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Notebook Hard Drive Tests:Return to News Page

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Hitachi 80GB Notebook Drive Tests
Posted: 5/13/2003

Pros: Largest notebook drive available to date. 9.5MM high fits iBooks and PowerBooks. Very quiet in operation. Very high density platters give good performance even at 4200 rpm.

Cons: None significant.

Mac Compatibility: iBook and PowerBook G3/G4 Models (unsure about 20th Anniv. Mac compatibility). See bottom of this page for drive install guides.

Site sponsor Transintl.com recently sent a loaner Hitachi Travelstar 80GB notebook drive for tests. I liked the drive so well I bought it as my OEM 40GB (also a Travelstar) in the PowerBook G4 had less than 1GB free. (Update: Prices have fell from the original $299 when this was first written so rather than try and keep up with price cuts, for the current pricing see the OWC site specials page and Transintl drive page.)

Test Setup:
I'd have preferred to test all drives using the internal IDE of the PowerBook G4/800 (DVI) test system, but demands on my time and the fact I couldn't have the PB down due to other work, I tested the drives 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. Although the primary reason to buy this drive is its large capacity, as shown in the test results the high density platters resulted in very good overall performance even compared to a 40GB Toshiba 5400 RPM/16MB cache model (MK4019GAX). (I had bought one of these last year and never used it until these tests.) I also included tests of the original equipment (OEM) 40GB drive that shipped in this PowerBook G4 (an IBM Travelstar 4200 rpm/2MB cache model).

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

Finder File Tests

Note: Duplicate folder test times increase dramatically with the drive run interally with appx 40GB of space used by OS X/OS 9. (With over 100,000 files on the drive, times literally doubled.) Single file tests and other benchmarks don't take as large a hit.

I used Intech's Benchmark utility (included with the drivers) 'extended' tests for the maximum file size possible (100MB).

Quickbench 100MB R/W Tests

I also recorded disk test results using Xbench 1.0.

Xbench 1.0 disk scores

Noise Levels:
Like the OEM Travelstar 40GB drive, the 80GB Travelstar was quiet in operation, even during head seeks/IO operations. The Toshiba 40GB drive's actuators made clearly audible noise during I/O operations. Personally I'm used to the clicks/actuator noise heard with many drives, but have to admit the quiet operation of the Travelstar 80GB model was a plus.

I'm very pleased with the performance and noise level of the 80GB Travelstar, so much so that I bought it rather than return it. If you're looking for the largest drive possible in an iBook or PowerBook, the Hitachi Travelstar 80GB currently is king. I used the popular Carbon Copy Cloner to clone the original PB's 40GB drive contents to the new drive, 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.) 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 drive and retain the old drive for backup purposes or additional storage.

Hitachi Travelstar 80GN 80GB Drive Specs:
Taken from the Hitachi Travelstar 80GN product page:

  • Interface: ATA/6 (media transfer rate 350Mbit/sec max)
  • Capacity: Up to 80GB (currently)
    (reported formatted capacity is 74.53GB, due primarily to decimal (1K = 1000) vs binary (1K = 1024) numbering system.)
  • 4200 RPM, 8MB Cache (80GB model, upper 308KB used for firmware)
  • Fluid Bearings
  • AFC "Pixie Dust" technology for 40GB per disc (2 discs in the 80GB model)
  • Max Areal Density: 70Gbits/sq. inch
  • Operational Shock Rating up to 200Gs (2ms duration)
  • Non-Operational Shock Rating up to 800Gs (1ms duration)
  • Avg Latency: 7.1ms
  • Seek time: 12ms (avg), 2.5ms (track/track), 23ms (full stroke)
  • Power: +5VDC, 4.7W max peak (startup), 2.3W seek, 2.1W read, 2.2W write, Performance idle 1.85W, Active idle 0.95W, Sleep 0.1W.
  • Power Consumption Efficiency (watts/GB): 0.006
  • Height: 9.5mm, Weight: 99grams
  • Accoustics (A-Weighted Sound Power Bels):
    • Idle (typical/Max): 2.3/2.6
    • Operating (typical/Max): 2.7/2.9

The current datasheet PDF file didn't include any MTBF/Reliability ratings although the OEM specification PDF file linked on the Travelstar 80GN 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 (which Transintl.com now shows on their product page).

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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