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# External Hard Drive speeds

Posted on 2006-04-18
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Can someone explain to me the extreme difference in speed between this drive

and this one.

I bought the first one seeing the USB 2.0 and then realized its transfer rate is only 60 MB/s. That is just poking slow compared to the second drive which uses USB 2.0 to its fullest bandwidth. Certainly the 5400 RPM doesn't make all the difference...?

Anyway, I got an RMA for the first drive and will buy another one with more care, but I certainly am curious why the speed differential between two USB 2.0 external hard drives. I just can't believe hard drive speed is the reason, but perhaps I am wrong. But how could I be wrong about that. Laptops still use 5400 RPM drives. Not so fast anymore but not 60 MB/s either...
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Question by:thinkwelldesigns

LVL 69

Assisted Solution

You read the specification wrong - they are both USB 2.0, which means they have a maximum transfer rate of 480 megaBITS/sec, or 60 megaBYTES/sec.  MB = megabytes, megabits = Mbps, and 8Mbps = 1MB/sec.  Laptops use 5400 rpm drives because they use less power and generate less heat.
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LVL 32

Accepted Solution

The first drive is 60MB/s, that's megaBYTES/sec.  Since USB2.0 is only 480Mb/s (bits/sec) the speeds are the SAME.

There is a difference in speed between 5400 and 7200 rpm drives but on a USB link the difference in performance will be minor.
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LVL 32

Expert Comment

Yea, like he said....
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LVL 9

Author Comment

I assumed that was why laptop drives were still 5400 RPM. Mine still gets hot enough ;-)

Thanks for the explanation on the MB/s versus Mb/s. Makes it all clear now. I'll split points since you both posted at the same time and had the same answer.
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LVL 32

Expert Comment

Many laptop drives (in my experience MOST) are 5400 due to lower noise and power requirements as well as lower cost and heat dissipation.

Some newer laptops are now featuring 7200 rpm drives but from my viewpoint these are limited to some higher-end models that have the power and heat dissipation "budget" to support the faster/hotter drives.
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