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You are here: MacNN Forums > Hardware - Troubleshooting and Discussion > Mac Notebooks > Installed 7200rpm Seagate in MacBook - some quick benchmarks

Installed 7200rpm Seagate in MacBook - some quick benchmarks
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michaelb
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Jun 1, 2006, 09:50 PM
 
For my new MacBook I wanted to get the best performance so I installed both 2GB RAM and a Seagate Momentus 7200rpm 100GB drive in the machine as soon as I received it.

However, so that I would have something to compare, I first took 20 mins to do some simple time tests on the stock Apple supplied Toshiba 5400rpm drive before swapping it, then the same tests on the Seagate.

I know sites like BareFeats.com have very extensive benchmarks on hard drive performance, however, I wanted some easier to grasp, more in-your-face real world tests that could easily be done on other people's computers.

I chose some tests that were easy to duplicate and didn't rely on installing anything else, so that they would be easy for anyone to duplicate (and also because I wanted to get my new MacBook set up ASAP).

Test descriptions:

Before testing, the system was restarted a few times to make sure all admin work on a new install had been completed and that Spotlight wasn't indexing anything. Each test was done twice using a stopwatch then averaging the results.



1. Boot from power off: timing started straight after pressing the power button and finished when the Dock popped up onto the screen. Most of this time is spent in the gray Apple / spinning disc screen, which probably involves a fixed amount of time where the RAM is checked etc. However, it does speed up with a faster drive, so I thought it was useful.

2. Restart: timing started from clicking the "Are you sure you want to restart?" dialog button until the Dock popped up again. No other applications than the Finder were running. This takes longer than a boot from power off as the system has to be shut down first.

3. Duplicate GarageBand Instrument Library: this folder is located at /Library/Application Support/GarageBand/Instrument Library. It consists of over 3600 files totaling 1.51GB. I first dragged a copy out to the Desktop. The test consisted duplicating this folder using the Finder's Duplicate command (Command-D).

(These sorts of tests really puts the hard drive to work as it both has to read a chunk, move to an empty space on the drive, write the chunk, move back, read, etc. It thus tests both throughput and seek time.)

4. Duplicate Office 2004 Test Drive. This is a folder most people have installed in their Applications folder when buying a new Mac.

Results:

[FONT="Courier New"]
...............................5400rpm Toshiba..........7200rpm Seagate

1. Boot from power off...........24.2 secs................18.5 secs

2. Restart from Finder...........31.4 secs................24.4 secs

3. Duplicate GarageBand..........3:15 mins................1:38 mins
Instrument Library

4. Duplicate Office 2004.........39.3 secs................20.5 secs
Test Drive
[/FONT]

Comments:

Tests 3 & 4 are the more important tests. They show the 7200rpm performing read/write operations in almost half the time as the stock 5400rpm drive. This sort of performance should really help with video editing and software compiling, where large amounts of hard drive data are shuffled around.

The Seagate 7200rpm drive is a little noisier, but nothing too obtrusive. Much quieter than a fan. It has more vibration detectable under the palm rest, though this is about the same as what is felt from holding an iPod when it is spinning up to show a video, and is something you quickly get used to.

I didn't keep the 5400rpm drive in long enough to test battery performance. The power draw specs of the Seagate suggest it draws less than 10% more power, so I would expect the effect on the battery to be similar.

Other comments are that software package installs have been lightning fast, the blue progress bar during startup is literally a case of blink and you'll miss it, and apps bounce into existence in a pleasing way. The MacBook feels the disk access is less of a bottleneck than it otherwise would be (although the drive is always the weakest part of any computer's performance).

Hope this is useful to someone! Maybe post your own timmes to compare. (I've also got a 10,000rpm Raptor in my G5 to blow it out of the water in case the MacBook ever feels like boasting!)
     
greenamp
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Jun 1, 2006, 10:03 PM
 
     
Macola
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Jun 1, 2006, 10:13 PM
 
Any comparison of temperature? I was reluctant to put a 7200 rpm drive in my MacBook because it's pretty warm already, but maybe it's not an issue.
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Eug Wanker
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Jun 1, 2006, 10:16 PM
 
Was the Seagate a fresher install than the Toshiba? I don't doubt that the Seagate is faster, but if the Seagate was a pristine install and the Toshiba wasn't, then it might make a difference in the speeds.

