Seagate, Quantum, and Maxtor are the three primary manufacturers charging into the fray in the budget hard disk battle. The latter managed to trump the other two by releasing a budget drive that featured 10.2 gigs per platter, a step beyond Seagate and Quantum's 8.6 gig/platter offerings. Quantum, however, has finally shipped a response in the Fireball lct10.
A drive aimed at integration in entry-level systems, the Fireball lct10 is, of course, a 5400rpm unit. Like the Maxtor DiamondMax VL20, the lct10 features 10.2 gigs per platter. Interestingly, Quantum equips the top-line lct10 with 3 platter rather than Maxtor's two, resulting in a rather large (for those on a budget, at any rate) 30 gig capacity. Maxtor, it seems, has to juggle two 5400rpm lines. Its regular DiamondMax line, featuring up to 4 platters and highly tweaked performance, and its DiamondMax VL series, featuring lesser performance and a maximum of two platters. Quantum, on the other hand, seems to have relegated 5400rpm progress to the value arena. Thus, like previous 5400rpm Fireball drives, the lct10 delivers that 3-platter, 30 gig design. A 9.5 millisecond seek time and 512k buffer complete the package. The lct10 features a value-class one year warranty.
Though the lct10 features Quantum-developed alphabet soup (SPS II, DPS) implemented to improve reliability, the units most interesting aspect is Quantum's "Quiet Drive Technology." Through reduction of vibration and resonance, Quantum claims to have developed the quietest drive around. Definitely a plus in a market where performance isn't the end-all of the equation.
As we've done with all other ATA-66 drives, the Fireball lct10 was tested using Promise's Ultra66 controller. This ATA-66 Fireball does not work properly with our old-bios (kept old to control variables) LX-based motherboard. Though this shouldn't be an issue with most motherboards these days, Quantum provides a utility to force the drive into ATA-33 operation. No loss of performance would occur should this be necessary. Need proof? Check out the URL cited at the bottom of the Fireball lct's Press Kit.