This review covering rather old products and also being a kind of a final performance for Maxtor, we won’t make our traditional conclusion about the preferable application of each product. Instead, we’ll point at the strong and weak points of HDDs from different brands, some of which are already corrected in the newer models and some are not.
The Hitachi Deskstar 7K250 proved to be among the slowest HDDs in all of the parameters, save for the average seek time. As a result, they only delivered a higher-than-average performance in IOMeter’s Web-server pattern. The Deskstar T7K250 series is faster in every test, except for IOMeter and PCMark, but its performance is only really better in the multi-threaded reading. The speed achieved is, however, far from the record-breaking performance of the Maxtor DiamondMax 10 and inferior to the results of Samsung’s ATA-interfaced models and to the WD2500KS/SD. The speed of writing is rather low with medium and large files, and Native Command Queuing often lowers the performance to the level of the previous Deskstar generation.
The 6B250S0, i.e. the first-revision DiamondMax 10, looks like the leader among the Maxtor drives we tested. It doesn’t have obvious drawbacks while its implementation of NCQ is just amazing. Unfortunately, the later modifications of DiamondMax 10 are worse in many parameters, especially when processing lots of small files.
The two Samsung SpinPoint P120 drives with different interfaces often had absolutely different results in our tests. The SP2514N would mostly fight for top places and even had no rivals at writing, reading and copying small files, but the SP2504C is rarely higher than the middle of the table of results. Perhaps we had a defective sample, yet we are quite sure that Samsung couldn’t keep the strong points of its products, but spoiled multi-threaded reading if not something else when attempting to introduce Native Command Queuing into its products. The odd behavior in IOMeter’s sequential reading tests was continued in FC-Test where the SP2514N easily won the Windows and Programs patterns. Samsung seems to have developed very efficient caching algorithms.
The comparison of the two Barracuda generations doesn’t reveal Seagate’s work on improving a specific parameter of its products. The ST3250823A is often faster than the ST320824A, but the ST3250823AS is often slower (this may be due to different NCQ implementations). The models with a 16MB buffer seem to belong to a completely different family. Failing in the File-Server and Database patterns, they are very good at copying large files. The obvious drawback of all generations of Barracudas is the significant difference in performance between ATA and Serial ATA models. The former can only leave the last places when copying files from one partition to another.
Finally, Western Digital’s Caviar drives of various modifications surprised us with their stable results, clever optimizations of firmware, and a good speed in such an inconvenient test as reading two disk areas alternately. The WD2500KS won in WinBench 99 and PCMark’04 thanks to its 16MB buffer, and the WВ2500JS was the leader in IOMeter’s Workstation and File-Server patterns, but both had certain problems in FC-Test. The other models had similar results, showing themselves as sturdy mainstream products.
So, each manufacturer has got a lot of work to do yet. In the next part of our comparison of 250GB HDDs we’ll examine modern products from the surviving manufacturers. It’s going to be a very hot competition!