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Performance in WinBench 99

For this test we format a 32GB partition on the HDD in FAT or NTFS to achieve more consistent results. The diagrams show the best result out of seven runs of the test.

There are a few HDDs in this review that we tested right after we began to use new testbeds. It turned out later than the driver supplied with the Promise Serial ATA II S150 TX2 controller didn’t provide adequate performance in NTFS, so there are two groups of disks in the diagrams, tested with different drivers. The results of the Business Winstone and High-end Winstone tests are combined in one accumulated diagram as they complement each other.

The Maxtor 7B250S0 boasts a very good performance in the total of the two tests. In its group of disks (tested with the older driver) it is ahead of everyone in the High-end Winmark score, notwithstanding its low linear read/write speeds due to less capacious platters. Equipped with the same platters but with updated electronics, the 6L250S0 is only in the middle of its group while the 6B250S0, with the same electronics but “normal” platters, is faster in both Business and High-end Winmark scores. The third modification of DiamondMax 10 with platters of a still higher capacity is just a little slower than the winner WD2500KS, which outperformed not only the newer WD2500JS but also the two Samsung HDDs thanks to its 16MB buffer. As we found out in the IOMeter tests, the algorithms implemented in the SP2504C and SP2514N differ considerably, but their performance is identical in WinBench, and the model with a Serial ATA interface and NCQ is even a little faster than the SP2514N whereas the Seagate Barracuda 7200.8 and Hitachi Deskstar T7K250 are faster in their ATA than in the Serial ATA + NCQ versions. As you can see, this problem is corrected in the next generation of the Barracudas. Interestingly, the two HDDs with a Serial ATA interface from the server-oriented Maxtor MaXLine series show the worst Business Winmark result.

On an NTFS partition the results of the HDDs differ by 50% when tested with different Promise drivers. That’s the explanation of the phenomenal growth of performance of Hitachi HDDs we noted in an earlier review: in fact, the performance of the Deskstar T7K250 is not more than 10% higher than that of the previous series. The first place is now shared by the WD2500KS and Samsung SP2514N. The WD2500JS and the other Samsung contend for the third place. The Maxtor 6V250F0 has lost four positions and found itself behind the Maxtor 6B250S0. As we noted in the IOMeter section, the third-revision DiamondMax 10 works worse with data blocks smaller than 4KB. The ST3250624AS has got six positions higher, obviously due to its 16MB buffer (because the similar ST3250824AS is the last but one in the table of results). The enlarged buffer doesn’t help much to the other HDDs – the Samsung SP2514N, WD2500JS and SP2504C that occupy the positions from second to fourth are equipped with only 8 megabytes of memory.

So, what can we say about the comparison of the thirty HDDs in two file systems in WinBench? We’ve made sure once again that the linear speed is not the main performance-related factor. It becomes crucial only when other factors such as firmware algorithms are the same. If the HDD has got a lucky combination of look-ahead reading and deferred writing, even the amount of cache memory becomes a matter of secondary importance. Otherwise, the buffer size is a decisive factor, but it cannot help outperform a HDD with more advanced firmware.

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