So far we've been rather critical of the Fireball lct15. Despite Quantum's attempts to euphemize the picture, the fact is that the lct15 doesn't keep up with the competition in our tests. But we must give credit where credit is due. When it comes to heat and noise levels, the lct15 is second to none. When compared to other silent champs such as the Fujitsu MPD3173AT and, more recently, the Maxtor DiamondMax 60, the Fireball is easily the quietest drive ever. There is absolutely no idle noise discernable over our PC Power & Cooling Silencer power supply. The seeks are the quietest around- inaudible from typical working positions with a midtower resting on the floor. Even when we duck down under the desk, seeks are quite muted and just barely audible over the PS's fan. The drive operates cool to the touch, pure and simple. It'll work in even the most cramped situations.
In conclusion, the lct15's substandard performance precludes us from recommending it to most hardware enthusiasts. For negligible amounts more, one can get drives that offer significantly better performance... drives such as the Maxtor DiamondMax 60 or especially Quantum's own Fireball lct10 (still our reigning leaderboard champion). The lct15 may nevertheless be a drive encountered with increasing frequency in major brand-name systems. For example, Quantum is proud of the fact that HP has gone exclusively with the lct15 in its brand new eVectra, a low-cost, highly-manageable, and downright diminutive system who's very size may drive users to place it on rather than under their desk. In such cases, the lct15 will undoubtedly be the most unobtrusive drive around when it comes to noise. We're just wondering what such users will think about their machine's overall performance.
In a different vein, the lct15's performance is more than adequate for the playback (though not necessarily the editing) of digital video. Its minimum transfer rate of 11.6 MB/sec allows it to keep up with single streams of sequential data. Thus, when it comes to the PVR market, sub-5400rpm drives may very well succeed.
It remains to be seen whether other manufacturers will follow Quantum's lead in lowering spindle speed to more easily facilitate desired noise and heat levels. At least one competitor, Seagate, is plowing firmly ahead at 5400rpm with its next product. Which manufacturer will the others follow? Time will tell.