Pick out a nice size 5400 RPM and be happy. No, you don't have to have the same RPM as the old drive.
My p3-600 boot time dropped from over 4 minutes to under 2 and all I changed was the hard disk. I was amazed.
I have a Gateway laptop, 3.5 years old 1.8 GHz P4 M and 512 MB of RAM with a 40 GB hard drive.
OK, so my problem is the hard drive seems to have something physically wrong with it. It will randomly start clicking, like it got caught on something and can't keep spinning and then it crashes. Sometimes I can't even get it to start up because it doesn't appear to be able to load the proper files. The computer is also much slower, which seems to be a side effect of the bad harddrive as well.
I'm prepared to go ahead and replace it, but I wanted some suggestions on the RPM speed and cache because I don't know anything about that. Also, any brand recommendations? I saw CNETs article on upgrading your laptop, but I don't want transfer software. I'm just going to start fresh anyway. I have my data backed up and there's no guarantee this hard drive would make it through the transfer anyhow.
Lastly, if I was looking to extend the life of my laptop with this repair/upgrade, is it worth it to upgrade the RAM or is 512 really enough? Thanks!