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Original post by: Crunch ,

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Hi, Jrstech!

Well, let me see if I can help you find this out. Is it a Momentus 7200.4? Apple has been using a lot of Toshiba drives for its 500GB 5400rpm configurations, including the Mac mini with the Core i5 and the AMD GPU that you have as well as the new 2011 MacBook Pro's. I don't like the Toshiba 5400 drives, as they are mediocre drives. They used 500GB Seagate 7200rpm drives in the high end mini, although in my case, it doesn't matter anymore, as I finally installed my 2nd OWC SSD.

Rest assured that you have made a significant upgrade to your machine. I say this with such confidence, because that's exactly what I did with the Toshiba 750GB 5400rpm drive that I found in the 2011 17" MBP that I had for approx. 2 months, which retails well over $2,500 without tax. The first thing I did was upgrade it to a Hitachi 7200rpm drive and while it is certainly no SSD, the difference was significant enough for me to feel it in day-to-day use.

And this is also where a quick response to the OP's revised question/comment fits in:

''Quoting OP: <<(...)+ for a very well written and thorough question. Want to know the answer to this myself. I love Apple products, but it seems like Apple tries to ties us consumers down more and more as time passes. Things like this are done intentionally to force the consumer to upgrade through Apple. Another example is how Lion only supports Trim for SSD's supplied by Apple. If you want to enable Trim support for any other SSD, you have to do some fancy hacking. Apple's business practices are starting to really suck!!!>>''

I do agree with you on this and as I just stated above, it felt almost as if, after buying a 17" MacBook Pro, there was another step to be performed. Why can't a $2500 MBP come with a decent hard drive? Well, I think we know why, but BTO (Built-To-Order) options are not available in a store, so it's almost as if you're stuck until your 7200rpm drive arrives in the mail before you can really feel that you have a "complete" system on your hands, with all high-end components. The stock 5400rpm drive almost made the 2011 17-incher "look bad" with all of its otherwise high-end components, i.e. Quad Core i7-2720QM with clock speeds of up to 3.3GHz, Turbo Boost permitting, the AMD 6750M 1GB GDDR5 GPU, and ThunderBolt, to name the most well known and advertised examples.

There is, however, one part missing on the spec sheet that gets mentioned quite rarely and that is the SATA III capability, which can, of course, mean the kind of mind-blowing speeds that we have recently seen with all of the new SATA III 6Gbps-compliant solid state drives. What surprises me here is the fact that yes, Apple loves to sell the overpriced SSD's from Samsung and Toshiba, and collect healthy profits for itself, but they are only SATA II drives. Therefore, all "Apple SSD's" (read: Samsung/Toshiba) are significantly slower than ''other'' 3rd party SATA III SSD's. Often times, Apple likes to downplay the difference of new (as well as existing) technologies as "not worth pursuing" because...(insert your favorite Apple explanation here). In case of SATA III vs. SATA II, the difference, however, is nothing short of stunning, amazing, mind-blowing, and maybe even..."magical"? I kid you, Steve Jobs, I do. We all love you! :-P

To be fair, I also want to point out that replacing the hard drives in the 2011 Mac mini is somewhat easier than in the previous generation 2010 model, as it no longer uses the type of thermal sensors that Apple used in the 2010 models. At the same time, Apple made sure that upgrading the 2011 iMac's all but impossible with the use of its new proprietary SATA connection. This move cannot be explained away other than to recognize that this is a sincere attempt by Apple to keep us from using our own equipment in the 2011 iMac line, and the SATA III argument very much applies here as well.

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