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Serial ATA Drives Compared

Real World Tests and Analysis


Originally posted 09/09/03 by rob-ART morgan, mad scientist

This is PAGE TWO shows the REAL WORLD test results of the various Serial ATA drive combinations. See the TEST NOTES for details on the drives.






  (Drives with "*" have been converted from PATA to SATA.)



The Hitachi Deskstar 7K250 was fastest overall in the Real World tests. It came in first on the Photoshop Scratch and QuickTime Playback tests. It was a close second on the Finder Duplicate test. It was fastest in the QuickBench benchmark Sustained Read. This would probably make a great boot drive for the G5.

The Maxtor DiamondMax Plus 9 was fastest overall in the QuickBench benchmark tests. It was first in Random Read and Write. It was first in Sustained Write. It came in third in the Sustained Read. In the Real World tests, it came in first for Finder Duplicate. This would probably make a great second drive or capture drive.

The Seagate Barracuda 7200.7, though no slouch, came in third compared to the two "native" SATA drives above. This same drive is shipped inside the G5/1.8GHz Power Mac.

When we receive the G5/2GHz MP in the lab, you can bet we'll be testing the Hitachi and Maxtor drives to see if they make better system boot drives than the Seagate.

The "PATA" drives we converted to "SATA" with the Addonics adapter did very well. The converted Hitachi 180gxp beat the Maxtor "native" SATA in 2 out of 3 Real World tests and beat the 7K250 in the Random Write test. The converted Maxtor drive beat the "native" Maxtor SATA drive in the Random Write test.

The only downside with using the Addonics adapter is that you can't close the door on the G4 tower. I've suggested a simple design change to the company that would make the adapter more viable as a way to convert existing internal drives to SATA. Until then, they will need to remain as PATA drives or be put outside the box in a FireWire 800 enclosure.

If you are buying a G5 and need more than two drives or are wanting to keep the drives you have, the best short term option is putting them in a FireWire 800 enclosure. However, expect some SATA products to appear that enable you to put extra SATA drives (or converted PATA-to-SATA drives) outside the G5 tower.



How much speed is lost when a SATA drive fills up?

Which flavor of SATA drives makes the best RAID 0 striped array?

SATA versus PATA vs FireWire 800

Four drive, four channel RAID shootout between Ultra ATA133, FireWire 800 and Ultra320 SCSI.

Check out these articles on Storage Review:

Raptor 10K SATA drive versus PATA and SCSI drives.

Barracuda 7200.7 SATA and PATA drives

Is 8MB buffer really better than 2MB buffer?



The Power Mac G4/1.42MP with 2GB of DDR memory and OS X (10.2.6) was the test mule. It was purchased from Small Dog Electronics.

The dual channel
SeriTek/1S2 Serial ATA PCI host adapter from FirmTek (5.0.2 of the firmware). For your G5 tower, you need firmware version 5.0.3. This can be ordered direct from FirmTek.


Hitachi Deskstar 7K250 250GB Serial ATA version

Maxtor DiamondMax Plus 9 160GB Serial ATA version

Seagate Barracuda 7200.7 160GB Serial ATA version (This drive was also the one Apple ships from the factory inside the G5/1.8GHz tower.)

Hitachi Deskstar 180GXP 180GB Parallel ATA-100 version with Addonics Serial ATA adapter.

Maxtor DiamondMax Plus 9 160GB Parallel ATA-133 version with Addonics Serial ATA adapter.

Good sources for buying Serial ATA drives include and GoogleGear. (Search on key word like "7K250" or "DiamondMax" or "Barracuda".)

SEE "HOW WE TEST" for details on the tests reflected in the graphs.



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