Upgraded my MacBook Pro with a Seagate 160GB Momentus 7200.2 HDD

momentus-72002.jpgAs long as I have had my MacBook Pro I have regretted ordering a 120GB 5400rpm drive. I ordered it when the it was first announced, and in my all my excitement I failed to notice the performance difference between 5400rpm and 7200rpm drives. My good friend Frankie quickly pointed it out; no, I didn’t appreciate it. As much as I wanted to swap the drive, I just couldn’t justify it because of the price and the fact that my drive is always full, until recently 160GB 7200rpm drives weren’t even available. I was very excited when I learned that Seagate was releasing a drive for me, only to be disappointed to have to wait to actually receive it. Well the time has finally arrived and it was worth the wait. Anxious to justify my purchase I rebooted and ran back to back XBench tests to get a baseline before swapping in the new drive (more on that later).

After following the great disassembly instructions at iFixit and only loosing one screw I used my favorite Linux LiveCD Gentoo to dd the original disc which took just over an hour. I used the same technique I did for upgrading my Series3, and lucky for me, 2.5″ SATA drives use the same physical interface as the 3.5″ variety. I put everything back together and what do you know, it booted.

Just before I got started my friend Ryan reminded me that 7200rpm drives will kill my battery faster than 5400rpm does, thanks for hating on my new purchase! So just after I booted with my new drive and ran XBench a few times, I researched the drives specs and more specifically the power requirements. The original Toshiba MK1234GSX drive averaged 2.5 watts when seeking compared to the Seagate which was 2.3 watts, while the Read/write uses 2.0 watts vs 2.1 watts and lastly the idle/standby: 1.0/0.25 vs 0.8/0.25. So not only is the new drive bigger and faster, but it also uses less power!

On to performance.
I ran multiple XBench tests so I took the best from both.

Total Disk test results: 30.41 vs 41.86 or 27% increase.

Sequential test results: 35.76 vs 89.12 or 60% increase.

Random test Results: 26.46 vs 27.35 or 3% increase.

My overall XBench score also went from 83.64 to 97.54, which I think makes it well worth the $199 for the new drive, not to mention the additional 37GB of usable space and now I can turn the old 120GB drive into a pocket drive.

25 Responses to “Upgraded my MacBook Pro with a Seagate 160GB Momentus 7200.2 HDD”

  1. jkOnTheRun says:

    Mac hard drive upgrade: faster and uses less power

    While I’m still waiting for my MacBook Pro to return from the repair shop, my friend Ben is rolling up his sleeves and upgrading the hard drive in his notebook. He just removed the 120 GB 5400RPM drive and replaced it with a $200 Seagate Momentus 7200…

  2. peter says:

    What enclosure will you be using to make a pocket drive?

  3. bjdraw says:

    Haven’t found one yet.
    Idealy it would have USB 2.0, 1394a and eSATA, but I am not sure if such a beast exists. Also I would like it to be powered via the laptop rather than require and additional power supply.

    I would love to hear some suggestions.

  4. Bob Daniels says:

    Came across your site looking for a Seagate Momentus 5400rpm 120gb upgrade for my G4 Pismo. Any suggestions on yea or nay on 5400 or 7200 for my machine?



  5. bjdraw says:

    I would go with 7200 if you could. If you have it down to two drives then compare the manufactures specs to see which one would be the best for you. Personally I always feel like I need the biggest drive I can get without sacrificing performance which is why I was so happy to finally find a 7200rpm 160GB drive.

  6. Bob Daniels says:

    The equal specs for the Momentus leave it a coin toss for which HD to get. For me the choice is a 7200 100gb or 5400 120gb. Since I have an 80gb now I need to weigh the advantage of speed/heat verses 20 or 40 gigs more storage. I was told by smalldog.com the Pismo can’t push a 7200/160 because of size not speed.

    Thanks for the input.


  7. Martin says:

    Bob, thanks for writing all this. Im with you in the excitement, now I just need to justify to my gf why I need to upgrade a perfect 120GB drive to gain 40GB.

    I would like to mention that as tests shows, the more you put on the drive the slower it goes. Usually people put stuff on the harddrive, and in the end both had the same speed when filled up between 5400/7200.

    So maybe you should run that Xbench again once you install all programs, music etc etc. and see how fast it is after that.

    When I get mine, and I will… then I will only install programs and nothing else, to keep the speed up to maximum. I also have an eSATA drive as scratch disk and 400Firewire as software, itunes, movie box 🙂

    Grats on the HD!

  8. Bob Daniels says:

    >>Bob, thanks for writing all this. Im with you in the excitement,>>

    Yeah, it’s really old school Mac and I dig it.

    >> now I just need to justify to my gf why I need to upgrade a perfect 120GB drive to gain 40GB.>>

    That’s the good thing about babes…they help us keep it real : )

    >>I would like to mention…the more you put on the drive the slower it goes.>>

    My thinking is, and I may be off, but when I am in a partiton, all the Mac is really dealing with is the “active” system and the passive stuff draws little cpu energy??

