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are there any performance issues associated with a 5400 rpm hard drive?

Posted on 2014-03-28
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Last Modified: 2014-03-28
Hello and Good Morning Everyone,

           Recently, I have purchased an Acer Aspire laptop (Model V3-731-4473) with many nice features.  There is one component, namely the hard drive, that I do have a question about.  The hard drive's speed is 5400 rpm which I am wondering if it might be a bit too slow when carrying out certain operations such a backing up data to a DVD burner.  The unit itself does comes with an integrated burner which records CD +/- R's at 24x, DVD +/- R's at 8x, and DVD +/-R DL at 6x.  It has a rewrite speed of 16x for CD's, 6x for DVD-RW, and 8x for DVD+RW.  With this being said, I am under the impression the hard drive should be fast enough to carry out data backup operations to recordable media such as CD-R's and DVD-R's.

             I have not actually started using this laptop yet, so, I do not have anything personally to comment on regarding its performance.  At this point, I am merely attempting to gain information so I know what to expect from it.  

            Thanks in advance for any feedback given to my question.  I will look forward to reading what everybody has to say regarding performance issues, if any, that are associated with 5400 rpm hard drives.

              George
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Question by:GMartin
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Tony Giangreco earned 200 total points
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Yes, that hard drive should be able to feed data to a DVD/CD burner without any problems. Additional apps that may slow it down are apps that are running in the background while the DVD is being burned.

When burning a DVD or CD, I suggest not to run any other app simultaneously, just let the burn process complete before doing anything else.

Yes, that is the old standard speed for hard drives. The next step up for a standard laptop is a 7200 RPM or a Solid State drive.

Hope this helps!
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by:Carl Bohman
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While the rotational speed is a contributing factor, the more important figures would be the data throughput speeds or transfer rates.  So far as I know, even "slower" hard drives have a significantly faster transfer rate than the fastest CD/DVD drive.

Usually when I've had issues with creating CDs or DVDs it was due to other processes on the system slowing things down, faulty blank media, or issues with the CD/DVD drive (or software driving it).  Insufficient RAM can also play a role on older systems (due to data caching that can interrupt the system at a bad time), however most (if not all) modern systems should be able to keep up with a CD/DVD drive just fine.
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by:GMartin
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Hello Everyone,

           Thanks so much for the quick replies given here.  I apologize for omitting this earlier, but, the Acer Aspire laptop has 6 GB of RAM and upgradable to 8 GB.  I believe 6 GB of RAM should be sufficient.  Does everyone else agree on that point?

            George
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by:Tony Giangreco
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Yes, 6 gig of ram should be ok.
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by:GMartin
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Hello

          I hope my additional followup question does not derail too much from my original question.  But, I am wondering why solid state hard drives come much more highly recommended in terms of performance as compared to 5400 and 7200 rmp drives.   Do they have an interface which is entirely different from the standard IDE and SATA interfaces?

          Thanks

         George
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by:GMartin
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Hello

          sorry about the typo.... I meant to say rpm

          George
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by:Tony Giangreco
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Solid State is normally faster allowing Windows to read and write the data faster.  Since there are no moving parts in a solid state hard drive, there is less chance of mechanical failure.

Desktop and Laptop Solid State hard drives use the standard SATA interface, just like the current 5400 & 7200 RPM drives do.

Solid State has been the latest improvement in hard drives to filter down to consumers in a long time.
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by:rindi
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The hard-disk's speed is absolutely irrelevant when burning to CD's/DVD's. Even if it were an issue, the burning utility and the burner itself automatically compensates for any throughput issues you would have. It isn't like when CD burners first came out...

But good practice is always to select the lowest possible burning speed you can select in your utility (if you can't change the speed then get another utility). The reason has nothing to do with the through-put, but rather that the burnt CD's and DVD's can be read more reliably and on more different drives, and they also tend to last longer.

Solid state drives don't have any moving parts, so they aren't limited by RPM's, as the data can be accessed more directly. That makes them much faster than a conventional HD. The interface is SATA, so that is the same as for conventional disks. You can directly replace a conventional laptop disk with an SSD. But again, you wouldn't need an SSD for burning to DVD's, the advantages you get are others, for example the PC boots much faster, and programs start faster. But they are still relatively expensive and have lower capacities.
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by:garycase
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Hi George,

First, a 5400rpm drive in a laptop is fairly standard.   As already noted, it has plenty of performance to support DVD burning, although I agree that it's best to not do other tasks during a burn, and it's also a good practice to not burn DVDs any faster than 8x.   If you follow those "rules", you'll never have a problem.

