Register to win a 20GB iPod at




LINKS to SPEED tests on other sites

HOT DEALS on speed upgrades

rob-ART morgan,
mad scientist and webmaster




MacGurus - one stop speed shop
MacGurus -- "One Stop Shop For Upgrades" has cutting edge hard drives and memory upgrades.


Has Bare Feats helped you? Say "thanks"... with a donation.

Toshiba's New "GAX" 2.5 Inch Drive Features 5400RPM and 16MB Buffer. Does It Beat Up On The IBM 40GNX?

by rob-ART, mad scientist
Posted 8/1/02
Big Mahalo to
Trans International for getting the drives to me as early as possible.

I was beginning to wonder if the Toshiba MK4019GAX drive (5400rpm, 16MB buffer, 9.5mm thin) was for real. Especially when it disappeared from their website a few weeks ago. Well it's back and ready to ship. Now that I have a test unit, the big questions is, "How does it compare to the IBM Travelstar 40GNX (5400rpm, 8MB buffer, 9.5mm thin)?" And how does it compare to the two other fastest notebook drives before these two new ones appeared?

This first test is fun. I give Photoshop 36MB of application space. Then I load up a 45MB document and rotate it 30 degrees. This forces Photoshop to use the scratch disk, which is the test drive in this case.



My next "real world stress test" is to tell QuickTime Player to playback every frame of a 5 second movie (177MB) as fast as it can.


One of the "meanest" things to do to a drive is to make it READ from and WRITE to itself all at the same time.


Intech's QuickBench X, although it's a benchmarking tool, is useful to comparing how fast each drive can handle small random reads and writes.


The IBM's 8MB of cache is efficient right up to the point where it overflows. Meanwhile, the Toshiba seems to have "forgotten" that it has any cache.


I have a specially modified version of QuickBench X that lets me test the drives with up to 100MB blocks so that neither drive's cache can help it. In this test, you can see the Toshiba GAX edges out the IBM GNX.



The Toshiba "GAX" with its 16MB cache is no slouch, but it only gets a silver medal. The IBM GNX retains the gold medal as the fastest "portable" (2.5 inch) hard drive.

Caveat: all tests were run with the drives installed in an Oxford 911 FireWire case kit (Cutie from FWDepot). When time and opportunity permits, I will test both "winning" drives inside both a Pismo and a TiBook, but don't expect the results to be significantly different. Although, I've seen a case where the internal Ultra ATA interface was able to utilize the drive's cache more effectively than the FireWire bridge.

An interesting alternative to using these two drives in external FireWire cases is to get a Wiebetech SuperDock and a fast IBM Deskstar 120GXP 3.5 inch 7200rpm drive. It's faster and it runs off of FireWire bus power. Uh huh.



Either the "GNX" or the "GAX" would be a good choice.

If maximum storage is required, the 60GH is a viable option.

Trans International carries all three drives at reasonable prices.



  • Toshiba MK4019GAX 40GB 5400rpm 9.5mm thick, 16MB cache
  • IBM Travelstar 40GNX 40GB 5400rpm 9.5mm thick, 8MB cache
  • IBM Travelstar 60GH 60GB 5400rpm 12.5mm thick, 2MB cache
  • Toshiba MK4018GAP 40GB 4200rpm 9.5mm thick, 2MB cache

Tests were conducted using a combination of "real world" tests and Intech's QuickBench X. Test "mule" was a Titanium G4/800 PowerBook. The test drives were installed in a FWDepot "Cutie" FireWire case kit.

© 2002 Rob Art Morgan
"BARE facts on Macintosh speed FEATS"
Email webmaster at

(Bare Feats is hosted on a G4 Power Mac server by