The lower access time of Maxtor's DiamondMax 60
gives it a considerable advantage over the WD450AA in Linear
and Very Light
loads when it comes to Workstation
performance. Under such conditions, we find the WD drive trailing the Maxtor by about 7%.
Under any heavier load, however, firmware optimizations start to muddy the picture. Light, Medium and Heavy scenarios all suggest virtually equal performance, with the WD actually pulling ahead by a negligible amount under Medium loads. Thus, for most purposes, IOMeter concurs with WinBench 99, placing the two drives on practically equal grounds.
We should take a moment to note that neither the WD or the Maxtor can deliver the performance scored by Quantum's "value-class" Fireball lct10. Of course, a converse scenario is also true... the Fireball doesn't score nearly as well as the WD and Maxtor in WinBench. It should, of course, be clear to readers that we heavily favor IOMeter due to WinBench 99's advancing age and increasingly inconsistent hypotheses.
The WD450AA is a quiet drive by almost all measures, though we have to give the nod to the Maxtor DiamondMax 60 in a direct comparison of subjective acoustics. Both drives feature indiscernible idle noise. Maxtor's drive, however, is just a tad less obtrusive when it comes to seeks. As a three-platter 5400rpm drive, the WD450AA runs cool to the touch and shouldn't be hard to integrate into even a cramped system.
Overall, Western Digital's release of the WD450AA allows it to keep up in terms of performance with the DiamondMax 60. Whether one looks at WinBench 99 or IOMeter, performance differences are about as non-existent as we've ever witnessed between two direct competitors. Maxtor's offering gets the marginal nod, only due to its slightly quieter operation and its availability in a 60 gig version. If one can do with 30 gigs, the Fireball lct10 also deserves a strong look. But if you're looking for quiet, competent 5400rpm drive and WD's 15 GB/platter drives are the only available choice at your preferred retailer, consider yourself fortunate nonetheless.