I may consider upgrading when 120 or 160 GB 7200 rpm 8 MB drives are available.
     
michaelb  (op)
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Jun 1, 2006, 11:04 PM
 
Originally Posted by Macola
Any comparison of temperature? I was reluctant to put a 7200 rpm drive in my MacBook because it's pretty warm already, but maybe it's not an issue.
I haven't found heat a problem. Simple physics suggests that if something is consuming less than 10% more energy, the amount of extra heat it can produce is limited.

I've been running CoreDuoTemp from time to time. Most of the time while doing basic operations like web surfing the MacBook is in the 40°-50°C range, during more intensive processing it goes to 60-70°C. I haven't seen it much higher than that.
     
michaelb  (op)
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Jun 1, 2006, 11:14 PM
 
Originally Posted by Eug Wanker
Was the Seagate a fresher install than the Toshiba? I don't doubt that the Seagate is faster, but if the Seagate was a pristine install and the Toshiba wasn't, then it might make a difference in the speeds.

I may consider upgrading when 120 or 160 GB 7200 rpm 8 MB drives are available.
The stock Toshiba had Apple's default Mac OS X install on it, fresh out of the box, with no updates applied or any software installed apart from the bundled ones that Apple pre-installed (iPhoto, GarageBand, etc). I hadn't done anything more than enter a user name so it would let me get to the Finder. The Trash hadn't been emptied so there shouldn't have been too much fragmentation.

The installed Seagate had a new Mac OS X install, and during the time I made the tests had had no updates applied or any software installed. The two systems should have been approximately equivalent, but we'd be able to confirm that if any other MacBook owner's post their times / drive models.

HIgher capacity 7200rpm drives are indeed coming. There is already a 120GB version but it is 12mm and the MacBook needs < 9.5 mm to fit into its cavity.
     
jreniew
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Jun 2, 2006, 12:32 PM
 
nice that is a significant difference!
I hav been wanting to get that same drive...! how much did you pay for it?
     
Tomchu
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Jun 2, 2006, 02:07 PM
 
The thing to remember is that transfer rates (both r and w) are not equal all throughout the hard drive. They're the fastest at the beginning of the drive, and the slowest at the end -- and usually the difference is considerable.

The 5400 RPM drive was filled to the brim with all of Apple's software -- that means your "working area" was in the latter part of the drive, putting it at a disadvantage. The tests with the 7200 RPM drive were done in an area that is about 10 GB shifted over, giving the 7200 RPM drive an advantage.
     
sieb
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Jun 2, 2006, 02:54 PM
 
Good review, I would like to see these compared to an external FW drive (clone and boot off it) to see if a laptop drive has any difference compared to a full 3.5 drive.
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anamexis
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Jun 2, 2006, 02:55 PM
 
Has there been any noticable difference in battery life?
     
JasonA
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Jun 2, 2006, 03:20 PM
 
Nice comparison! You're much more methodical than I. I popped a Hitachi 100gb 7200 rpm drive in my Macbook last night, but I did no tests before or after.
     
Hal06
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Jun 2, 2006, 05:37 PM
 
Seagate 'Momentus', coolest hard disk name ever.
     
snoopy199
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Jun 2, 2006, 05:55 PM
 
Thanks for the benchmarks,
how's the temps with the 7200 drive? Notice a marked increase?
     
powerbook867
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Jun 2, 2006, 06:16 PM
 
man, you are making me want to buy one of those bad boys...
Joe
     
greenamp
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Jun 2, 2006, 06:51 PM
 
me too.
     
Porco
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Jun 2, 2006, 11:39 PM
 
I actually had a quick question... what tool did u use to remove the hard drive cover?
     
michaelb  (op)
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Jun 3, 2006, 08:44 AM
 
Originally Posted by Tomchu
The thing to remember is that transfer rates (both r and w) are not equal all throughout the hard drive. They're the fastest at the beginning of the drive, and the slowest at the end -- and usually the difference is considerable.

The 5400 RPM drive was filled to the brim with all of Apple's software -- that means your "working area" was in the latter part of the drive, putting it at a disadvantage. The tests with the 7200 RPM drive were done in an area that is about 10 GB shifted over, giving the 7200 RPM drive an advantage.
Point taken, but who says I didn't install the 10GB of Apple crap?

