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Bare Feats asks, "What's Faster In A Hardware RAID 0 Configuration, Two Western Digital WD1200JB's or Two IBM 120GXP's?"

Originally posted March 2nd, 2002
rob ART morgan, Mad Mac Scientist

Okay. The Western Digital Caviar WD1200JB (as in "Jumbo Buffer") was the winner in the single drive tests. But the IBM 120GXP came in second. So what if I put a pair of each in a Hardware Striped Array (RAID 0)? Which of the two brands of drives makes the best setup when using an Acard 6880M HW ATA-133 card?

(I already had a pair of WD1200JB's but thanks to Other World Computing, I now have a pair of IBM 120gxp's.)






It means that if you want the fastest Ultra ATA Hardware RAID setup, the IBM 120GXP's are the way to go.

The 8MB buffer in the WD1200JB (16MB total with dual drive striped array), didn't help it in this test as much as I expected.

If you are considering FireWire RAID, my tests shows it to be only half as fast as Ultra ATA HW RAID.


Have you seen the "333 hours per month" spec 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. As you can see above, 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.



I installed the latest firmware/driver update 1.2 for the Acard 6880M HW RAID card but the QuickSilver Dual G4/800 still does NOT go into Deep Sleep under OS X. It will under OS 9. You can be sure I'll be bugging Acard about it.



MacWorld compares four different Hardware ATA-133 RAID cards. (Pssst. They are all made by Acard but have different prices, warranty and support.) They rated SIIG the best with 5 year warranty and lowest price. I've seen them as low as $132.

Bare Feats has a report on the fastest Ultra ATA drives including the WD1200JB and IBM 120GXP.

Bare Feats did an experiment that identified how much speed you lose as the drive fills up.

Storage Review has a recent test of the WD1200JB.

Read Bare Feats' report FireWire RAID versus SW & HW ATA RAID on the Mac.



The test "mule" was the Apple Power Mac G4/800MP.

The Hardware RAID PCI controller card used was The Acard AEC-6880M True Hardware RAID Ultra ATA-133.

The hard drives used included:
Two Western Digital
Caviar WD1200JB (120GB, 7200rpm, 8MB buffer)
Two IBM 120GXP (120GB, 7200rpm, 2MB buffer) -- courtesy of
Other World Computing


QuickBench, a handy benchmarking tool from
Intech (the creators of HD Speed Tools), was used to measured sustained WRITE speed using 10MB blocks. This is useful for those of you choosing a drive for Video or Audio capture.

For the real world test, I used the pak0.pak3 file from Quake 3 which is 457MB in size. By duplicating this file on a drive, it forces it to read and write to itself simultaneously. It's also big enough that it should defeat the advantage of any large drive buffer. I calculate the megabytes/second transfer speed by the formula SIZE * 2 / TIME.



Other World Computing has all three sizes of IBM 120GXP's in stock. They charge a little more than the cut rate PC sites but I encourage you to support this Mac vendor as best you can.

Another Mac vendor to support is Trans International.

If you are shopping bottom dollar, I have to admit that GoogleGear.com and NewEgg.com usually have the lowest price on bare drives. Just search on "120gxp" or "WD1200JB."

The Acard AEC-6880M True Hardware RAID Ultra ATA-133 card is available from Other World Computing. Sonnet Technology is selling it under their label as the Tempo RAID133. An alert reader found the same card with the SIIG label on TheNerds.Net for $132. (Search on the catalog number: 989889) Same card and uses same firmware.

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


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