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Upgrading Your Notebook Hard Drive: Does It Make Sense?

Using a newer hard drive in your notebook could very likely make sense, depending on the workloads you run. You'll likely be stepping up in capacity, which is important given the smaller ceilings of 2.5" drives versus the 3.5" disks we're used to discussing on the desktop. Advances in technology will also likely yield performance improvements in apps that push the upper bounds of sequential transfer rates, such as content creation-type titles.

MobileMark showed that there are battery runtime benefits to a hard drive upgrade, although the few-minutes difference is tiny, given that we used a laptop equipped with a robust 9-cell battery. Still, a really old and inefficient 2.5” SATA hard drive compared against one of the latest options should deliver around a ten-minute delta in battery life. You'll find the performance differences can be more noticeable, although in our case, basic Windows operations, such as start, hibernation, or shut down didn’t benefit too much.

We’d also like to mention that any hard drive upgrade doesn’t mean the end of your existing drive. Desktops can usually keep old hard drives for a backup solution or added storage. But even 2.5” drives can find new homes. USB 2.0 drive enclosures start at roughly $10. With one of these, you can turn your old system drive into a backup solution or a portable hard drive with little effort and cost.

We will follow up with a separate review of Hitachi’s Travelstar 7K500 and the Toshiba MK5056GSY soon to provide the low-level and application benchmark results on our storage reference test system.

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  • 0 Hide
    goozaymunanos , 31 January 2010 23:17
    stick an SSD in there, whadda you NUTS?!
  • 0 Hide
    goozaymunanos , 31 January 2010 23:22
    less weight, less noise, less heat, less power draw (uh-huh!), 10 times the shock resistance, double the read bandwidth of normal HD's..

  • 0 Hide
    Anonymous , 3 February 2010 01:04
    You forgot 10 times the price. I hope they manage to perfect racetrack memory soon, if you'll excuse the cliche that would give us the best of both worlds.
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    ik242 , 4 February 2010 04:51
    certainly numbers speak for the new drive but i wonder if the recorded performance improvements could be (at least in part) due to better organization of files (not fragmented and possible some redundant junk not included). i would not mind to see same setup restored back onto original hdd (maybe after format).
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    MrToady , 6 February 2010 20:24
    What about us guys out there with old 2.5" IDE laptop drives? Is it worth splashing out on a new drive and more RAM for Windows 7? We can,t all afford SSD,s. It would be pointless anyway with an IDE interface, right?
  • 0 Hide
    njoy , 9 February 2010 03:25
    I'd be a lot more interested to see an article about benefits of stepping up from 5400rpm to 7200 rather than this. Seriously, who in their right mind would want to spend money on a similar (read "same") drive for such little gains? On the flip side, I'm sure there are many people with 320 and 500GB 5400rpm drives who would like to know exactly what the benefits are and whether it worth the money or not...