Is the hot, new Maxtor 40 gig the fastest Ultra ATA drive under $300?
Posted 3/10/2000
© 2000 Rob Art Morgan, editor of BARE FEATS
I used to say the Seagate Barracuda 20 gig was the fastest Ultra ATA drive, but after reading the impressive press releases on the Maxtor 40 gig Diamond Plus 7200rpm, I couldn't wait to test it. Here's the test results rounded to the nearest whole MB/sec:




The Maxtor 40g is fast but the Seagate 20g beat it in 2 out of three tests. Obviously, the Maxtor 40g is the better buy at $249 (CompUSA on Feb 27th). Both drives are faster than the Western Digital 20g ATA/66 drive shipped by Apple with certain models of G4 Sawtooth.

Related Link: How about an IDE RAID array using the Maxtor and Seagate?


Additional Observations:
I don't usually publish PEAK transfer rates of drives but it's interesting to note that I observed a peak rate of 49MB/sec on the Maxtor 40g and WD 20g versus 43MB/sec on the Seagate 20g.

Here's a flash for you Yikes owners. I tested the Maxtor and Seagate in a Yikes G4/400 as well as the Sawtooth G4/400 and got identical results. That and the fact that Apple uses an 80 conductor cable in the Yikes leads me to wonder if they use an ATA/66 interface in both models. My theory is that they wanted to make the Sawtooth sound worth the extra dollars initially so they said it had "ATA/33" while the Sawtooth had "ATA/66." Maybe the truth is that they both have the same controller but the Yikes came with an ATA/33 drive (Caviar) and the Sawtooth came standard with an ATA/66 drive (Expert).

The good news for Yikes owners is that your machine with a fast, UltraATA drive, does NOT take back seat to a Sawtooth. As for those of you contemplating a purchase of the current low end model of Sawtooth, you might be tempted to use "build to order" to upgrade your hard drive. Apple charges too much for the drive upgrades and doesn't give you credit for the drive you gave up! It's MUCH cheaper to just take the Caviar option and buy a faster, aftermarket drive like the Maxtor or Seagate. (Some companies will give you a trade-in allowance for the Caviar!)

Just for fun, I tested the Maxtor 40g on a pre-release Ultra ATA/66 PCI controller. It scored slightly higher sustained read/write speeds (25MB and 30MB/sec) in the ATTO benchtest than with the internal Sawtooth ATA/66 controller. Cool.


Reader Comments
READER: "I think you are being paranoid about Apple. There is no "Yikes ATA/33" conspiracy."
ROB ART: "Oh yeah? Well their tech docs say the Yikes' ATA/33 interface has a
'Disk transfer (sustained) rate: 8-12 megabytes (MB) per second.' I've observed sustained rates as high as 29MB/sec.

READER: "Your comparison of SCSI to IDE doesn't take into account that SCSI can handle multiple read/write requests simultaneously while the IDE controller can only handle one at a time."
ROB ART: "I think my test where I duplicate the three large files simultaneously on the same drive or array takes that into account. I already concede that one good Ultra2 SCSI controller is more than a match for two Ultra ATA/IDE controllers."

Test Configurations & Procedures


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© 2000 Rob Art Morgan, editor of BARE FEATS
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