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MacBook Pro and BTO RPM options


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chucker
 
Join Date: May 2004
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2006-01-22, 12:21

Heya,

I'll try and keep this one simple. Just as with the last-generation PowerBooks, the MacBook Pro offers two different-speed hard drive configurations at 100 GB. I'm wondering (price aside) whether something speaks for the 5400 RPM version. Specifically, I'm curious whether heat and battery life play a role. A 7200 RPM obviously spins faster (duh), thus theoretically producing more heat and requiring more power. So, thing is, does this become a problem? Or is the drive, at the same time, significantly more efficient too? For general use, which should I pick?
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Wickers
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Join Date: May 2004
 
2006-01-22, 12:40

Does it become a problem? No, well not one that will stop the computer from working.
Will it effect battery life? Yes, of course it will, but not by a 'HUGE' amount.
Will it run hotter? Yes, more speed = more friction = more heat.

BUT!

Will it be worth it? Yes, if this would be your main computer, and not just a mobile workstation. You'll notice a speed difference with most disk activity heavy tasks (duh)... not by all that much, but with laptops even a small improvement is a good one.

Personally, if disc access is important for you for jobs like large media editing (video, sound, audio, etc..) and you need the mobility... just buy an external firewire drive. Better cost per megabyte, better seek time, more overall storage and much faster transfer rates.

no sig, how's that for being a rebel!
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chucker
 
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2006-01-22, 13:12

I don't do multimedia work (nothing in the professional space, anyhow), but I do definitely use it as a main machine. I already have an external drive, but are you sure that's going to be faster, not slower, especially now that the internal drives are Serial ATA?
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Wickers
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2006-01-22, 13:31


The bus interface does not make up for speed limitations of the drive itself. I mean, that's why ATA133 was kind of a joke when it came out, because drives were still having trouble pushing ATA66 to it's full ability. (let alone ATA100)...

SATA based HDDs were subject to the same issues when they first came out. While the bus speed was faster, the drives themselves rarely outperformed their PATA equals. These days are a bit different, with drives like the WD Raptor, but as a general rule of thumb you buy into SATA for standards compliance and upgradability... not blinding speed differences.

But it's up to you, I'd say if you are using it as your main computer, go for the upgrade. But even with the upgrade, you'll get much better performance out of an external firewire drive enclosure, and a new (modern) desktop sized hard drive.


no sig, how's that for being a rebel!
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Luca
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2006-01-22, 13:37

Don't necessarily take my word for it, but I have heard several things regarding laptop hard drives. First of all, supposedly there's a bigger difference moving from 4200 RPM to 5400 RPM than there is moving from 5400 RPM to 7200 RPM. Also, I've heard the increased heat and power consumption from 5400 RPM and 7200 RPM hard drives is negligible.

Furthermore, going for the highest option is usually kind of a rip off. It's generally true with all things (RAM, processors, hard drives, and so on), but when Apple's the one controlling the price, it's even worse. Right now, typical OEM prices for laptop hard drives are as follows:

80 GB 5400 RPM - $120
100 GB 5400 RPM - $150
120 GB 5400 RPM - $250
100 GB 7200 RPM - $280

On the $1999 model, Apple supplies an 80 GB hard drive and charges $100 to upgrade to 100 GB, even though the drive is only worth $30 more. The higher-end options are significantly more expensive (see the above statement about the highest-end things costing more than they're worth), but again, since Apple controls the price you end up paying $200 extra when they only cost $100-$150 extra in reality.

Apple rips you off on hard drives just as badly as they rip you off with RAM. Unfortunately, they also make it excruciatingly difficult to replace the hard drives in their machines, therefore forcing you to pay tons extra for hard drive upgrades (since you can't perform them yourself, at least without voiding your warranty).
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chucker
 
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2006-01-22, 13:48

Quote:
Originally Posted by Wickers

The bus interface does not make up for speed limitations of the drive itself. I mean, that's why ATA133 was kind of a joke when it came out, because drives were still having trouble pushing ATA66 to it's full ability. (let alone ATA100)...
SerialATA-based drives are definitely faster than ParallelATA ones, so I'm not sure where you're coming from. Yes, for long read/write operations, drives barely even get to 50 MB/s, but what's much more significant is access times and short operations.

Quote:
But even with the upgrade, you'll get much better performance out of an external firewire drive enclosure, and a new (modern) desktop sized hard drive.

So you're saying that even a 7200 RPM laptop drive will still be slower than a FireWire 400-based external solution? I have a hard time believing that, considering the hard drive enclosures I've seen benchmarked barely even reach 35 MB/s.
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chucker
 
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2006-01-22, 13:53

Quote:
Originally Posted by Luca
Don't necessarily take my word for it, but I have heard several things regarding laptop hard drives. First of all, supposedly there's a bigger difference moving from 4200 RPM to 5400 RPM than there is moving from 5400 RPM to 7200 RPM.
Yes, I'm aware of that.

Quote:
Also, I've heard the increased heat and power consumption from 5400 RPM and 7200 RPM hard drives is negligible.
That's good to know.

