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The third installment of our investigation of speed characteristics of same-size hard disk drives reached the point of 160GB storage capacity.

Our roundups of 80GB and 120GB devices may have already helped you in your shopping for a drive to use in your own system and this review is of less interest to you but still, although we have the same gang of manufacturers and well-known drive models, this 160GB HDD roundup is going to be different in several respects.

First, we test and compare 160GB devices, and this means you won’t see old models anymore, and in its turn it means we can expect a tougher competition here. Second, we start investigating devices of the same model, but with different firmware versions. This is going to spice up the review, that’s sure. Third, to hit the magic number “21” we added two drives of 180GB capacity into the show (we only found two 180GB devices for our test lab, so there was no sense in picking them out into a separate review).

Regardless of the impressive participation, we should make a reservation that this roundup is far from being a “full and comprehensive review of all possible drives from any possible point of view”. It is not because we are overmodest but rather that we are perfectly aware that our tests are only indicative of the speed characteristics of the drives, and only in the benchmarks we use.

We don’t measure the temperature of hard disk drives. Alas, our attempts to find any logic in those temperatures the drives report through SMART were a fiasco. Yes, all drives now report their temperature, but the problem is that the manufacturers put the thermal diode in different locations. Thus, the reported temperature differs considerably between manufacturers and cannot of course be used to compare the thermal characteristics of different drives. Right now we’re returning to the traditional and simple method of measuring the temperature of HDDs with an infrared thermometer, but time is required to gather some statistics.

We don’t also measure the noise the drives produce at work. There’s no sense in doing this with a simple audio-noise meter in a system case with a Pentium 4 (and an appropriate cooler) inside, while a good methodology of measuring noise requires both special equipment and special knowledge, which we don’t have right now.

If you’re still with us after so long an introduction, let’s muster the participants of our today’s tests.

 
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