Finally! A 1TB 7200rpm 2.5″ Drive

1tb_7200rpm_travelstar_bare

Last August I wrote a post and created a video showing the speed difference between USB 3 and Firewire 800 and while that was fine, what I realized was that the real bottleneck was the drive itself. I typically buy 1TB portable drives for on the road backup and emergency use. Until now all 1TB 2.5″ drives were only rated at 5400 rpm. In other words, slow! This means that the interfaces like Firewire 800, USB 3 and Thunderbolt really didn’t matter much if they all outpaced the speed of the drive itself. I bought a Buffalo Tech 1TB Thunderbolt/USB 3 portable drive. I couldn’t wait to see how “fast” this new drive would be? I was disappointed as it was no faster than my Firewire 800 or USB 3 drives. The problem wasn’t Thunderbolt or something that Buffalo Tech did wrong, the problem was that 1TB drives didn’t spin any faster than 5400 RPMs.

HGST shipped a 1TB 7200RPM Travelstar 2.5″ Drive!

1tb_7200rpm_travelstar

I noticed that I was seeing NEW Drives from OWC and G-Tech that stated that the drives were 1TB 7200 RPMs. This meant that there had to be a NEW 7200 RPM 1TB internal drive that I wasn’t aware of. I did some research and found that HGST (a Western Digital company) had in fact shipped a 1TB 7200RPM 2.5″ drive.

 

Upgrading my existing drives

Rather than run out and buy a couple new drives, I decided that there was nothing wrong with my enclosures. I figured I could just buy the new bare drive and swap out the slower drive in the enclosures that I already owned. Great idea, but it really depends on the enclosure. Some enclosures are really easy to open and others aren’t. Almost in ALL cases you’re going to void your warranty on the original drive/enclosure.

buffalo_tech_opened

It was clear that the Buffalo Ministation Thunderbolt/USB 3 enclosure was NEVER intended to be opened by the consumer. This is probably one of the hardest cases I’ve ever had to open. You pretty much have to “pry” it open to get to the drive and it won’t look pretty when you’re done. Not only is the case secured by internal tabs, but the internal drive tray is “glued” in place. That makes it even harder to open because the glue is fighting against you to. I was determined to swap this drive out and I wasn’t concerned about the cosmeticĀ appearanceĀ of the case once I was done. If you want it to still look pretty, don’t try to open this case. You will leave pry marks no matter what.

after_1tb_7200rpm_drive_install

On the other hand my Oyen Digital Firewire 800/USB 3 case opened up very easily by simply removing the screws on the bottom and sides of the drive. I swapped out the drive and it went back together just as easily.

 

The Speed Tests

1tb_7200rpm_drive_speedtest

1TB 7200 RPM Drive Speed Test via USB 3

As I suspected, the new 7200 RPM drive was MUCH FASTER than the 5400 RPM ones. There was still virtually no difference in speed between the Thunderbolt and USB 3 interfaces. This could be due to several factors, but in all cases both drive enclosures tested faster than they did with the slower drives.

1tb_5400rpm_drive_speedtest

1TB 5400 RPM Speed Test via USB 3

 

The Bottom Line

Until SSD drives go up in capacity and come way down in price, these traditional hard drives are still going to be useful for backups and transporting large amounts of data. Now that this drive is out I expect all the drive manufacturers to start making it available in their enclosures. If you’re not a do-it-yourself kinda person, then I would either wait for the Buffalo Minstation to get an upgrade or I’d go with this G-Technology 1TB G-DRIVE mini Portable USB 3, Firewire 800 Drive. If all you need is USB 3, then you’re better off just ordering the bare HGST 1TB 7200 RPM drive and low cost portable enclosure like this one.


  • Frank Dixon

    I put one of these in my 2011 MacBook Pro this weekend, replacing a 7200 RPM 750 GB WD drive. While there’s no speed difference, the extra 250 MB of space is nice. The other plus with these drives is that they’re 9.5 mm in height, so they’ll fit in thin notebooks.

  • Tiggmeister

    Terry, you should check out http://eshop.macsales.com/item/Seagate/ST750LX003/. It’s a 750GB hybrid drive that I installed into a MacBook Pro 2007 for a client. The start up time went from 2 minutes 20 seconds to 52 seconds. You don’t gain the extra 250 storage but it was a big speed boost.

    • Anthony Ojo

      Only if you use this as your main hard drive. As an external or extra hard drive there are no speed gains!

  • Anthony Ojo

    i just ordered one from B&H (was on sale for $75 this past week) and a data doubler. I already have an SSD as my main Hard drive, this one is for extra space in my MacBook Pro.