5101 kendrickAlmost every netbook on the market today that has a hard drive ships with a 5400rpm HDD. A few have slower 4200rpm hard drives. And a very few have faster 7200rpm disks. Probably the most highly visible netbook to include a 7200rpm hard drive is the HP Mini 5101, because it ships standard with that feature. If you’re willing to shell out some extra money you can also upgrade to a high performance solid state disk.

I’ve only spent a few minutes with the HP Mini 5101, so I didn’t really have a chance to kick the tires and see what kind of difference the speedier hard drive makes. But James Kendrick at jkOnTheRun has been using one for a few weeks, and he notes that the 7200rpm hard drive appears to make a pretty big difference in everyday performance.

We’re not talking benchmarks here. What we’re talking about is the way the netbook feels. And James says that’s because most netbooks ship with the same stats. The HP has an Intel Atom N280 CPU, which is a bit faster than the N270 used in many netbooks, but that doesn’t make it unique. The hard drive really does set it apart though, and James says applications just seem a bit more responsive because of it.

Do you have any experience with a 7200rpm HDD-equipped netbook? Let us know in the comments.

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20 replies on “Who knew? Faster hard drive = faster netbook”

  1. Guys you can now have a 750GB 7200RPM hard drive in your netbook, provided it supports 2.5″ 2-platter drives, which the Asus EEE 1000 series does I belive.
    You also have the choice of a 1000GB 5400RPM 2-platter drive now. Pretty epic for such a tiny computer. Suprised they use 2.5″ drives.

    1. The 1000x models used standard 2.5″ hard drives, but the “1000” was a Mini PCIe SSD model.  In fact the “H” in the model name meant it had a hard drive.

      The even smaller 900HA/HD models also used standard hard drive as well as a few other early netbooks from other companies.  But eventually hard drives became the standard for netbooks and very few still use Mini PCIe type SSDs anymore.

      Though mSATA is a growing standard that may bring them back, for at least optional extra drives.  While you’ll see them more often in tablets that put more a premium on space and weight savings.

      1. Cool thanks for the info. Yeah I was surprised to learn that they take 2.5″ SATA drives not 1.8″ ZIF PATA interfaced ones.

  2. Old article now, but in reading it one thing came to mind about sticking a high performance SSD in a netbook… SATA interface!!! Sure SSDs will blow past a mechanical drive, but many netbooks – including my own HP Mini 110 – are only packing SATA I connections, which will bottleneck some faster SSDs. Just my 2c

  3. hi there my netbooks are runing solid state flash drives or ssd’s from hp there fast soo i want to try comparing the ssd netbooks with netbooks with voloci-raptors in a netbook i have no idear of a 10,000 rpm hard drive in a netbook

  4. hi there i want to know can a 10,000 rpm voloci-rapter or a 15,000 rpm cheeta hdd fit inside a netbook

  5. Having just replaced the hard drive in my aspire one A150 I can say that yes, it is a bit faster. The drive I pulled out of my netbook was the Toshiba 160gb, and I replaced it with a Seagate Momentus 250gb 7,400 rpm model. Seagate says the drive only uses 0.5% more power than a 5400 which appears to translate into about 10 – 15 minutes less battery life (over a full charge). In my case the Seagate seems to actually run cooler, and is for sure quieter than the Toshiba HD was. I suspect results vary depending on what drive your replacing, and what you’re replacing it with. Overall I’d say if your thinking about the upgrade, do ram first.. then yes, Faster HD = Faster (slightly) Netbook.

  6. I’m considering upgrading my MSI Wind, which came with a 60Gb 5400 drive to a larger drive (maybe 320Gb). Power consumption/battery life is a big consideration. I would not go with a 7200 RPM drive unless the additional power consumed was small. An SSD would be nice, but not worth the cost. Maybe my next netbook will have an SSD when the prices are lower.

  7. Faster hard drive = more expensive netbook.
    One must judge for (him|her)self.

  8. I have an OCZ Vertex on my Aspire One and it boots way faster than my Extreme Quad Core desktop (3 ghz).

  9. I have it on my laptop and it is somewhat noticeable on it. Maybe its because the laptop is already so powerful that its fast either way. Core 2 duo with 3 mb of L2 cache is a pretty good processor and with the graphics card it makes a great gaming computer.

  10. O man, this just wants me even more to go out and purchase Ocz Vertex 30GB SSD….it’s just soo expensive 🙁

  11. I upgraded the 5400rpm drive in my Lenovo S10 with a 7200rpm drive a couple months ago and I noticed an improvement. Now I’m considering picking up a SSD if I can find one that is priced right.

  12. It’s not that expensive to track down a 7200 RPM drive to drop in and test, but my understanding has always been that they use a noticeable amount of extra power.

    I went and tried to find data on the topic, and here’s what I could find:

    Basically, the power consumption variance based on model exceeds any performance differences based on HDD rotation speed.

    1. So installing a 7200 RPM drive might also take a toll on the battery life?
      I’m asking because I’m still considering a netbook purchase and speed is important but not if it takes a noticeable toll on battery life.

      1. As best as I can tell, if you want to be sure, you need to find power draw specs or benchmarks on the drive before you buy. If the vendor is touting the battery life of a netbook, presumably they’ve sought out a low-power drive.

    2. I have a wd scorpio black 320gb, and the power consumption on my 1000h changed from 4 hours to 3:50h. for 10 minutes, I’ll sacrifice the slow hard drive 😉

  13. Or… you install a fast SSD. Not the ones that first-gen netbooks shipped with, but a current RunCore or similar model. Such SSD’s will utterly trash any traditional hard drive – even 10K and 15K rpm models.

    I have an Eee 901 and a MacBook Pro with a 7200rpm hard drive. In anything not CPU-bound, the Eee actually outperforms the MacBook Pro by a large margin. It boots much faster, launches applications faster, and is more responsive – all of this while running on an Atom 1.6Ghz CPU. The difference is the fast SSD vs the 7200rpm hard drive (obviously, my next MacBook Pro will have an SSD, even though it means it will cost an arm and a leg).

    In the high-end server storage market, we’re also seeing SSD’s start to trickle in, although when you’re talking hundreds of terabytes, the cost difference keeps them rare – for now.

    I/O is, and always has been, the #1 bottleneck in any computer. It makes sense that optimizing it will have the greatest impact. Indirectly, that’s why having a lot of memory speeds up most computers – they can cache a lot of data in RAM rather than go back to the relatively slow disk to get it.

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