I am getting a laptop (Gigabyte u2442f) with two drives: a 250 GB SSD I'll use for the filesystem root, and a 750 GB HDD I'll use for home/.

For the HDD, I have a choice between 5400 RPM and 7200 RPM. Which should I choose?

The price difference is only ~$20, so that's not an issue for me. I'm mostly concerned with whether the 7200 is noticeably noisier or more power-hungry, since this laptop is not known for its battery life to begin with. If the speed win is negligible when there's already an SSD, then I would go for the 5400 if it's noticeably quieter or more efficient.

Finally, if I already have an SSD in the laptop, would it be pointless to get a "hybrid" HDD with on-board SSD cache? Or would that still make things speedier?


Speed really depends on the drive - there are some 5400 RPM drives which will outperform 7200 RPM drives, and for a "normal workload" on a laptop I'd be inclined to go for the 5400 rpm drive, particularly as you have an SSD - certainly 5400 RPM drives are generally markedly more efficient then 7200 RPM drives, and probably quieter to.

A discussion on performance can be found at www.tomshardware.

Another useful (but old) link is here which shows - there is not a lot of difference in performance between 7200 and good 5400 rpm drives, but 5400 DRPM drives use "about" 33% less power then 7200 RPM drives.

I have not had the luxury of a hybrid drive, but I'd imagine it will give you a performance boost (and reduce power) for the regular drive - although if you are creative you can use some of the SSD and a regular drive to similar effect - although I'd suggest against it generally. [ MDAdmin has a write-mostly option if you partition your drives appropriately, and I've done something a bit similar with DRBD - you can see my bog article here. Even though it is only tangenially relevant it does show that you can get the read speeds without using a hybrid - when I did my enquiries, hybrid drives only sped up reads. For a few dollars more though, I'd probably choose a hybrid - certainly I believe a hybrid will outperform a 7200 vs 5400 for reads.

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