For those looking to boost laptop performance, one area to
upgrade is the hard drive. Due to battery power consumption and
price considerations, laptops use relatively low capacity and
relatively slow hard drives. Indeed, on the budget end of most
laptop lines you will most likely find cheap 4,200 RPM disks with
small 2MB buffers. Upgrading one of these drives can lead to
substantial speed gains when working with a typical office suite
of applications according to tests reported by Storage
Solutions of several laptop hard drives. The downsides? Cost
and shorter endurance times before you have to recharge the
batteries of your laptop.
Only you can decide what tradeoff you are willing to live with
but if you choose to upgrade your hard drive the Storage
Solutions review seems to indicate it may be worthwhile. Although
no test can be exhaustive of every type of drive available, I
think the Storage Solutions test covers the major players:
Fujitsu, Hitachi, Samsung, Seagate, and Western Digital.
As one would expect, for the most part, the faster the spindle
speed, the higher the performance. Hence, it should come as no
surprise that the Hitachi Travelstar model 7K100 7,200rpm disk
comes out on top for most of the tests.
The problem is, the Hitachi costs about $200USD for 80GB of
storage. As a comparison, in the desktop world you could get a
300GB drive for about the same price. So, although you can gain a
speed increase by switching from a 4,200rpm drive up to a 7,200,
the cost will also be relatively substantial. If that equation
works for you, then the Hitachi is probably the way to go.