A Pair of Very Different Hard Drives

By Loyd Case  |  Posted 2003-07-02 Print this article Print

Review: Maxtor opts for quantity; Western Digital aims for high performance systems. ExtremeTech tested the heck out of them, and found that performance may be found in surprising places. But what about the cost?

Serial ATA Approaches Mainstream
We last examined Serial ATA drive technology when we took a look at ("the Seagate 120GB SATA drive") back in January. SATA drives trickled onto the market in the past few months, but the floodgates are starting to open. In this review, we look at a pair of drives that are targeted for distinctly different markets. Of the two, the Maxtor DiamondMax Plus 9 200GB SATA drive is the more traditional desktop drive. Although it does sport a Serial ATA port and SATA-style power connector, the drive also retains a standard Molex-style, four-pin power connector -- no power adapter needed.
The DiamondMax Plus 9 is the same mechanism as the parallel ATA version we ("reviewed last December"). That, coupled with Intels new 865PE chipset, allowed us to test the parallel ATA version alongside the SATA version to see if there are any performance differences due to the interface. The 865PE chipset uses Intels latest ICH5 I/O controller hub, which natively supports both SATA and parallel ATA interfaces.
The Western Digital WD360 is a new kind of beast. Its built using enterprise-class manufacturing technologies. Although its a single-platter drive, it weighs in at a hefty 1.60 pounds (730 grams) versus the 1.27 pounds (630 grams) of the three platter Maxtor drive. The WDC360 also uses a 3-inch platter, versus the 3.5-inch platter diameter of most desktop drives. Finally, the WDC360 ships in only one version: a single platter, two-head drive with a rated 5.2ms average seek time. For the full story click here
Loyd Case came to computing by way of physical chemistry. He began modestly on a DEC PDP-11 by learning the intricacies of the TROFF text formatter while working on his master's thesis. After a brief, painful stint as an analytical chemist, he took over a laboratory network at Lockheed in the early 80's and never looked back. His first 'real' computer was an HP 1000 RTE-6/VM system.

In 1988, he figured out that building his own PC was vastly more interesting than buying off-the-shelf systems ad he ditched his aging Compaq portable. The Sony 3.5-inch floppy drive from his first homebrew rig is still running today. Since then, he's done some programming, been a systems engineer for Hewlett-Packard, worked in technical marketing in the workstation biz, and even dabbled in 3-D modeling and Web design during the Web's early years.

Loyd was also bitten by the writing bug at a very early age, and even has dim memories of reading his creative efforts to his third grade class. Later, he wrote for various user group magazines, culminating in a near-career ending incident at his employer when a humor-impaired senior manager took exception at one of his more flippant efforts. In 1994, Loyd took on the task of writing the first roundup of PC graphics cards for Computer Gaming World -- the first ever written specifically for computer gamers. A year later, Mike Weksler, then tech editor at Computer Gaming World, twisted his arm and forced him to start writing CGW's tech column. The gaming world -- and Loyd -- has never quite recovered despite repeated efforts to find a normal job. Now he's busy with the whole fatherhood thing, working hard to turn his two daughters into avid gamers. When he doesn't have his head buried inside a PC, he dabbles in downhill skiing, military history and home theater.

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