What is the fastest 20 Gig Ultra-ATA/66 drive for under $200?
Updated 12/6/99 with IBM DeskStar 34GXP results. Original results posted 11/18/99
© 1999 Rob Art Morgan, editor of BARE FEATS
Whether you have a Beige G3, Blue and White G3, or Graphite G4, adding or replacing the factory drive can be a cost effective shortcut to speed... especially when you consider how much time your Mac spends reading and writing to the hard drive. As an owner of the recently obsoleted G4 Yikes with ATA/33 drive interface, I wanted to find a drive that would sustain reads and writes at 20MB/second and beyond without paying more than $200.

I had good experiences with Seagate SCSI drives so I was hoping the new Seagate Barracuda 20 gig ATA/66 (ST320430A) drive as screamer. It was selling for $199 at Outpost.Com (free shipping). In this latest iteration of testing, I included the new IBM DeskStar 34GXP 20 gig which comes highly recommended and is selling for $199 at Egghead.



The Seagate Barracuda 20 gig ATA/66 (ST320430A) is still the fastest Ultra-ATA/66 I've tested to date. It really screams, even though the Yikes has an ATA/33 interface. It's even faster than the Western Digital Expert 20 gig ATA/66 running on the G4/450 Sawtooth with its ATA/66 interface. (This would imply that the drives, not the interface, are the limiting factor in speed.)

Other Comments
A warning to those of you buying a G4 minitower with the 10 gig low end drive: If it's the WDC Caviar, it goes almost as fast as the "big dogs" (up to 19MB/sec sustained.) However, Apple also ships machines with the Quantum Fireball CX 10 gig. When I tested that drive, it could only muster 11MB/sec. I pity anyone who ordered a Yikes or Sawtooth and got that drive.

FireWire drives are two to three times more costly than internal IDE drives yet they aren't as fast as the Barracuda and others. Maybe with further driver and controller refinements, they can match or exceed the conventional drives and further justify the added cost for the convenience of external hot-swap-ability.




Test Configurations & Procedures



...VST for the use of the Full Height FireWire drive

...Outpost for letting me buy and then return the IBM Deskstar and Quantum FireBall (I kept the Seagate Barracuda)

...CompUSA Honolulu for letting me buy and then return the Maxtor DiamondMAX

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© 1999 Rob Art Morgan, editor of BARE FEATS
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