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Performance in PCMark Vantage

Compared with the previous versions, the Vantage version of PCMark is more up-to-date and advanced in its selection of subtests as well as Windows Vista orientation. Each subtest runs ten times and the results of the ten runs are averaged.

Here is a brief description of each subtest:

  • Windows Defender produces multithreaded load, one thread scanning files for malicious software.
  • Gaming emulates the typical load on the disk subsystem when the user is playing a video game.
  • Photo Gallery emulates loading of images from a photo gallery.
  • Vista Start Up emulates the disk subsystem load when booting up Windows Vista.
  • Movie Maker emulates video editing load.
  • Media Center. This is the load on the hard disk when the user is running Windows Media Center.
  • Media Player emulates the loading of files into Windows Media Player.
  • Application Loading shows the drive’s speed when loading popular applications.

Basing on these subtests, the drive’s overall performance rating is calculated.

The high-capacity HDDs from Western Digital are unrivalled as disks for home computers. High-density platters, fast read/write heads and a large amount of cache together with clever algorithms of using it are the factors that make them preferable to their opponents. Interestingly, we see the WD Caviar Blue in the top three. It is a little bit better than the same-capacity Black series models (among which the older model enjoys an advantage over the new ones, by the way). So, Western Digital seems to have some problems with positioning its midrange products. We have a feeling that the Blue disk differs from the Black ones in the color of the label only!

Among WD’s other products, the updated Green model is surprisingly slower than its predecessor. Hitachi’s new firmware is better than the older version. The Samsung drives show the negative effect of 4KB sectors on performance: the Samsung EcoGreen F4EG is but slightly ahead of its predecessor although we might have expected better results from its high-density platters. Its nonaligned version is even slower, of course, yet not as slow as the WD AV-GP. We had not expected any wonders from that HDD which is optimized for audio/video equipment. Its purpose is to work quietly and cope with multithreaded load well, and the WD AV-GP does exactly that. Still, its low performance is quite illustrative of what you can expect from an HDD with low-speed platters, slow read/write heads and 4KB sectors.

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