Using a laptop hard drive in a desktop machine?

The deed is already done, but I’m still curious: Is there any disadvantage to using a 2.5" spinning hard drive in a desktop machine, rather than just going with the standard 3.5"?

I currently own an Alienware R5 Aurora desktop machine. I love it, but I felt that the 1 TB hard drive was too small. Well, it took 18 months, but I finally filled it up, and need more HD space.

It already came with a 240 GB SSD for the Windows drive, and the only other drive was the 1 TB 3.5" 7200 rpm. I am on a budget, so going all-SSD is out of the question for now.

However, this goofy Alienware case, while cleverly laid-out inside, amazingly offers zero space for an additional hard drive. Unless that hard drive is either a 2.5" laptop drive or an SSD. There is room (and handy mounting already in place) for two laptop drives.

So I ordered a 2.5" 1 TB WD Black from Amazon and installed it. Went fine. No adapters necessary.

But this caused me to wonder: Why don’t all desktop machines simply use 2.5" drives? They are much, much smaller in footprint, and this one cost less than the 3.5" version. Are there drawbacks? The speed should be the same, right? 7200 rpm for both. All I can think of is maybe they run hotter due to size?

It’s not a really important question, as I’ve already done it. I’m just wondering if there is a reason all desktop hard drives aren’t 2.5" instead of 3.5".

Also, which way is right-side up? Label side? Does it matter?

I think at one time the laptop drives were more expensive, but I don’t think there’s a downside to the form factor, no.

It will work fine, but 2.5" magnetic hard drives tend to be slower, more expensive for the storage, and lower-capacity. So if you have the space, get a 3.5".

Orientation really doesn’t matter. If you feel better with the label side up, go for it.

Thanks, guys!

How would a 2.5" be slower than a 3.5" if both are running at 7200 rpm?

Cool. I asked because the mounting pretty much forced me to install it label side down, which doesn’t look right. Glad to hear it doesn’t matter.

They tend to be slower as most 2.5" drives aren’t 7200RPM. They often have less cache too.

But this one is, dammit.
You are correct about the cache, however. Thanks for pointing that out, as I never even thought to look at that. 32 MB vs. 64 in this case.

Yes, not all drives are created equal, and there are more variables than rotational speed and cache. For example, both the WD Blue and Black 3.5" models are 7200RPM, and both have 64MB cache, but the Black has higher density platters so they’re faster and noisier, while the Blue has higher endurance and is quieter.

Good to know. I’ve apparently fallen behind on HD specs. I’ve always bought WD Blacks because I thought they were the only WD consumer drives that were 7200 rpm. I just assumed everything else would be 5400 or slower. From what you just said, I may have been better served with a Blue for my storage drives.

At the low end of space the drives prices might be comparable, but that’s 1TB is a small size drive for a 3.5, so there is a bit of premium to have a 3.5 drive of any size.

Something like this costs about the same in a 3.5 form:

Toshiba 7200 3TB for 70 bucks

For this reason, it might actually have been more price efficient (per gig) if you updated the single 3.5 inch drive to a 3, 4, or 6 TB drive. You can get a 3 for about 70 bucks, or a six for about twice that. More work transferring files around though.

I don’t bother with 7200 myself anymore. Spinning disks are for holding the data, all the actual work is done on the SSD. I just want a reliable giant disk.

I have a 1TB 2.5" drive new pull from a Dell laptop, if anyone wants it. Let’s call it $10?

19 hours and no takers? Sure, I’m all over that.

That’s exactly it. I should have really stuck in a bigger drive right away when it was new, but I was all excited to get it fired up, and then after I had a few games installed and a bunch of saved games, I just decided what the hell.

Good thing the hard drive miners haven’t been successful. I love that price.

If you had a 10" wheel and a 15" wheel and you spun both of them at the same RPM, would they both travel the same distance in the same amount of time?

Data density plays a large part in this, but I’m just saying that this is one reason why a 2.5" drive could be slower than a 3.5" drive, everything else being equal.

I hadn’t thought of that one, either.

Received in fine shape. Thanks wumpus.