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In terms of read/write speeds, recoverability, and power consumption (e.g. my HDD crashes and I need to have a lab take it apart) - what are the major differences between a 5400 and 7200 RPM drive?

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The difference is 1800 RPM. – Shinrai Aug 11 '11 at 20:46
@shinrai Very funny.... – wizlog Aug 12 '11 at 20:36
seems like a shopping question – JM4 Sep 1 '11 at 16:27
Well... its not. – wizlog Sep 1 '11 at 21:45
up vote 11 down vote accepted

How long is a piece of string!

The best thing you can do is to take a look at and directly compare the hard drives you are interested in.

As for power consumption, you have to look at the individual specification of the drive in question - the manufactures websites usually list this.

The reason I can not give RW speed is simply there is more to it than that - typically 7200RPM drives are faster, but, you also have to consider platter density as for example, the new mobile 1TB 5400RPM drive can outperform some 7200RPM drives for speed, under some circumstances.

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Can you please provide a link for the "new mobile 1TB 5400RPM" – wizlog Aug 12 '11 at 20:35
You can Google it! One model was over a year ago -… ... There are a few now though... if you need anythign specifically, please say. – William Hilsum Aug 12 '11 at 21:01

There are several things to consider in addition to RPM.

RPM reduces what is called rotational latency. How long the hard drive takes to spin to the correct location.

Other issues to consider are the buffers on the drive (bigger is better), the disk to buffer speed (how fast can the reading take place), buffer to computer speed (SATA 3 is standard in many drives now).

As far as recoverability and power consumption, it depends on the drive not the RPM.

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Also the seek latency - the time required for the in-out movement of the heads. Rotational latency and seek latency are two separate things. Total latency = seek latency plus rotational. The drive can't start looking for the correct sector to come under the heads (rotational) until the heads are over the correct track (seeking). THEN you get the actual data transfer rate, from media to internal buffer or vice versa. The two latencies together usually dominate hard drive I/O request duration, unless the request is satisfied in the drive's cache or involves a very long transfer (megabytes). – Jamie Hanrahan Aug 18 '14 at 18:10

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