As I think you know, accessing a hard drive involves three basic actions:  (a) moving the head to the correct cylinder (the time to do this is the "seek time");  (b) waiting for the drive to rotate so the data you want is under the read/write head (the time here is "rotational latency"); and (c) actually transferring the data (the speed at which this occurs is the "sustained data rate").

The combination of (a) and (b) is called the "access time".     Due to the design of hard drive seek mechanisms, drives that rotate faster also have quicker seek times; and of course since they're rotating faster they also have better rotational latency times and, in general, faster sustained data rates (although this last parameter is not only a function of the rotation rate, but also of the areal density of the platter -- so some 5400 rpm units actually have better sustained data rates than some 7200 rpm units).

One other tidbit that's important:  The interface (SATA-II, SATA-III) is capable of transferring at speeds FAR above the sustained data rate ... but transfers at "interface rate" only happen between the PC and the drive's buffer (which is simply a small amount of memory on the drive's circuit board) ... a VERY tiny percentage of I/O to the drive.

So why is an SSD such an improvement?    Simple:   Since there are no moving parts on an SSD, the "seek time" and "latency" are both very close to zero.  Not actually zero ... it does take a few microseconds for the electronics to stabilize for any given access, but typically the total access time is a few microseconds, as opposed to the 14-18 milliseconds for a typical laptops drive ... so it's thousands of times faster !!   In addition, most SSDs can saturate a SATA-II connection, and come close to saturating a SATA-III connection ... so the actual data transfers are also much faster (a modern, high density rotating drive can sustain ~ 100MB/s, while an SSD can typically do 3-5 times that).

Bottom line:  Many transfers to/from SSDs are DONE before they would have even started with a rotating drive :-)

Remember, however, that once you hit the "fast enough" point, there's no advantage of further speed.    If your concern is just about the ability to burn DVDs, there's no advantage of an SSD -- the drive you have is fast enough and will do it just as reliably as an SSD would.    But with an SSD the laptop would boot faster, would "feel" much faster, since programs would load very quickly, etc.    It won't make the actual processing any faster; and won't make your internet connection any faster; but it will definitely perform better.

Personally, I'd just use the laptop as it is -- at least initially.   The biggest advantage of an SSD is quicker boot times ... but you pay a cost for this in the much higher cost/GB of the SSD.    For most uses, just being a bit patient when you turn on the machine is the only real tradeoff -- quicker program loads are nice, but, for example,  what difference does it make if Word loads in 1 second or 3 seconds?
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by:garycase
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... by the way, you can get the quicker boot times of an SSD without compromising on the drive's capacity or spending as much as a large SSD would cost you by buying a hybrid drive, such as this:   http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16820168093

These have small (8GB in this case) SSD components built-in to the hard drive that are used to cache frequently read sectors, and provide SSD-like performance for booting and loading your frequently-used programs, while still having a "real" hard drive for storing your data on.   Actually this is a VERY good choice for a laptop drive if you decide you want to "pep up" your laptop a bit.
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by:rindi
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Another advantage of SSD's over conventional disks that hasn't been mentioned yet is that since they don't have moving parts that need motors, they are much more energy efficient and so require much less power. You should be able to run a laptop on the battery for a longer period when it runs on an SSD compared to a mechanical disk.
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by:Tony Giangreco
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Hi George,

have we answered your questions?
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by:GMartin
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Hello and Good Evening Everyone,

              I want to sincerely thank each person for their input given to my question.  I found each answer to be rich in detail and clarification.  The tips given for backing up information to a DVD +/- R were easy to follow and certainly made much sense.  I also appreciate the clarification of the advantages of Solid State Hard Drives over the more conventional SATA hard drives.  I certainly did learn much from the feedback given to this followup inquiry.  

              Once again, many thanks everyone for a great job done here.  To give everyone an idea of how much I enjoyed this post, I read and re-read each reply several times.  It seems like each time I read a reply, I was gaining greater insights that I had never had before.   What I am getting at is that this was a great learning experience here for me thanks to everyone's shared insights and knowledge.  In my opinion, this is one of many things which keeps the spirit of EE ongoing and challenging.  

               Good night everyone and thanks again : - )

                George
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