As the first of its generation, the Atlas V currently can be contrasted only against last year's drives. Compared to the Atlas IV, StorageReview.com's current 7200rpm SCSI champion, the Atlas V shows an improvement in both measured access times
and measured transfer rates. Accesses clocked in about 7% faster, registering an average of 10.7 milliseconds. And, as one would expect, the Atlas V's vast increase in areal density results in a transfer rate significantly higher, 37%, than its predecessor.
WinBench 99's higher level tests show marked difference between the two disks. Scores from the Business Disk WinMark run under Windows 95 place the Atlas V 17% head of its predecessor. The High-End Disk Winmark yielded an even greater 19% improvement. In Windows NT, the performance gap between the units shrank to 9% according to Business tests. The gap in the high-end test, however, increased to a substantial 21%.
Due to its high-sensitivity to improved sequential transfer rates, ThreadMark 2.0 displays massive performance increases when comparing the two Atlas drives. Here the fifth-generation unit blasts past the fourth-generation by margins of 46% and 44% respectively in Windows 95 and Windows NT.
The Atlas V's noise-levels are commendable. No perceptible idle noise can be heard over our testbed's power-supply fan. When thrashing, the drives seeks are certainly audible (SCSI drives still haven't reached the muted levels of their ATA counterparts), yet nowhere near the drives of old. The disk runs warm to the touch; though it may need active cooling in a smaller, cramped case, it can run without such measures in more roomy configurations.
In conclusion, the Quantum Atlas V represents a competent improvement over its predecessor. Improved scores across the board combined with heat and noise levels no worse than the Atlas IV allow it to displace the latter drive as the current 7200rpm SCSI StorageReview.com leaderboard champ. The Atlas V faces some interesting competition in the near future, however, in Seagate's Barracuda 18XL. Though its flagship model features only 18 gigs of space (the 10k rpm Cheetah seems to have been phased in as the manufacturer's mainstream offering, thus usurping "current" capacity levels), the newest Barracuda uses smaller-diameter platters to shave a bit off of its specified seek times. Can the Atlas V stave off the performance improvements that the Barracuda 18XL promises? We look forward to finding out!