BARE FEATS - real world Mac speed tests

What's the Fastest ATA/EIDE Drive Under $200?

October 11th, 2001
October 13th with Maxtor's newest 80GB 7200rpm drive
by
rob ART morgan, Bare Feats Mad Scientist

 

  

 

 NOTE: THE CHARTS ABOVE DISPLAY MB/SEC SO LONGER IS BETTER. THIS LAST CHART BELOW DISPLAYS TOTAL TIME SO SHORTER IS BETTER.

  

PERFORMANCE ANALYSIS

The Barracuda ATA IV scored highest in 6 out of 8 tests. The Maxtor D740X comes in a close second by scoring equal or better than the Barracuda in 4 out of 7 tests.

The IBM 60gxp, the previous speed champ, came in second in 4 out of 7 tests. The Western Digital WD800BB that ships with the G4/800MP last or next to the last in all but two tests. It seems to be the best scratch drive for Photoshop.

I've always been partial to Seagate drives. For me, they have been reliable and quiet and fast. The new Barracuda ATA IV drive is no exception. It registered the fastest sustained read/write speed of any EIDE/ATA drive tested to date. It tied with the sustained speed of a Seagate Cheetah Ultra160 15,000 rpm drive, considered the epitome of drive speed. So it is the new Ultra ATA champ.

CAUTION: When I hooked up these drives to the same FireWire enclosure, I got a whole different ranking in speed. The IBM 60gxp was the standout. The Barracuda IV 4 was shockingly slow until I formatted it using FWB's HDToolkit and used their FW enabler. Then it was right in the middle of the Pack. Don't expect any of these drives to go faster in a FireWire case than on an Ultra ATA controller. The 50MB/sec theoretical speed of FireWire is just that: theoretical. You know, just as the theoretical speed of ATA/100 is 100MB/sec?

 

WHAT ABOUT OS X?

Some strange differences showed up when the tests were repeated under OS X. All the drives took longer to duplicate the one big file and play back the movie but took much less time to duplicate the folder with many small documents and much less time to run the Photoshop test. The graph below shows the most dramatic difference of the same drive setup under OS X versus OS 9:

 

HOW NOISY ARE THE DRIVES?

The Seagate ATA IV was the quietest. It was the only drive that could not be heard above the noise of the G4 Tower's fans, even when running the noisy random test. The Maxtor D740X. It could barely be heard in the random test. (Both the Seagate and Maxtor have Fluid Dynamic Bearings.) If I had a Power Cube G4 or iMac DV and wanted to upgrade the hard drive with a very quiet one, the Barracuda would be my choice.

 

WHAT ABOUT RELIABILITY?

I have no scientific evidence of how reliable these drives are. I've learned from painful experience that the only sure thing is death and taxes. So I always buy two of any drive and use the second one as either a mirror or a quick and dirty backup target. There's no drive so good that it will eliminate the need for frequent backup. If you can't afford two 80GB drives, get two 40GB and hedge your bets that way. Or burn a lot of CD's.

 

LINKS TO OTHER REVIEWS
StorageReview.com has tested the Maxtor D740X and compared it to the IBM 60gxp, Barracuda ATA IV, and a Western Digital WD1000BB. In their tests (conducted on a Windows sytem) showed the WD1000BB to be the fastest drive in low level testing and the IBM 60gxp to be fastest in high level testing. The Barracuda came in second and the Maxtor in third for most tests. They also ranked the Barracuda as quietest.

 

IN MY NEXT REPORT....

Will these drives go faster when hooked up to an ATA/100 or ATA/133 controller? And how fast will two of them go in a striped array (RAID 0) using SoftRAID on an ATA/100 controller card or using a true hardware RAID ATA/133 controller card? And what about the new RAID function in OS X? STAY TUNED!

 

WHERE TO BUY

NewEgg.com (last time I checked) had all these drives in stock except the Maxtor D740X (model #6L080L4). No company on the net seems to have that drive just yet. Don't confuse it with the model #6L080J4 which does NOT have fluid dynamic bearing motors.

The reason I mention NewEgg.com is because during the last year, they have had the lowest prices on all models of drives. That's where I buy all my personal drives.

If you already have two drives and want to add a third one, you might consider an ATA/100 PCI controller card such as the Sonnet Tech ATA/100 or Acard Hardware RAID ATA/100.

TEST NOTES

The test "mule" was an Apple Power Mac G4/800MP with disk cache set to 512K (to diminish effect of system caching), AppleTalk OFF, Virtual Memory OFF, and Extensions set to minimal (BASE).

TESTS DRIVES:
Seagate Barracuda ATA IV (ST380021A) 80GB 7200rpm ATA/100

Maxtor DiamondMax Plus D740X (6L080L4) 80GB 7200rpm ATA/100/133
(note model number ending in "L4" has fluid dynamic bearing motors)

IBM Deskstar 60gxp 60GB 7200rpm ATA/100

Western Digital Caviar WD800BB 80GB 7200rpm ATA/100

The Seagate Cheetah X15 36LP (ST318452LW) 18GB 15,000RPM Ultra160 SCSI drive connected to an Adaptec 39160 PCI controller card was included for comparison purposes for those wondering how these newest Ultra ATA drives compare to the fastest Ultra SCSI drive. By the way, this Ultra SCSI drive costs twice as much and has 1/3 the capacity of the Ultra ATA drives tested!

 

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© 1995-2007 Rob Art Morgan
"BARE facts on Macintosh speed FEATS"
Email , the webmaster

 

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