Over the course of the SR's two-year history, Maxtor has always been at the forefront of drive capacities. We remember the monstrous DiamondMax 2880, an 11.5 GB drive that shipped back in March. From that point, the capacity crown would always flip back and forth between Maxtor and IBM. While Maxtor had a more frequent release schedule when it came to next-generation drives (Big Blue sometimes sat out an iteration), IBM's unique, five-platter design allowed it to keep up in the capacity race.
Now, however, things have taken an interesting twist. For whatever reason, IBM decided to scale back its newest-generation 5400 RPM unit to just two platters, leaving the door wide open for others to seize the capacity crown. It's unsurprising that Maxtor has stepped into the void. While other manufacturers are backing down their 5400 RPM (and 7200 RPM for that matter) lines, Maxtor has chosen to stick with its four-platter design to yield a flagship capacity in its 20 GB/platter unit of 80 gigs. This makes the DiamondMax 80 the largest hard disk available... edging out the 7200 RPM, 75 gig IBM Deskstar 75GXP and the 73 gig (not to mention 1.6" tall) Cheetah 73 and Atlas 10k II.
The DM80 doesn't skimp when it comes to other specs. Seek time is specified at 9.0 milliseconds, compared to the Deskstar 40GV's 9.5 ms. The buffer remains at a now-standard 2 MB... again better than the 40GV, which has scaled back to just 512k. A three-year warranty backs the unit.
In recent times, Maxtor has joined the fray in catering to users looking for quieter drive operation with its "Silent Store" operation. It modifies seek and cache patterns to minimize noise in favor of performance. The manufacturer initially intended to leave the option of toggling quiet operation at the factory level. Since then, however, they've decided to leave it to end-users. A utility may be downloaded from Maxtor's site to switch quiet mode on or off here. For the purposes of this review, quiet mode was disabled (amset /off in the utility).
The DiamondMax 80 is the first of a new breed of drives that will ship exclusively with the ATA-100 interface. Remember that since IDE drives have yet to break sequential transfer rates greater than even 40 MB/se that ATA-66 (and in most cases, even ATA-33) interfaces will run the drive at optimal performance. Our testbed remains equipped with a Promise Ultra66 controller.
Let's turn now to some benchmarks and see how this monstrous drive fares!