We assume that the unit folks want to see the Barracuda ATA II contrasted against is the Maxtor DiamondMax Plus 40. We're amazed with the incredible race to obtain the new Maxtor drive outlined in usenet newsgroups as well as StorageReview.com's own Discussion Forums. Does the 'Cuda 2 change our choice?
Low level results taken from the new Seagate compare very favorably against the Plus 40. We measured a maximum sequential transfer rate in the outer zone of 29.6 MB/sec, a figure just a hair slower than the Maxtor's 30.2 MB/sec. Access time, however, clocks in at 12.8 milliseconds, a full 1.4ms below the figure turned in by the Plus 40 (remember, lower is better when it comes to access time). Let's take a look at how these figures translate into higher-level performance.
In Windows 9x, the 'Cuda 2 is every bit the equal of the Plus 40. The Business Disk WinMark places the Barracuda ahead of the DiamondMax by a negligible margin of 1%. An even larger statistical coincidence occurs in the High-End Disk WinMark, where both drives clock in at exactly 13,933 KB/sec.
It's in Maxtor's traditional favorite playground, Windows NT, that the Plus 40 breaks loose. Here the Seagate drive trails the Maxtor offering by about 5% in both Business and High-End tests. Though still very close, it's a more significant difference than measured in Win9x. ThreadMark tests exhibit a bit more of a gap, measuring out the Barracuda 8%-12% below the DiamondMax.
The subjective noise level of the 'Cuda 2 was slightly higher than that of the Maxtor Plus 40. Though idle noise was the same (i.e., drowned out by power supply fan noise), the Seagate's seeks were just a wee bit louder. The drive is, however, still quiet enough to please all but the most demanding of users. Noise is certainly one area where the 'Cuda ATA series doesn't follow in the venerable SCSI line's footsteps. As a two platter drive, our evaluation unit ran cool to the touch.
Overall, the Seagate Barracuda ATA II isn't quite the DiamondMax-toppler that some may have hoped. Even so, it does provide exceptional performance in Windows 9x with NT performance that also is nothing to sneeze at. The flagship unit of the series utilizes only three platters, and thus can't match the 40 gig capacity of the top-end Maxtor. But if you're looking for a drive 30 gigs in size or less, and can't find Maxtor's drives, the 'Cuda 2 is a viable option.