Quote:
Furthermore, going for the highest option is usually kind of a rip off. It's generally true with all things (RAM, processors, hard drives, and so on), but when Apple's the one controlling the price, it's even worse. [..] On the $1999 model, Apple supplies an 80 GB hard drive and charges $100 to upgrade to 100 GB, even though the drive is only worth $30 more. The higher-end options are significantly more expensive (see the above statement about the highest-end things costing more than they're worth), but again, since Apple controls the price you end up paying $200 extra when they only cost $100-$150 extra in reality.

Apple rips you off on hard drives just as badly as they rip you off with RAM.
I realize all that, but as you point out yourself, I don't have much of a choice:

Quote:
Unfortunately, they also make it excruciatingly difficult to replace the hard drives in their machines, therefore forcing you to pay tons extra for hard drive upgrades (since you can't perform them yourself, at least without voiding your warranty).
Exactly. If I could have it my way, I would buy the upper (higher-CPU) MacBook Pro, but with 512 MB RAM (or even none at all) just so I can buy my own RAM and save a lot of money. But no dice: the minimum is 1 GB.

If I could have it my way, I would also get a much smaller hard drive, say 60 GB (or even just 40), replace it immediately, and keep that only as an emergency option. But again, no dice.

It's really too bad that I cannot even make such basic component decisions on a $2500 laptop. Third-party probably isn't an option either since I would like education discounts, which at Apple aren't bad at all.
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AsLan^
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2006-01-22, 14:21

I dont think the 7200rpm is worth the extra $200, I dont value drive performance as much as other people.

According to some barefeats benchmark I just read the 7200rpm drives do perform quite a bit better than the 5400rpm ones and they found they all produce roughly the same heat. They declined to test battery performance.

Is hard drive performance really noticable ? I mean, everything should be running in RAM.
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chucker
 
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2006-01-22, 14:24

Quote:
Originally Posted by AsLan^
Is hard drive performance really noticable ? I mean, everything should be running in RAM.
While OS X is generally excellent in terms of caching as much as possible in RAM (much better than other systems I've experienced, including recently Ubuntu Linux, which felt sluggish yet used less than a quarter -- about 150 MB at most -- of my RAM), there are some areas where RAM simply won't help. Watching a movie. Using BitTorrent. Etc.
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Wickers
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2006-01-22, 14:33

Quote:
Originally Posted by chucker
SerialATA-based drives are definitely faster than ParallelATA ones, so I'm not sure where you're coming from. Yes, for long read/write operations, drives barely even get to 50 MB/s, but what's much more significant is access times and short operations.
We are talking about laptop drives here, not desktop, so I don't know where you are coming from...
Let me reference a TomsHardware article here:
http://www.tomshardware.com/2005/11/...ous/page6.html

Take a look at the two (SATA, and PATA) seagate 7200 rpm laptop drives there. They are pretty much equal overall.

no sig, how's that for being a rebel!
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chucker
 
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2006-01-22, 14:54

Quote:
Originally Posted by Wickers
But even with the upgrade, you'll get much better performance out of an external firewire drive enclosure, and a new (modern) desktop sized hard drive.
You're clearly suggesting here that an external drive would be faster than the internal laptop drive.

However, the Bare Feats test regarding 7200 RPM laptop drives makes that claim impossible, as some of the data rates shown there are beyond 50 MB/s, which is the theoretical limit of FireWire 400, which is all the MacBook Pro has. (Yes, I know about FireWire 800 ExpressCards. No, that's not an option.)

In practice, the difference will be even bigger. If you're lucky, the speeds you can get from an external FireWire-based solution are around 30-40 MB/s. Hardly anything above that.
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Wickers
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2006-01-22, 15:10

Quote:
Originally Posted by chucker
...
My how things have changed ever so quickly on the 2.5" front. . .

Yeah, the 100 gig laptop drives do push more r/w.
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chucker
 
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2006-01-22, 15:15

So I guess the general verdict is that I should bite the bullet and get the 7200 RPM option. Oh well… the FireWire drive will certainly be great for a SuperDuper-based cloning thing, not to mention an emergency boot partition.
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williamb
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Join Date: Jun 2005
 
2006-01-23, 11:45

Off-topic, but a question of mine. Is the SuperDrive in the new Macbook Pro a 4x speed dvd writer?

Can someone clarify this for me?
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chucker
 
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2006-01-23, 11:54

Yes. The last-generation PowerBook had a 8x speed dual-layer writer. The new generation has a 4x speed writer. The reason is the slightly thinner case: ultra-slim versions of 8x DL writers don't exist yet.
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williamb
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2006-01-23, 11:58

Thanks, Chucker. By the way, I grew up in Munich on an army base for about eight years. We moved to America when the Berlin wall came down.
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chucker
 
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2006-01-23, 12:08

Neat
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FFL
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2006-01-23, 12:52

Quote:
Originally Posted by chucker
So I guess the general verdict is that I should bite the bullet and get the 7200 RPM option. Oh well… the FireWire drive will certainly be great for a SuperDuper-based cloning thing, not to mention an emergency boot partition.
Pesonally, I'd get the 120 GB 5400, as I'd definitely find the extra 20 GB more valuable than the extra RPM.
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chucker
 
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2006-01-23, 12:59

You're making the decision even harder. My iBook originally had a 20 GB drive; it now has 60 GB, though that drive is dead so I'm working off 40 GB (which isn't enough).

