Hard drive performance debated by TechRepublic membership

Hard drive specs, such as read/write time and RPM, continue to improve, but does this always translate into increased system performance? One TechRepublic member poses the question: Can the typical end user detect the effects of a faster drive?

A recent client upgrade from Windows 9x to Windows 2000 Professional got TechRepublic member maxwell�edison thinking: "Would a normal user detect a difference in the speed of his or her computer when you switch an older 'first' generation hard drive for a newer 'second' generation model?" Maxwell asked his question in the Technical Q&A hoping to gather "qualified opinions/observations" on the functional differences.

First vs. second generation
Maxwell sets up the following scenario:

"The first generation would be those drives that are several years old, most commonly 5400 rpm, 10ms/11ms average seek time, four read/write heads, etc. A 6.5-GB Fujitsu Model MPC3064AT drive would fit into this category." (See this Web site for specs.)

"The second generation would be those most commonly sold the past one or two years, most commonly 7200 rpm, 8ms average seek time, six read/write heads, etc. The 20/40/60-GB IBM Deskstar drives would fit into this category." (See this Web site for specs.)

Assuming all other factors are equal, would a computer running normal Windows functions and applications (e.g., Outlook and Office) perform noticeably better with a newer, second generation drive?

Is there a significant difference?
Maxwell and the end user could notice a measurable difference between the speed of a newer IBM Deskstar drive and an older one from Fujitsu. It was evident that, with the Fujitsu drive, the user had "a significantly slower computer, especially accessing local files, opening folders, etc."

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