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Maxtor DiamondMax Plus 9 80gb Hard Drive

Page: 3/4
Performance and Benchmarks

Let's talk for a moment about how the cache on a hard drive is actually used. When a read request is received, the drive checks the cache to see if the data is there, and if so, returns it directly from the cache. This results in a response time of microseconds, instead of the milliseconds it takes to seek the heads and wait for the disk to spin. If the data is not present in the cache, then the drive seeks to it, and reads it into the cache, and returns the information to the system. Since most reads are sequential in nature (once you read byte 44, then you want byte 45, etc.) the drive continues to ?read ahead? to cache the next data. When it is requested by the system, it is already in the cache, and can be returned quickly. The cache is many times faster than the milliseconds required for the drive head to move and read the data every time it is requested. A larger cache allows more space for temporary storage, reducing the number of times that the drive needs to seek, providing higher throughput, and speed is what this drive is all about!

The Maxtor drive was compared to a similar drive from Western Digital. You can see the test beds in both tests as well as the results gathered from two hard drive benchmark programs available on the web. Both HDTach and FutureMark's PCMark are great for testing system performance focusing on the hard drive. We selected these because both have trustworthy reputations and provide unbiased test results.

PCMark by FutureMark tests hard drive speed by transferring fairly large blocks of information, larger than the 8MB cache. This helps to eliminate results that would test memory speeds instead of drive speeds. For these benchmarks we used PCMark2002. ?HDTach's sequential read test is a little bit different from other benchmarks.? (From the HDTach website.) ?Most benchmarks create a file on the hard drive and test within that file...HDTach reads from areas all over the hard drive and reports an average speed. It also logs the read speeds to a text file that you can load into a spreadsheet and graph to visually read the results of the test.? For this review, we used the current version, HDTach 2.61.

Test System #1 Specs:
-Windows XP Professional Corporate Edition w/ SP1
-AMD Athlon XP 2200+ Processor
-512MB Micron PC2100 RAM
-Gigabyte GA-7VAXP Ultra Motherboard
-GeForce 4 Ti4800 SE 128MB Gainward Video Card
-Maxtor DiamondMax Plus 9 80GB ATA/133 HDD w/ 8MB Cache @ 7200RPM

Test System #2 Specs:
-Windows XP Professional Edition w/ SP1
-AMD Athlon XP 2200+ Processor
-512MB Micron PC2100 RAM
-Gigabyte GA-7VRP Rev. 2 Motherboard
-GeForce 3 Ti200 64MB VisionTek Video Card
-Western Digital 80GB ATA/133 HDD w/ 8MB Cache @ 7200 RPM

These are the results obtained from running PCMark. The Maxtor drive (right), as you can see, beats the Western Digital drive (left) by 88 points. This shows that the Maxtor Drive is indeed faster than the Western Digital 80gb drive. This score however doesn?t show true performance which is why we used HDTach (below) to obtain accurate read speeds as well as random access times.

Maxtor (bottom) also beat Western Digital (top) in this test. Both the random access times and the read speed are better on the Maxtor drive. Lower access times are better, as that is the time it takes the drive to locate the data it is trying to load. The Maxtor HDD had great results in this benchmark and I was really surprised. Keep in mind that during testing, no other programs were running on either system, and both systems had been freshly restarted as well, eliminating the possibility of a program interrupting test results.

The benchmark results were what I expected. Both read speeds were around average for an ATA/133 drive; however, we found the CPU Utilization to be incredibly high on the Western Digital drive when compared to the Maxtor. The Maxtor drive performed very well in all benchmarks and outperformed the Western Digital comparison drive. Not only were access times lower but read speeds were higher; resulting in a faster overall drive.

**Editors Note: We changed the sentence regarding CPU Utilization on July 7, 2003 due to concerns found in emails...CPU Utilization on the Western Digital Hard drive was "abnormal" when compared to that of the Maxtor.

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