When shopping for external drives recently I noticed that the majority of the USB3 drives on the shelf were 5400RPM. I was surprised because I normally consider a 5400 drive to be "ludicrously slow" but USB3 to be "pretty darn fast" (those are the technical terms for it).

If I'm looking for a drive that can handle reasonably fast transfers of large files (like system backups, movies, etc) at or around USB3 speeds, will a 5400RPM drive do the job? Or will it be the limiting factor such that I might as well use USB2 or pay the extra money (2-3x the price) for a faster drive?

  • I'd like to appeal the "off-topic" hold. This questions does not at all request technical support, and is in fact asking exactly for pre-purchase recommendations for a specific task. Please repeal the hold or provide a clearer reason for maintaining it so that I might improve the question. – thanby Apr 4 '16 at 15:36
  • 5400 is slow as molasses. The reason is power - that 0.5A which is provided on USB2 is not enough for many drives and you see those ugly Y-cables to provide enough power for the HDD to spin. You want fast, go SSD, no way around that. Or 7200 with external power. – Jan Dorniak Apr 8 '16 at 16:07
  • @JanDorniak What about USB3? Can't that deliver at least 5A? Or is that only if it's externally powered? – thanby Apr 8 '16 at 17:40
  • Per Wikipedia (I'm not that much into USB3) basic specs say 0.9A, with charging ports up to 1.5A and Type C up to 3A. 0.9A should be enough though I believe – Jan Dorniak Apr 8 '16 at 17:59

Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.