BARE FEATS - real world Mac speed tests

Western Digital Blows Away The Competition With Their Special Edition WD1200JB ("Jumbo Buffer") ATA-100 Drive.

January 25th, 2002
Updated 2/2/02 with WD1200BB results (2MB buffer) - as opposed to WD1200JB (8MB buffer) and with some different tests
rob ART morgan, Bare Feats Mad Scientist

Last week, I was singing the praises of the new IBM Deskstar 120GXP. Then I got an email from a loyal reader pointing out that I had overlooked Western Digital's newest 120GB 7200rpm ATA-100 Special Edition drive, the Caviar WD1200JB (JB=Jumbo Buffer = 8MB). So here it is... fasten your seat belts and extinguish all smoking materials....











Holy Moly! The Caviar WD1200JB smokes every hard drive I've tested to date including the Cheetah Ultra160 15,000 rpm drive.... especially in the write tests. (Notice I've including the version of the Caviar with the 2MB buffer. There is a definite advantage to the 8MB buffer... at least on an ATA interface.)

If you want to see the results of TWO of them in a striped RAID 0 array, check out my "THREE WAY RAID" page (FireWire RAID, Ultra ATA hardware RAID, Ultra ATA software RAID).

For results on using a single WD1200JB (and WD1200BB) in a FireWire case, check out my "FAST FIRE" page. (Note that the 8MB buffer has little advantage in a FireWire case.)



Storage Review posted their review of the WD1200JB.

The 160GB Maxtor D740X is also tested by SR.



IBM lists "333 hours per month" as one of the specs on the IBM 120GXP drives. It implies that you can't use the drive more than 11 hours per day or it will go "kapoot." Well according to an IBM spokesperson, that's not the case:

"The 333 power-on hours (POH) defined in the 120GXP data sheet is not a new spec for our GXP drives; it is consistent with what we've held our desktop drives to in previous generation drives. The 333 power-on spec is not an indication of a maximum number of power-on hours or limitation of the Deskstar 120GXP.

Our specifications indicate that the 333 power-on hours per month represent typical desktop PC usage. This assumes an 11-hour day based on a 30 day month. Users can and have successfully run the drive more than 11 hours a day and 333 hours per month; the drives have been used successfully in 24x7 environments.

IBM stands by the 3-year warranty for the 120GXP. Power-on hours will not be a determining factor in negating the warranty."

BOTTOM LINE: Use the heck out of your 120gxp. If it goes kapoot, IBM will replace it no matter how many hours a day or month you use it. I've got four of them. My favorite feature: they are faster than the legendary WD1200JB drives when used in a striped RAID. And, according to one reader, drop less frames than the WD1200JB when used for digital video production.



2/23/02 -- I found the best price on the Western Digital WD1200JB 120GB 8MB buffer and the IBM 120GXP 120GB. Get them for $256 each at Trans International. Click the drop down "lowest Deals" menu on this page.

2/24/02 -- FLASH: now has the WD1200JB 120GB "Special Edition" 8MB buffer for $234 (search on "WD1200JB").

Another good source for bare drives is Other World Computing. They also carry the Sonnet Tempo ATA-100 PCI card.

See the STORAGE section of my HOT DEALS page for more good sources of the products tested on this page.  



The test "mule" was an Apple 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).


Sonnet Technology Tempo ATA-100 PCI card

TEST ATA-100 DRIVES (all 7200rpm):

I've grown increasingly fond of a benchmark utility called QuickBench. For one thing, it's the only benchmark that uses a block size larger than the 8MB buffer of the WD1200JB, so the effects of caching is all but eliminated. Their 10MB block transfer measures the drive's sustained transfer rate, as well as the driver's efficiency at handling large transfers. This is useful information for anyone doing video or audio capture and/or playback.

Their small random reads and writes factor in seek time, but factor out caching and overall throughput. For most users, this is the performance that counts on a day to day basis.

Then there's my old favorite: DUPLICATE a large document. It forces a drive to read and write to itself at the same time. Drives are getting so fast these days that I had to come up with a bigger file. So starting with this page, I'm going to start using a 457MB document... you know... the pak0.pak3 file that you need to run Quake3. That's almost a half of a gig. That will keep the drive busy a for at least a few seconds.

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© 1995-2007 Rob Art Morgan
"BARE facts on Macintosh speed FEATS"
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