We took a look at four drives, from the four main US manufacturers. (Note that IBM will be transitioning its desktop storage business to Hitachi in 2003). All these drives offer 60GB or more per platter. Three of the drives ship with three platters, though Seagates Barracuda V ATA maxes out at two platters. Note that the focus here is on 7200RPM drives, so we didnt look at drives with even larger capacities, since those are all 5400RPM drives.
Lets take a look at how the manufacturers rate their drives.
Maxtor DiamondMax Plus 9
Western Digital WD2000JB
IBM Deskstar 180GXP
Seagate Barracuda V ATA
Formatted Capacity (GB)
Capacity per platter
Number of platters
Number of heads
Areal Density (gigabits/sq. in.)
Average Seek (read)
Seek (track-to-track, read)
Rotational Speed (RPM)
Average Rotational Latency
Burst speed (megabytes/sec)
Buffer size (KB)
Maximum Transfer Rate off Drive Surface (outermost track zone) (Mbits / sec)
Track Density (Tracks per inch)
3 years (Special Edition w/8MB cache); 2MB cache versions only 1 year
3 years (8MB cache products); 2MB cache versions only 1 year
All these drives now come in configurations with 8MB of cache, which offers some additional performance over the more common 2MB buffers. Only the Maxtor offers support for the ATA133 interface-- most drive companies are waiting for Serial ATA to make the shift to higher speed interfaces.
Now that weve seen the manufacturers own specs, lets move on to our testing.
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.