 17" is worthy as a desktop-replacement...) For this I'm now ambivalent, but I do think it is about cost-cutting more than anything else that they stick with 5400RPM.
  13. fisherking macrumors 603


    Jul 16, 2010
    ny somewhere
    it's ALWAYS been an issue for 13" macbook pro users.
    i do mostly pro audio on my mac, so i prefer a 7200rpm drive, but...apple will not give me that option with the 13".

    so i'll get a new mbp next month, take the 750gig drive out (i WILL put it in an enclosure and use it LOL).

    but wish i at least had the option at purchase (so i wouldn't have to replace the drive, re-install the OS, etc).
  14. Minicube thread starter macrumors regular

    Jun 5, 2011
    I just think that on a premium laptop, 7200 should be standard. It would make more of a difference than the most recent CPU upgrade, which no one will notice.
  15. paolo- macrumors 6502a

    Aug 24, 2008

    Yeah people are taken for a ride but there are quite a lot people that want a 15" Apple laptop, not all of them are pro users. Lots are students, amateurs, quite a few gamers, and people who just want a laptop for their home that's not 13". Same with the 27" iMac. And even within pro users not everyone needs the most powerful thing that's out there, just think of photographers, most wouldn't have any trouble with a MBP from a couple years back.

    I said I don't want a 7200 in there, just because I want an SSD that I put in myself as I'm due to change my laptop right now :p (probably with optibay). But I do agree that the HDD is the bottle neck right now with the fast CPUs that we have, 7200rpm be a nice addition for not that much $$$, actually I would take a 500GB 7200rpm HDD over a 750GB 5400rpm any day. From my understanding Apple isn't doing so because the average Joe cares more about storage (even though most people probably don't even use 100GB) than speed and the additional cost of speed is not worth it. Apple makes great computers and have the industries highest margin at something like 30% compared to Acer's 3%, mind you they can lower the price by having so few model choice and selling in large volumes, but as long as enough people are buying they don't have a reason to give you a better computer for less.

    I'm not sure why you're disagreeing with me on that point when both of us are saying that it's not the best possible laptop.

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