Is the RPM of the hard drive that important?

I am trying to decide which hard drive upgrade to get for my future new Mac Mini model A1347. I would like to get as much storage as possible, of course. I see that I can get 500GB at 7200 RPM or 640GB at 5400 RPM.

Will I notice that much difference in speed between these two drives? I don't work with huge files, but I do often have several applications open at a time and switch between them. I plan to max out the RAM at 8GB, eventually.

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Here's an excellent article with test results on the speed bump you get on a 7200 RPM drive verses a 5400 RPM drive: http://www.mactech.com/articles/mactech/...

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Good article +

Thanks for the link - it is nice to have quantify-able data on the difference.

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I would opt for the 7200RPM drive, just find one with as much storage capacity as possible. I recently upgraded to a 7200RPM from 5400, and I noticed a difference in speed as far as opening apps and such. Not a big difference, but noticeable.

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Thanks for taking a stand and making the suggestion. 7200RPM it is!

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You may be able to quantify your options a bit, assuming you have a mac already.

Set your dock to not auto-hide and put Activity Monitor (from Applications -> Utilities)in it. Right click on the icon in the dock and choose Dock Icon / Show Disk Activity. Now open the programs you think you'd use and do what you expect you would do in them, keeping an eye on that icon. Now as I understand it OS X keeps closed programs in memory for reuse if you open them up again until it fills up the existing ram, then it starts recycling (witness the dot under your Safari / iTunes after you close them) so you could expect that after the initial program load your 8 Gigs of ram will work to minimize the work your drive has to do.

On a somewhat related note, it's not uncommon to kit out a performance / gaming rig with a small HDD or even SSD for the OS then add in a large capacity (slow) internal or external drive for your music, movies and other programs where speed doesn't matter much but having them available does.

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Great idea. The whole "virtual memory" aspect of the OS really makes it difficult to gather your own data on this sort of thing. And I appreciate the strategy suggestion for what should be fast and what can be slow.

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There would be a fairly noticeable difference, however you have to decide if the cost is worth it to you, it's noticeable, but not that significant.

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