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Hitachi Travelstar 7K60 7200RPM 60GB Notebook Drive Tests
(first shipping 7200rpm notebook drive)
Posted: 7/1/2003

Pros: Fastest notebook drive to date as well as the lowest latency. 9.5MM high drive fits iBooks and PowerBooks. (See bottom of this page for drive install guides.) Very quiet in operation.

Cons: Pricey compared to lower RPM models. Limited supply currently.
No life testing done yet in hot notebooks like the PowerBook G4 12in model. No tests in Wallstreet model yet to see if the magnetic sleep/lid sensor issue is present as it was for previous models.


Site sponsors Transintl.com and Other World Computing recently sent loaner Hitachi Travelstar 60GB 7200 RPM (7K60 model) notebook drives for testing. Although they also offer Firewire/USB cased drives, Transintl sent a bare drive and OWC sent the drive in their portable Firewire+USB 2.0/1.1 case (w/Firewire and USB cables, Intech SpeedTools/Utility CD, soft carry case and AC adapter for unpowered FW ports). Both OWC and Transintl told me that initial supplies of these drives are limited, but that should change over time. Original list price for this drive ws $349, but prices have already fell so for the current price see this Transintl page and the OWC site specials page. (Also available already installed in a portable Firewire and Firewire/USB2.0+1.1 cased.)

Test Setup:
I tested all the drives used in this review in an Oxford911 bridge Portable Firewire case. All drive tests were run from an erased drive so rates shown are typically higher than would be seen with an OS and thousands of files on the drive. My PowerBook G4/800 with OS X 10.2.6 was used for all tests and a clean reboot was performed before each test. Other drives used for comparison to the 7K60 were:

  • Hitachi Travelstar 80GN 80GB 4200 RPM/8MB cache
  • Toshiba MK4019GAX 40GB 5400 RPM/16MB cache
  • IBM Travelstar 40GNX 5400 RPM/8MB cache
  • OEM IBM Travelstar 40GB 4200 RPM/2MB cache drive that shipped in this PowerBook G4

I wish I had a spare Powerbook system (and the time) to compare them internally in a PowerBook (on the parallel IDE bus), especially since some readers seem concerned over possible heat issues with the 7200 rpm Travelstar model. However Hitachi has said this drive is designed for internal notebook use and other than a 10% higher powerup/spinup draw, the wattage used for read/write operations per their specs shows literally identical power consumption as previous 60GB/5400 rpm models (see comparison specs below).
Readers have been most concerned over the PowerBook G4 12in (which gets hot even w/4200 rpm drives over the palmrest area) and one reader said that drives with more than 5W power use may not power up in a PowerBook G3 wallstreet. (The 7200 RPM 7K60 drive is spec'd at 5.5W max power use, seen at powerup, typical in-use rates are much less however.) See the specs section below for a comparison of the wattage specs for the 7200 rpm/7K60 drive vs. their 60GB/5400 rpm model.

Performance Tests:
I ran each test after a clean reboot to OS X 10.2.6 with the PB G4/800's onboard Firewire port. To eliminate any effects from the internal drive (limiting transfer rates if it was the source or destination), I ran file/folder duplicate timed tests on each drive (formatted/blank before the test). Shorter times to complete are faster of course:

Duplicate File

The 7K60 (7200 rpm) drive was appx 50% faster than any other drive at the duplicate 100MB file test. Duplicating a folder with thousands of files has more overhead however. Here's the results:

Duplicate Folder

Note: Duplicate folder test times can increase dramatically on a drive with tens of thousands of files installed (i.e. the boot OS X/OS 9 volume). Single file tests and other benchmarks don't take as large a hit.

I used Intech's Benchmark utility (included on the CD with the OWC FW/USB cased drive) 'extended' tests for the maximum file size possible (100MB).

Quickbench 100MB R/W Tests

Here's the results from Quickbench's Random R/W Tests (max file size in this test is 1MB).

Quickbench 1MB Random R/W Tests

The 80GN Travelstar results of the above test are not shown as I could not find my saved results from blank disk tests previously run with it in a FW case (it's now installed inside the PB G4 and nearly 50% full.)

I graphed the results of Helio Lantest v3.1's Read/Write 300MB test (avg of 10 iterations), since the other test results were literally identical for all drives.

Lantest 300MB R/W Tests

I also recorded disk test results using Xbench 1.0 (which seems to be a popular benchmark with readers). Results are in MegaBytes per Second (MB/sec) so higher rates/longer bars are faster.

Xbench 1.0 disk scores

Noise Levels:
Like the Travelstar 40GB and 80GB drives, the 7K60 model was quiet in operation, even during head seeks/IO operations. As I mentioned in my previous review, the Toshiba 4019GX drive's actuators made clearly audible noise during I/O. I'm used to the clicks/actuator noise heard with many drives, but prefer the quiet operation of these latest Travelstar models.

