250GB Seagate 5400.4 Hard Drive Review

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The 5400.4 hard disk drive is the second generation perpendicular recording 5400RPM drive from Seagate, offering quite a few enhancements off the old model. On paper these items include lower power draw, faster internal write speeds, increased platter density allowing for larger capacities, and best of all Seagate reliability. While all the paper specifications look great, just how well does this drive perform in our real world testing?

 

Seagate 250GB 5400.4 Specifications

  • Model: ST92508827AS
  • Speed: 5400 RPM
  • Average Latency: 5.6ms
  • Seek: 12ms read, 14ms write
  • Interface: SATA 3.0Gb/s
  • Cache: 8MB
  • Capacity: 250GB
  • Areal density: 204 Gbits/inch2
  • Size: HxWxL, .374 x 2.75 x 3.945"
  • Weight: .23LBs
  • Price: 109.99

Test Setup


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Design

The new Seagate 5400.4 drive has a couple of differences compared to the older 5400.3, including a newer circuit board layout, difference case sticker, and a smaller vent port. Most of these changes are pretty minor, and most people wouldn’t even recognize the changes. Overall what’s inside is the important part, and the drive could be hot pink for all I care since it won’t be seen once installed inside the notebook.


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Performance

The speed of the 5400.4 drive is quite impressive, going well above my initial expectations. Going off of the paper specifications, the sustained internal transfer speeds were listed at 58MB/s on the new 5400.4 drives across the board regardless of capacity, where as the 5400.3 were listed at 44MB/s, and the 7200.2 at 59MB/s for the capacity I had on hand. This speed put the 5400RPM drive well into the 7200RPM drive territory at a bargain price. For testing we used HDTune and ATTO Disk Benchmark to compare all three drives, all with my Lenovo ThinkPad T60 notebook.

HDTune

Seagate 5400.4

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Seagate 5400.3

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Seagate 7200.2


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ATTO

Seagate 5400.4

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Seagate 5400.3

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Seagate 7200.2


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As you can see, not only did the new 5400.4 drive blow away the older 5400.3, but it also put my 7200.2 drive to shame in all categories but access speed. Although my drive is pushing a year old by now, I originally paid $120 for the 120GB drive, where now a 250GB drive is faster and cheaper at only $109.

Another change, but not as apparent, is the power difference between the newer and older generation 5400RPM drive. Idle and standby power draw remained the same at 0.6/0.2W between each model, where the read/write were slightly different. The older 5400.3 drew less power on read using 1.9W, with the new 5400.4 listed as 2.0W. On write the newer drive came in on top rated at 1.6W, and the older consuming 1.8W. Since these changes are so small you probably won’t even notice a difference, but it might add up for an extra 3-4 minutes of battery life.

New products that offer this drive

With this drive hitting the market only a couple of months ago, most manufacturers are still pushing out their stock of the older Seagate drives, as well as other manufacturers’ drives they pick and chose from. We have yet to see any notebook come through our shop with one of these drives, but we did see it inside a new USB external storage drive. Hopefully consumers won’t have to wait long for this drive though, since it really blows away the older model transfer speeds, and best of all offers much larger capacities.


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Heat and Noise

Thermal output of this drive was not a problem at all, running about 38-40 degrees Celsius at idle, and 43-45C under load. This was about average for most notebook drive temperatures, but this could change depending on your notebook layout.

Noise was minimal at best, and even with it exposed while running two feet from my ear you could barely tell if it was operating. Seeking noise was super quiet and idle noise was almost nothing. Unless you were in an absolutely silent room I don’t think you would hear it.

 

Conclusion

The Seagate 5400.4 series hard drive is an excellent upgrade compared to the previous generation drive, offering a substantial bump in drive performance and capacity for close to the same selling price. Not only was it a few steps above the older 5400RPM drive, but it also surpassed my current 7200RPM Seagate drive in overall transfer speeds as well as average speed. You really can’t ask for more and this drive is hands down a clear winner.

Pros

  • Much faster than the previous generation 5400.3, and faster than my 7200.2
  • Higher capacity options than older generation
  • Operates with barely any noise

Cons

  • Not offered in multiple color options (just kidding)


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