In this age of 10 gig per platter, 7200rpm disks, everyone's attention remains fixed on Maxtor's ever-popular DiamondMax Plus 40. First reviewed here at StorageReview.com over four months ago, the Plus 40 has enjoyed a long reign of popularity. Challengers coming from Western Digital and Seagate weren't quite speedy enough to dethrone the Maxtor drive from its coveted position. Quantum is the next to deliver its contender, the Fireball Plus LM.
Nearly a year ago, Quantum delivered its first 7200rpm ATA disk, the Fireball Plus KA. The KA was most notable for its competitive seek time. Specifications-wise, the unit was the first ATA drive to plumb the depths of sub-nine millisecond seek times. Measurements, though, painted an even rosier picture. Here we found the KA to boast an access time that not only handily beat its specs, but also one that matched some of the fastest SCSI disks around. Quantum followed up with the Fireball Plus KX, a higher-density drive whose access time clocked in a hair higher. Now the company's third-generation 7200rpm disk has entered the marketplace. How does it stack up?
On paper, the Fireball Plus LM is faster than the competition. Though it features the same 7200rpm spindle speed and 10.2 gig/platter areal density offered by the competition's current products, it's seek time that allows the Plus LM to step forward. At 8.5 milliseconds, only Seagate's Barracuda ATA II claims a faster spec. The LM is also notable as Quantum's first ATA drive to make the leap to the now standard 2 megs of buffer. The drive is available in configurations of up to three platters, yielding a flagship capacity of 30 gigabytes. A three-year warranty protects the drive.
The Fireball Plus LM is the first ATA drive to receive an individual review following the rollout of our new testbed. As a result, we're providing figures collected on both the new and old systems. We'll continue to do so for an interim period before phasing out the old testbed entirely.