A more interesting comparison arises when contrasting the Cheetah 18LP AV with the original Cheetah 18LP
. Regular SR readers may recall an article we published last year comparing a Maxtor DiamondMax Plus 5120 featuring a 512k buffer with the same drive featuring 1 meg of cache
. The differences proved to be negligible.
Such is not the case, however, when it comes to the 18LP AV vs. the original 18LP (at least according to WinBench). Here we find that though both drives share identical low-level measurements, the 18LP AV displays substantial improvements when it comes to the higher-level WinMarks.
The Business Disk WinMark 99 run in either Windows 95 or NT 4.0 places the 18LP AV ahead of the 18LP by margins of 7%-9%. High-End Disk WinMark differences are also pronounced, the 18LP AV being just 4% faster in NT but a substantial 12% swifter in Win95.
The question is begged: What's different in this situation that creates these noticeable differences when no such distinction could be made with the DiamondMax Plus tests? Here's a list to chew on:
- 2x difference between the DiamondMaxes; 4x difference between the Cheetahs
- ATA DiamondMaxes; SCSI Cheetahs (we don't believe this would be a factor, however)
- The DiamondMaxes had the same interfaces, both being ATA-33; the Cheetahs differ with the 18LP featuring an Ultra2 interface while the 18LP AV is an Ultra160/m drive
- Firmware unchanged in the larger-buffer DiamondMax; Firmware specifically tweaked in the 18LP AV to take advantage of the larger buffer?
We're not exactly clear why Seagate re-released the 18LP AV in a 160/m configuration. We've heard some rumors that the 18XL/36LP series experienced delays and thus the 160/m 18LP AV was forced to hold over performance-oriented users. More likely, however, is that Seagate still has quite a few 3 gig platters left over from last generation. So, instead of selling users the same old drive simply because the parts are lying around, why not at least update the interface to something more current? This looks like the path Seagate chose.
At any rate, the competent performance that this year-old design turns in once again goes to show that sequential transfer rate is relatively unimportant in the majority of everyday applications. In most cases (IOMeter, WinBench 99 Business Tests), the 18LP AV keeps right up with the newer 36LP. Thus, the Cheetah 18LP AV may very well be a contender for performance-oriented users especially if the price is favorable compared to current generation models.