I realize my original post implied I just installed Mac OS X and nothing else, but I did actually install most of iLife (after all, what is a Mac without iLife). I did leave out a lot of printer drivers and languages, but did select some options like X11, so there wouldn't have been that much difference in size between Apple's out-of-the-box and my new drive OS X installs.

Anyway, now I've had the machine going for a few days, I've done all sorts of software installs, plus a 15GB Boot Camp partition with Windows XP installed, plus Parallels with a few virtual machines each a couple of GB in size, so by now the drive has a lot occupying it, and probably a bit of fragmentation too.

So I've just redone the "duplicate Garageband Instrument Library" test and it took 1:41 compared to the "pristine condition" test of 1:38. Still looking good!
     
michaelb  (op)
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Jun 3, 2006, 08:54 AM
 
Other questions answered:

1. Haven't noticed any temperature problems at all. Machine doesn't even get warm in normal OS X use. Warms up slightly when using Parallels for extended periods (have just installed Ubuntu 6.06 which had the CD drive spinning for quite a while as well).

2. Battery life is good. Very pleased with the MacBook's life, easily gives me a stop-start working day's worth of juice. Doesn't seem affected at all by the 7200 drive.

3. I bought the Seagate from Other World Computing: http://eshop.macsales.com/item/Seagate/ST910021AS/ (That page also has complete specs.)

4. Cost: $210.

(Highly recommend OWC, even if you do find it cheaper, their service is excellent.)

5. To remove the 4 screws from the drive "cage" (a sheet of aluminum which lets the drive slide snugly into the MacBook's drive cavity), you need a Torx T7 driver. (These are often sold in "mobile phone opening kits" in electronics stores.)

Hope this helps!
     
snoopy199
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Jun 3, 2006, 09:06 AM
 
Thanks for the update

I'm pleased to hear that heat is not an issue. These macbooks tend to run hot and I don't need to add fuel to the fire

In preperation to installing a 7200rpm drive (and to try to cool it further) I reapplied the artic silver on my mb so its ready to go
     
Toyin
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Jun 3, 2006, 11:03 AM
 
I'm sure that the Seagate is faster (I did the same swap on my 15" Powerbook and the speed increase was noticeable) but the numbers may be a bit misleading

I just got my wife's 2ghz Macbook and the original install from Apple was different then the install done using the restore DVDs. On my initial boot there were at least 10 software updates to perform. After I zeroed the drive and re-installed OS-X there were only 3 updates.

I've heard this elsewhere, that 10.4.6 on the restore DVDs contain updates specifically for the Macbook. This might have been part of your performance increase.

By the way, compared to my 15"PB this thing screams
( Last edited by Toyin; Jun 3, 2006 at 07:11 PM. )
-Toyin
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JasonA
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Jun 3, 2006, 04:57 PM
 
Are there any speed comparisons between the Hitachi 100gb 7200rpm drive and the Seagate? I prefer Seagate generally, but I got the Hitachi because it was only $160 shipped from Buy.com. I'm quite happy with it, but wondered if there was any difference between the two.
     
yoyoman
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Jun 4, 2006, 06:04 AM
 
Is that the fastest hd out. What about the hybrid hd's comming out. Are there 10k rpm laptop hd's.. Is sata faster than ata for laptops.
     
snoopy199
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Jun 4, 2006, 07:31 AM
 
SATA transfers data about 150 megabytes a second
ATA-7 transfers 133 megabytes per second

I think the hybrid drives are too new to see widespred use in mainstream computers - for the time being. As for 10k rpm drives. While I want to install a 7200rpm drive, I question the heat and power of such a drive. Macbooks and Macbook pros run hot, I'd be concerned that such a drive may push it over the edge.
     
Eug Wanker
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Jun 4, 2006, 08:44 AM
 
Just to be clear, the limiting factor for laptop hard drive speed is not the interface. It's the drive itself.
     
Porco
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Jun 4, 2006, 11:21 AM
 
Out of curiosity... I installed the Hitachi version of the drive. It seems noisier to me than the original 5400. It has a tendency to "rattle" for the minimum access. Is this abnormal? Also, I did a transfer from another machine and then deleted a number of items I wouldn't need. Would it have been better for data integrity to just do a basic install?
     
   
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