Articles: Storage

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Testbed and Methods

Our test system was configured as follows:

  • Albatron PX865PE Pro II mainboard;
  • Intel Pentium 4 2.4GHz CPU;
  • IBM DTLA-307015 15GB system HDD;
  • Radeon 7000 32MB graphics card;
  • 256MB PC2700 DDR SDRAM;
  • Promise Ultra133 TX2 controller;
  • Microsoft Windows XP Pro SP1.

The major difference between the testbed we used for PCMark04 and our standard testbed, which we use for most of our storage solutions reviews is the Windows XP operation system. Unfortunately, we had to break our principle: not to use Windows operation systems until SP2 comes out. Otherwise, we would be unable to run PCMark04… The thing is that the disk subsystem benchmarks of the PCMark04 set work only in WinXP (which is pretty strange, as RankDisk should work fine in any NT-like operation systems).

Not so long ago Futuremark released a patch to PCMark04 (build 110) and among the changes introduced in it we can see the so long-awaited line saying: "Hard Disk Tests now work also on Windows 2000". So, I would say that all our complaints about the inability of this benchmark to work in Win2000 have become somewhat outdated. In the ongoing articles we will try to figure out how adequate the results obtained in Win2000 and WinXP are.

We used four “coolest” IDE hard disk drives for our tests, because the quality of the testing software should be best checked with the most advanced drives. Therefore, I took a 250GB Maxtor MaxLine (7Y250P0), WD2500JB and two Hitachi drives - HDS722525VLAT80 and IC35L180AVV207-1. As you may have noticed, the latter differs from the previous three models by its storage capacity. Besides, it belongs to the previous generation HDDs (60GB platters). However, the cache buffer of all drives equals the same 8MB. That is why we will be able to compare the performance of three 250GB HDDs from different manufacturers, and see how greatly the results differ from what we have obtained before (see our article called 7200rpm Hard Disk Drives Roundup: Major League). And secondly, we will get a perfect chance to compare the performance of two Hitachi HDDs representing two latest product generations from this manufacturer.

To test the hard disk drives we created a 32GB partition on each of them and formatted it in NTFS and FAT32 (I decided to stick to the methodology suggested by the benchmark developers and check the HDD performance on formatted drives). The results obtained showed that the benchmark is indifferent to the type of the used file system of the tested drive (which I have actually expected taking into account the testing methodology). Therefore, I will provide only one set of results in the ongoing performance analysis: those obtained in NTFS file system.

To investigate the repeated PCMark04 results we carried out a series of 10 tests. The HDD was defragmented between the tests, then we restarted the system and when the boot-up was complete we waited for five minutes before the test session started. We undertook all these measures to reduce the influence of the operation system on the benchmark results.

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