As with memory capacity, a common cost saving tactic of some manufacturers is to enhance a laptops specification by installing two cheaper and smaller in capacity hard disk drives. Remember, the maximum storage capacity of a 2.5” HDD is 320GB, thus if a laptop is advertised with anything above this mark, you know there are two HDD’s installed. In fact if a laptop has HDD capacity over 200GB, there is a strong possibility the manufacturer has saved on cost by inserting two, cheaper HDD’s. This can affect build integrity, data retrieval speed, reduce battery life and make the laptop considerably heavier. Remember this when factoring in portability requirements, the HDD is one of the heaviest internal components of a notebook so it is essential you know exactly what situation the laptop will be used in. i.e. do not purchase a laptop with a monster hard drive, if you want a mobile unit that is operable from a hand held position.
While weighing up how much storage capacity you require from your laptop it is also worth considering HDD speed as many manufacturers offer a choice of speeds – 4200RPM, 5400RPM or 7200RPM. This determines how quickly the drive can be accessed and returns information. Again, as with any laptop component you want to avoid the minimum spec, as such unless you are happy to wait for applications to launch and information to be retrieved then steer clear of a 4200RPM HDD. Instead look for a HDD with 5400RPM and to be fair most laptop HDD’s in the mid range market will have 5400RPM as standard. It is however worth considering a 7200RPM HDD if you require immediate responsiveness and top notch performance. 7200RPM HDD’s do take more battery power as the CPU and memory have to work that much harder but this shouldn’t be a major concern. Not unless your laptop is going to be running disk intensive tasks from mobile locations (i.e. not connected to mains power) such as video editing, extensive data processing, or advanced photography.
One further note for future reference, you may soon begin to see new storage technologies trickle down to the mid range laptop market, such as HDD with flash memory chip technology. This works off the same principle as USB memory and camera memory cards to deliver fast and reliable data interrogation without such a drain on battery power.