Hard Disk technology keeps getting better and better; with the introduction of SATA we have seen hard disk speeds increase, and Native Command Queuing has also reduced the time it takes for hard disks to recover data on a drive when it's located at different points across the physical disk. Additionally, the adoption of perpendicular recording methods allow for companies to increase the size of drives without having to add extra platters.
While all of these technologies have been great for the desktop hard drives, notebook hard disk drives benefit from this the most. Notebooks have a finite amount of space, especially thin and light models. Notebook drives are generally 2.5" in size making them extremely limited in how many platters the drive can have as well as the density. Not only does the size matter, but the speed also needs to be as high as possible. Notebooks are generally considered to be slower then their desktop counterparts simply because the logistics of getting the same power out of the CPU, GPU, HDD and Memory using a slimline unit is impossible.
As of late, the Memory, CPU and GPU of notebooks has dramatically improved with new architectures, lower voltage memory modules and advancements in graphics technology. This has helped to increase the amount of potential gaming power the notebook era has now inherited; the only weak point being the storage medium, the hard disk.
Hard disks are a simple and cost effective way of storing data; the principal of magnetic storage makes them simple in design, however they have a few flaws compared to solid state storage methods.
First off, they have moving parts; the heads and the spinning metal disks are vulnerable to shock damage if they are dropped or experience extreme G-Force shock, which is a risk with portable computing. The second major flaw is that they are slow compared to that of RAM; memory can transfer data at speeds of over 6GB/s where the fastest HDD can only work with sustained speeds of around the 120MB/s mark when in RAID arrays. While SSD or Solid State Disks are making their way in, we are still working with the current generation of storage and Western Digital has managed to do very well at increasing sizes and speeds.
Today we are testing out the Western Digital Scorpio 2.5" Hard Disk with a maximum capacity of 320GB using the SATA 2.5 specifications. How does it fair? Let's take it for a spin.