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Old Aug 15th, 2008, 03:37 PM   #1
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MacBook hard drive upgrade - so worth it

I just installed a 250 gig, 5400 rpm Fujitsu HD in my First-generation white MacBook (60 gig original hard drive) in addition to upping the ram to two gigs from one.

I upped the ram a few days ago a noticed a mild speed improvement. But the hard drive upgrade seems to have really jazzed the MacBook up. I'm not sure if its the faster drive speed, the larger cache or if it was the restore from Time Machine (which doesn't restore caches and log files and leaves the system instead to rebuild them) which are responsible for the speed jump.

Overall the hardware installs were painless (putting in the ram required a bit of force to seat properly) and took under 20 minutes (combined). The restore from backup took about an hour and a half.

If you've been considering upping your ram or hard drive (I did both for a combined $210, taxes, shipping included), it's time to do it. It's well worth it.
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Old Aug 15th, 2008, 04:21 PM   #2
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If the new drive is 5400, there is no difference in drive speed over the original drive, as the original would have been 5400 RPM as well. If you lacked serious free space on the original drive, and now you don't with the new, larger drive, that would also speed up the MacBook.
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Old Aug 15th, 2008, 04:36 PM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Lars View Post
If the new drive is 5400, there is no difference in drive speed over the original drive, as the original would have been 5400 RPM as well. If you lacked serious free space on the original drive, and now you don't with the new, larger drive, that would also speed up the MacBook.
I had always thought it was 4,200 rpm until you pointed that out. Thanks.

Well that rules out RPMs as a factor. However, I wonder if the Fujitsu has a larger cache.

I had about 6 gigs of space left on the 60 gig drive, I'm not sure if that's a serious lack of space or not.
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Old Aug 15th, 2008, 04:37 PM   #4
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There are two ways the new 5400 RPM drive is faster than the original 5400 RPM drive.

1) Areal density. The platters on the new drives pack the data bits much more closely than older drives. This means that in 1/5400th of a second, more MB of data pass under the hard drive heads = higher throughput

2) Track length. All hard drives start out relatively fast. Then as you add data to them they slow down -- not because of a lack of 'free space' but because the data is being written to the inside tracks of the drive.

Drives write from the outside in. The outermost tracks of the platter are the longest (perimeter = pi * D) so again, in 1/5400th of a second more track length passes under the heads = more MB read or written. As a hard drive fills up, the data is written to the inner tracks of the drive, which can be as much as 50% less throughput than the outer tracks. Performance drops as the diameter drops and the track length shortens.

When you have a 60 GB drive that is 80% full, you are taking a big inner-track performance hit. But 48 GB on a 250 GB hard drive hardly makes a dent in the capacity, so you are still getting near-optimum track length and throughput.
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Old Aug 15th, 2008, 06:17 PM   #5
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That was amazingly insightful. Thanks CanadaRAM.
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Old Aug 15th, 2008, 06:39 PM   #6
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Personally, I would've went with a 7200rpm 16MB cache drive instead. More expensive, but the smaller capacity trade-off is worth the substantial speed increase.. offset with an external storage device is my preferred method of upgrade.

Nonetheless, the Macbook is by far the easiest Mac notebook to upgrade IMO.. and 250GB is MUCH better than 60GB no matter what!
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Old Aug 15th, 2008, 06:41 PM   #7
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Thanks for the info Canadaram. Sounds like a good idea and time to upgrade the old HD.

So... I HAVE swapped out a PowerBook HD before. Not exactly simple or pretty - but it got done. Does anyone have an opinion as to whether changing the HD in the MBPs a little less invasive? I don't want to hurt my baby.
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Old Aug 15th, 2008, 06:54 PM   #8
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Quote:
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Does anyone have an opinion as to whether changing the HD in the MBPs a little less invasive?
It's more invasive, certainly not less.
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Old Aug 15th, 2008, 07:59 PM   #9
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Another factor in NBiBooker's sudden "jazzing up" was probably the TM restore, which would have had the effect of defragging.

Don't worry, NBiBooker, it will get slower again over time. But now you know how to fix that.
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Old Aug 15th, 2008, 08:05 PM   #10
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I'm glad you said that - people might think I was campaigning or some such



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