    As I have it now, os x only gets 10gig out of 80 because I just don’t use it much ‘cept for surfing so on the new drive it will get 20 gigs for some headroom and I’m guessing it should run smooth.

    I just don’t use iStuff much and do all my day to day in 9.2.2 where it is quiet and simple. The small mp3 vid collection I have sit in a “warehouse” partition with no os. Sort of a ZenMac setup for me.

    >>So maybe you should run that Xbench again…and see how fast it is after that.>>

    Sounds logical Spock : )

    >>I also have an eSATA drive as scratch disk and 400Firewire as software, itunes, movie box>>

    Stuff can pile up, can’t it?

    >>Grats on the HD!>>

    Yeah, it’s like xmas…I’m breaking in a new TruePower High Capacity batt from FastMac as I write. It arrived at 58%, I took it up to 100% and then got almost 6 hours of juice. Boys and our toys….


  9. joe says:

    How can you clone your old (OS X plus bootcamp ) drive to the new drive?

  10. bjdraw says:

    You connect both drives to a computer at the same time and use a utility to do a bit level copy. (I used dd on a Mac)

    Then you have to move the two bootcamp partitions to the end of the disk and expand the main volume. (I used iPartition)

  11. Dave says:

    for bjdraw

    What exactly is dd on a Mac?

    Thanks in advance for your reply.

  12. bjdraw says:

    It is a command available at the terminal.

    Lets say the original drive was /dev/disk1 and the new was /dev/disk2
    You would use this command to copy.
    dd if=/dev/disk1 of=/dev/disk2 size=1m

    You could use CopyCatX if you don’t mind paying for it.

  13. Dave says:

    Does this imply that CarbonCopy Cloner (free) does not give an exact copy? It’s been awhile since I replaced a drive on a laptop… but I am considering ordering the 160 for my MacBook Pro and swapping out his 100 from my 120. I’ll keep the 100 as my backup drive.

  14. bjdraw says:

    CarbonCopy Cloner is a file level utility, so if you want to copy the contents of one HFS+ partition to another it works perfectly. It will not copy the two bootcamp partitions you need for boot camp.

  15. Filippo says:

    Hi Man

    I read your statement. Sounds all great but what about the noise? It the Seagate Momentus 7200.2 louder as the Orginal one? And if so, how much louder is it?

    I own a MacBook (Black one, with 2GB RAM) would you suggest to upgrade to the Momentus 7200.2? I think the Toshiba MK1234GSX is really slow and I see that when i use FileVault the performance is than very poor of the disc. I also have very long start ups. Could the replacement change that? What do you think?

    Kind Regards


  16. I never noticed any noise from my original Hard drive so it is hard to compare.

    I have never been bothered by the noise of the new one, but if I put my ear right next to it, I can hear it, but I would have to say it isn’t any louder than the original.

    I can also definitely tell it is faster, everything seems snappier.

  17. Ed says:


    Forget the 1394 enclosure.. just look for an eSATA II and pug it into this bad boy

    Would you mind posting your full xbench before and after upgrade for the disk test?

    I’m acitvely looking into what to do, and after finding the seagate, found your page, according to google there’s not detailed xbench comparison on the web.


  18. Filippo says:


    One more thing. What’s about the temperature? How hot does the disc get? Do you have some benchmarks about that? And what about the vibration? Can you fell something when you have your hands on the macbook and if yes is it unconftable?


  19. I haven’t noticed a difference in temperature or vibration. Considering the drive uses less power, I would bet it does so by wasting less energy creating heat.

  20. Al says:

    Does anyone know if I shoudl remove the jumper (to enable 3gb/sec) or does MacBook not support 3Gb

  21. […] I don’t know if anyone has seen this blog post but I saved it a while back to refer to it for how well upgrading to a 7200 turned out for them: Upgraded my MacBook Pro with a Seagate 160GB Momentus 7200.2 HDD

  22. Max v. R. says:

    did you get the one with g-force protection or the one without it?

    i’m thinking about getting the seagate momentus 7200.2 200gb (st9200420asg) or the one without g-force protection (st9200420as) but i don’t know about the g-force thing…


  23. I’m pretty sure the g-force one is new, so I have the other one.

  24. Alex says:

    Wow…. talk about “golden handcuffs”. I have a Mac Book Pro 2.0 15 inch glossy Core Duo. It does not have Firewire B. Instead it has (1394a) Firewire A (400). Why is this important to mention first? Because I have an extended warranty until 2009!! I don’t want to have voided warranty issues with Apple so my goal is to boot OSX and Windows from an external drive. I want to use Microsoft Flight Simulator X via Bootcamp. I need a fast performing external drive solution that I can backup. I am thinking of buying 1394a external drive or perhaps buying a external drive to attach to a not yet bought eSATA II adapter card. I really dont know what to do. I cannot make space on my internal drive (I need it all.) Any ideas?

  25. […] the very beginning I intended to use my old MBP hard drive as a pocket drive and I finally got around to buying an external case. I really wanted one that was […]