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News, Innovations, and Performance in WinBench

Against our tradition, I am going to begin this review with WinBench rather than IOMeter. Why? To explain our choice of the participating drives. The fact is the good old WinBench revealed a kind of anomaly that made us test more drives and even use more Serial ATA controllers! To be exact, we got unexpected results, rechecked and verified them for long, but didn’t find our mistake: the Serial ATA models had become faster! But let’s talk about that at the end of this section, after the analysis of the results.

Starting from this review, we will be doing our WinBench tests not on the entire capacity of the drive but rather on a single 32GB partition to put all the tested drives under the same conditions. The problem is that the size of the MFT or FAT is directly proportional to the capacity of the disc and becomes too big at such huge partitions as with the drives we are testing today (370GB!), leading to an undesirable growth of the overhead and measurement error range.

WinBench 99 results (click here to check out the table)

This review also differs from the earlier reviews of hard drives you’ve read on our site in the look of the diagrams. And I ask for your opinion if we should use such diagrams in our future reviews, too. The point of our innovation is putting both NTFS and FAT32 data into a single column of the diagram. Thus, the total number of pictures is reduced in double, without worsening their look (at least, they don’t look any worse for me).

Most WinBench subtests are highly sensitive to the capacity of the tested hard disk. The bigger the disc, the better results it achieves. That’s why I threw a HDS722516VLAT80 model into the fight. It is as many times smaller relative to the HDS722525VLAT80 as this latter is smaller relative to the Deskstar 7K400. Business Winstone didn’t become an exception this time around: the results of the 400GB model by far surpass the numbers of the previous models in both file systems.

The change of the controller leads to a sudden increase of performance in NTFS, but also to a small performance hit in FAT32. It’s normal since Business Winmark has always been fastidious about the controller, or rather about the controller’s driver. The different drivers account for the difference between the ATA and Serial ATA models in this case, as the results of the ATA model on the Promise SATA150 TX2plus, a nominally Serial ATA controller, prove (this controller has one classic ATA channel).

You can also see that the Serial ATA 7K400 model is slower than its ATA mate. This shouldn’t disturb us at all because the drive has to communicate with the system through an interpreter – the serializer chip.

The priorities of the Advanced Visualization Studio test are the drive’s linear speed and effective look-ahead reading. It is here that we see first signs of the revelation. The first UltraATA/133 model from Hitachi doesn’t work with the ATA/133 Promise Ultra133 TX2 controller confidently, while the Serial ATA version outperforms the ATA analog! The gap is small and is only observed in NTFS, but that’s only the beginning.

To make sure the controllers are blameless here, and we do see a difference between the generations of hard drives, we add the results of the Deskstar 7K400 and 7K250 on the ICH5 and on the Promise SATA150 TX2 controller, respectively. The latter pair isn’t impressive whereas the model of the Serial ATA controller doesn’t affect the performance of the Deskstar 7K400 much.

This time FrontPage produced a surprisingly clear picture that seems to need no comments at all (the reduction of the partition size to 32 gigabytes must have helped here). The only thing you may want to mark is the sudden failure of the Serial ATA controller integrated into the ICH5.

There are no sensations in MicroStation: the Promise SATA150 TX2 and the chipset’s Serial ATA controller are much faster than the Promise Ultra133 TX2 in NTFS. But this is only true for the Deskstar 7K400. The Serial ATA controllers give no advantages to the previous drive model.

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