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Difference Between 5400 and 7200 Hard Drives

5400 vs 7200 Hard Drives

If you are looking for a hard drive, you’ve probably noticed that they come in 5400 and 7200 rpm variants. RPM stands for revolutions per minute or the speed at which the platters turn. As you may have already guessed, the only difference between these two hard drive types is that a 7200 rpm hard drive spins much faster than a 5400 rpm hard drive.

This single difference results in major differences between 5400 and 7200 hard drives. The first one is the reduced rotational latency, or the time one average that the system waits for the platter to reach the correct position; 4.16ms for the 7200 and 5.55ms for the 5400. This directly correlates to the rate at which information can be written or read from the hard drive. The difference in performance is even greater once fragmentation starts to occur as the files would not be contiguous and the head needs to move multiple times to retrieve the file. In general, 7200 rpm hard drives perform much better than 5400 hard drives.

So why do 5400 hard drives exist if 7200 hard drives are better and not that much more expensive. There are a number of factors that contribute to this. The biggest one is the associated power consumption. 5400 hard drives are often referred to as green drives because they consume less power than 7200 hard drives. This is significant for laptops because they allow the laptop to stretch its battery life. Increased power consumption also means more heat produced. Again, laptops prefer the smaller heat production as heat can make the user uncomfortable.

7200 rpm hard drives also create more noise than 5400 rpm hard drives. This may not be a big deal if you have one or two hard drives. But if you have a lot running at the same time, the cumulative noise can be quite disturbing. This, along with the reduction in power consumption is among the reason why some servers are opting to use 5400 rpm hard drives rather than 7200 rpm hard drives.


  1. 7200 hard drives rotate faster than 5400 hard drives
  2. 7200 hard drives can transfer data faster than 5400 hard drives
  3. 7200 hard drives consume more power than 5400 hard drives
  4. 7200 hard drives create more heat than 5400 hard drives
  5. 7200 hard drives are often noisier than 5400 hard drives

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