Heat:
I know from past reader comments when the first PR on 7200 rpm notebook drives were announced that this is a concern for many. All I can say is that in the enclosed Firewire/USB case after hours of constant read/write/verify tests (Intech's Integrity test set to the max 10MB size, run for several hours continiously) the case did get slightly warmer than the slower RPM drives in my personal Firewire (only) portable case, but not enough to give me any concern. Hitachi notes the same +55C ambient operating max temperature for the 7K60 as previous models and they stress it was designed for internal notebook use. (I have a friend with a Dell 8100 notebook w/Travelstar 60GB/5400 rpm drive - he's mentioned seeing 60C drive temps reported by PC utils and is still using the drive OK after a year.) I'd welcome reader reports (via email or posted in the searchable drive database) on using the 7K60 in PowerBooks (or iBooks). I'm especially curious about use in early Wallstreets and the PowerBook G4 12in model.

Summary:
Although the 7K60 Travelstar didn't always show a large advantage in benchmarks, in use it really is the fastest notebook drive I've used. It also just feels faster in use. If you must have the fastest notebook/2.5" drive, currently the 7K60 is it. I'm still happy with my 80GB Travelstar model (even though it's a 4200 rpm model with higher latency), as the extra 20GB of storage is a plus for me. (Note - portable/2.5in drive always cost much more per GB than desktop drives. If you don't need an internal PB/iBook drive upgrade or a portable/bus powered Firewire drive, a better value of course is a much higher capacity desktop 3.5in hard drive. For the price of the portable 60GB/7200 rpm FW drives, you can buy a 180GB AC powered Firewire 800 drive.)
If you have a portable Firewire case, as noted in previous articles (see Firewire articles page for build/install guides) you can reuse the old notebook drive in the FW case for backup purposes or additional storage. I've used the popular Carbon Copy Cloner to clone the original PB's drive contents to the new drive (in a FW case), verified the cloned drive was ok (booted from it first) and then swapped the drive inside the Powerbook after completing these tests. (See below for drive install guides for Powerbooks and iBooks.)

Hitachi Travelstar 7K60 Drive Specs:
Taken from the Hitachi Travelstar 7K60 product page:

  • Interface: ATA/6 (media transfer rate 350Mbit/sec max)
  • Capacity: 60GB (currently)
    (reported formatted capacity is appx 55.89GB, due primarily to decimal (1K = 1000) vs binary (1K = 1024) numbering system.)
  • 7200 RPM, 8MB Cache (upper 3158KB used for firmware)
  • Fluid Bearings
  • AFC "Pixie Dust" technology for 40GB per disc (2 discs in the 80GB model)
  • Max Areal Density: 50Gbits/sq. inch
  • Operational Shock Rating up to 200Gs (2ms duration)
  • Non-Operational Shock Rating up to 1000Gs (1ms duration)
  • Avg Latency: 4.2ms (lowest of any notebook drive)
  • Seek time: 10ms (avg), 1ms (track/track), 18ms (full stroke)
  • Power: +5VDC, 5.5W max peak (startup), 2.6W seek, 2.5W read, 2.5W write, Performance idle 2W, Active idle 1.3W, Sleep 0.1W.
  • Power Consumption Efficiency (watts/GB): 0.014
  • Height: 9.5mm, Weight: 115grams
  • Ambient Operating Temp Range: 0-55C
  • Accoustics (A-Weighted Sound Power Bels):
    • Idle (typical/Max): 2.7/3.0
    • Operating (typical/Max): 3.3/3.5

Here's a quick comparison of wattage use from the previous 60GB/5400 rpm model vs the 7K60/7200 rpm model:

    60GB/5400 RPM vs 60GB/7200 RPM:
  • Max (startup/spinup) - 5W vs 5.5W
  • Seek (avg): 2.6W for both
  • Read (avg): 2.5W for both
  • Write (avg): 2.7W vs 2.5W
    (7K60 slightly lower)
  • Performance idle (avg): 2.0W for both
  • Active idle (avg): 1.3W for both
  • Sleep: 0.1W for both

The current datasheet PDF file didn't include any MTBF/Reliability ratings although the OEM specification PDF file v1.0 dated May 2003 (the standard, not the "Enhanced Availability" model/spec) linked on the Travelstar 7K60 documentation page had a "Service Life" section noting appx. 5 years or 20,000 power on Hours (whichever comes first) with the following assumptions:

  • Less than 333 Power-On Hours per Month
  • Seeking/Reading/Writing operations are less than 20% of power on hours

That document notes that the "applicable warranty and warranty period are covered by the purchase agreement". I take that to mean that the warranty may vary by dealer or source. The Hitachi warranty page notes a 3 year warranty.

PowerBook/iBook Drive Install Guides:
Here are links to previous Powerbook hard drive install guides I've written over the years (illustrated w/photos) as well as some off-site iBook guides. Like the previous Travelstar drives (and some other brands also) - I suspect that this drive may have the magnetic/sleep sensor issue with the PowerBook G3 wallstreet (1998) models noted in the guide here and in many reports in the drive database over the years. Although thousands of readers have done their own drive upgrades, for some models like the iBook, it's not something a novice may want to attempt. Get qualified help if you're not comfortable doing this personally.




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