Today we are not going to talk about the noisiness and the heat dissipation of the Deskstar 180GXP, because this is far not the most important thing in this case. It is much more interesting to talk about the benchmarks results.
There used to be times, when testing hard disk drives was a relatively simple task: get the software, run the tests, write down the results and compare them. In most cases low-level benchmarks, such as linear speed and average access time, provided enough information for performance analysis. However, time passed and extensive development of the “physical” parameters didn’t ensure sufficient performance improvement any more. So the manufacturers started searching for other alternative ways to increase the performance of their products. Namely, they taught the HDDs to spend less time on user’s tasks processing, provided them with more intelligence. I will not go into details describing all the tricks the manufacturers resorted to in this respect. I will only say that they did succeed here and now the HDDs performance depends on the linear speed and seek time least of all. You don’t believe me?
Remember when the noise management system aka AAM appeared. Enabling “quiet” mode for IBM DTLA resulted into dramatic worsening of the average access time, however, the results in some more or less real applications didn’t indicate any performance drops. And Maxtor drives a little bit later performed even faster in Quiet mode than they did in the Fast mode! And the linear speed… Check our latest reviews in the Storage section and you will see that linear speed increase usually doesn’t push the performance any higher even in those tests where it seems the most logical: during file copy. The victory belongs to the product, which managed to prove the smartest during a certain task processing. And if we have hard disk drives with the same firmware version, higher data density and hence higher physical speed sometimes provide no advantage at all. This is how we got a few extra tough nuts to crack. But this is just the beginning!
Our today’s test session showed very clearly that HDDs, which seem similar at first glance, are completely different in reality. It would be incorrect to base your opinion of the HDD model on the performance and benchmarks results obtained for another model of the same family, even if the only difference between them is the storage capacity. And when we compare the HDDs of the same storage capacity but coming from different manufacturers, it would be incorrect to draw conclusions about the entire product family from this particular manufacturer: some of them distinguish between the top models and the low-end ones by worsening some of their parameters. The best example here will be lower buffer segmentation in the slower HDD models from WD, Maxtor and IBM, and Seagate U7, which differs from Barracuda V by microcodes, but works just like any other 5400rpm drive. We could recall much more examples, such as reducing the lazy writing efficiency by Maxtor drives or slowing down the track seek. Besides that, the performance of a hard disk drive may change drastically with the introduction of the new firmware version and improvement of the firmware algorithms.