However, I have an external drive, and even if I did have a lot of data beyond 100 GB, I probably wouldn't need to access it at very high speeds. I.e., it might be enough to just upgrade my external drive to, say, 300 GB, which gives me two full clones plus an emergency system plus extra room.
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Neuron Basher
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2006-01-23, 14:50

For what it's worth, and to make it even murkier, I didn't find either of the upgrades (100->120 or 5400->7200) compelling enough to spend the extra for the upgrade and stuck with the stock 100GB 5400RPM drive. Of course, depending on your usage patterns it may or may not be worthwhile for you, but for me it wasn't worth it.
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Luca
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2006-01-23, 15:43

Would you be willing to spend a reasonable price, though? I mean, if Apple charged $50 extra for the 100 GB drive, $100 extra for the 120 GB drive, and $150 extra for the 7200 RPM one (and those prices are at or slightly above the market values), would you consider the upgrades? Right now, Apple's doing what car dealerships do - they sell you the car and then try to make extra profit on fat-margin items (in this case, by selling RAM and hard drive upgrades for several times what they actually cost).
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chucker
 
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2006-01-23, 16:00

Like I said, price is not my main concern. My main concern is to get the best machine I possibly can, where best means powerful, quiet, cool (though I'll probably be getting an iLap for it again) and with reasonably long battery life (4 hours or more at normal use). So the question is whether 5400 RPM -> 7200 RPM adds more performance than it subtracts quietness, coolness and low energy use.
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Neuron Basher
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2006-01-23, 16:12

In that case, the answer is yes, the 7200 RPM drive will add more than it will detract. Previous experience says that the increased heat, noise, and power consumption by going to 7200 RPM are nearly non-existent. If price is no object and you're after pure performance, get the 7200 RPM drive. It might give you a few percent better overall performance with next to no downside.
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Franz Josef
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2006-01-23, 17:10

Quote:
Originally Posted by chucker
So the question is whether 5400 RPM -> 7200 RPM adds more performance than it subtracts quietness, coolness and low energy use.
5,400 rpm 80 GB > 7,200 rpm 100 GB in a 12" PB : never quantified the performance gain but visibly snappier on boot up and launching (multiple) apps. No difference in temperature nor noise.
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Luca
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2006-01-23, 17:39

I will also vouch for hard drive performance being very important to overall performance. A while back I had a Power Mac G4 and I actually noticed an improvement moving from a 7200 RPM 2MB cache hard drive to a 7200 RPM 8MB cache hard drive (both of the same capacity and made by the same company too). If there's a noticeable difference there, then I'm sure it helps a lot to have a fast hard drive in a laptop.

Actually, I'll be going laptop HD shopping reasonably soon (for a TiBook, so I can replace the drive myself) and I'll probably go with either an 80 GB 5400 RPM or a 60 GB 7200 RPM, assuming the price isn't too high for the latter.
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Nautical
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2006-01-24, 03:45

Also keep in mind that moving from the 5400 rpm 100 Gb to the 5400 rpm 120 Gb will bring with it performance increases as well. This comes from the fact that the date is more densely packed on the 120 Gb version and that means that although it has the same rotational speed, it still covers more data per second. In fact, the performance difference between the 100 Gb 7200 rpm and the 120 Gb 5400 rpm might be approaching negligable because of this, although this is speculation and nothing I have verified by testing.
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chucker
 
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2006-01-24, 03:50

Interesting. Anyone have performance comparisons between the two?
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Ira Siegel
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2006-01-24, 13:11

Quote:
Originally Posted by Nautical
Also keep in mind that moving from the 5400 rpm 100 Gb to the 5400 rpm 120 Gb will bring with it performance increases as well. This comes from the fact that the date is more densely packed on the 120 Gb version and that means that although it has the same rotational speed, it still covers more data per second. In fact, the performance difference between the 100 Gb 7200 rpm and the 120 Gb 5400 rpm might be approaching negligable because of this, although this is speculation and nothing I have verified by testing.
Quote:
Originally Posted by chucker
Interesting. Anyone have performance comparisons between the two?
My analysis of the data at the barefeats link cited above (here for convenience:http://www.barefeats.com/hard61.html) shows that the speed difference between 5400 rpm and 7200 rpm overcomes the density difference between 60 Gb and 100 Gb. That is, a 7200 rpm 60 GB HDD performs faster than a 5400 rpm 100 GB HDD.
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Zorn
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2006-01-24, 13:37

I remember reading a while back, when the 7200RPM notebook drives were first coming out, that they are actually more power efficient than the 4200/5400 RPM ones, and get better battery life. Anyone back me up on this?
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