Why I’m not happy with my Hitachi Travelstar 160GB notebook drive

TS5K160_150x175I am a sucker for more of everything when it comes to computers, so I had to upgrade my MacBook Pro’s hard drive to 160GB — the biggest hard drive available at retail. (Of course, soon after I ordered it, 200GB drives started becoming available and Hitachi announced 250GB notebook drives… bastards).

Anyway, it’s a Hitachi Travelstar 5K160 (product ID HTS541616J9SA00) … and just a word of warning to other potential buyers: this drive is NOISY. Unlike all the other drives I’ve had in my previous PowerBooks and MacBook Pro, which have either been Fujitsu or Seagate, this one sounds like a desktop hard drive of old. Do anything remotely data intensive and my lovely quiet notebook starts making frantic ‘da-dadada-da-dadada-dadada’ noises.

Also the Mac tech who installed it for me (Tim Gudex) told me that the air hole on the drive that is boldly marked “do not cover” (presumably to allow the air in the drive to contract and expand with heat) is placed exactly where the MacBook Pro’s hard drive cable has to go. So he had to fudge it a little bit by using some tiny foam blocks to lift the cable up over the hole.

Despite all that, I’m not entirely dissatisfied with the drive. It seems fast enough and I now have more than enough space to install Vista onto the machine and dual-boot it with OS X (and keep ample TV shows etc on the drive).

However, next time I upgrade I think I will stick with Seagate which generally seem to be quiet and reliable notebook drives. In fact, I would have bought Seagate this time except that their 160GB SATA drive was quite a lot more expensive than the Hitachi one 😦

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11 thoughts on “Why I’m not happy with my Hitachi Travelstar 160GB notebook drive

  1. Tim Bishop

    Interesting. I ordered one of those from America and installed it myself. Easy enough to do in a Macbook, but nevertheless a nail-biting experience. Since installing it I haven’t heard it at all. It’s been just as quiet as the stock drive. Maybe your’s was a bit faulty. Still might have to upgrade to a bigger one soon. Amazing how quickly media collections expand to fill whatever space you have!
    Always enjoy the entries in your blog, glad to see your updating again!
    Cheers
    Tim

  2. Tim Bishop

    Interesting. I ordered one of those from America and installed it myself. Easy enough to do in a Macbook, but nevertheless a nail-biting experience. Since installing it I haven’t heard it at all. It’s been just as quiet as the stock drive. Maybe your’s was a bit faulty. Still might have to upgrade to a bigger one soon. Amazing how quickly media collections expand to fill whatever space you have!
    Always enjoy the entries in your blog, glad to see your updating again!
    Cheers
    Tim

  3. Brad Peczka

    Hitachi’s are good on performance – they’re always at the cutting edge of disk tech, with the biggest and fastest drives to show for it.

    They’ve done some good work since taking over the IBM Deathstar line of drives, however I’m still not a fan given the hit-and-miss nature of wether you get a good drive, or a drive with ‘niggles’.

    Case in point: I’ve sold plenty more Seagate and Western Digital drives than I have Hitachi’s, and for some strange reason I still see a few Hitachi’s back each month. While I still get a few Seagate and WD’s back each month, if you work the percentages you’ll find Hitachi has a higher failure rate than the other two.

    That said, my Dell Inspiron 9400 has a Hitachi 100GB SATA drive, and it seems fine so far.

    -B.

  4. Brad Peczka

    Hitachi’s are good on performance – they’re always at the cutting edge of disk tech, with the biggest and fastest drives to show for it.

    They’ve done some good work since taking over the IBM Deathstar line of drives, however I’m still not a fan given the hit-and-miss nature of wether you get a good drive, or a drive with ‘niggles’.

    Case in point: I’ve sold plenty more Seagate and Western Digital drives than I have Hitachi’s, and for some strange reason I still see a few Hitachi’s back each month. While I still get a few Seagate and WD’s back each month, if you work the percentages you’ll find Hitachi has a higher failure rate than the other two.

    That said, my Dell Inspiron 9400 has a Hitachi 100GB SATA drive, and it seems fine so far.

    -B.

  5. Tomash

    I’ve bought Notebook with Hitachi HTS541212H9SA00 – 120GB SATA, 3 weeks ago. Now I lost all my data, the drive is completely unreadable. I’ve tried low level read… I’ll NEVER BUY HITACHI products again. This is my second Hitachi broken drive.

  6. Tomash

    I’ve bought Notebook with Hitachi HTS541212H9SA00 – 120GB SATA, 3 weeks ago. Now I lost all my data, the drive is completely unreadable. I’ve tried low level read… I’ll NEVER BUY HITACHI products again. This is my second Hitachi broken drive.

  7. stuart

    “is boldly marked “do not cover””

    Yep, I noticed this too when I replaced my 160GB Hitachi under warranty. It failed within 4 months of ownership and when I came to install the replacement I was very surprised to see Apple’s cable stuck over the ‘do not cover’ hole. I also had to fudge about to re-route the cable slightly in order to avoid blocking the hole on the new drive 😦 Let’s hope it lasts. Otherwise, I’ll screw the warranty and chuck a 200GB Seagate in the beast.

  8. stuart

    “is boldly marked “do not cover””

    Yep, I noticed this too when I replaced my 160GB Hitachi under warranty. It failed within 4 months of ownership and when I came to install the replacement I was very surprised to see Apple’s cable stuck over the ‘do not cover’ hole. I also had to fudge about to re-route the cable slightly in order to avoid blocking the hole on the new drive 😦 Let’s hope it lasts. Otherwise, I’ll screw the warranty and chuck a 200GB Seagate in the beast.

  9. danwarne

    Yes, fortunately the excellent guy who installed the drive (Tim Gudex) spotted that for me and installed some small foam chocks under Apple’s cable to lift it up a bit.

  10. danwarne Post author

    Yes, fortunately the excellent guy who installed the drive (Tim Gudex) spotted that for me and installed some small foam chocks under Apple’s cable to lift it up a bit.

  11. Wendy

    I had 2 hitachi travelstars die in my macbook, each within 3-4 months. I won't get another one. Trying a Seagate now.

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