The Barracuda ATA III features nearly non-existent idle noise, something that's becoming more and more common as time goes by. Question is, is this a result of advancing mechanisms or of the slowly deteriorating platter counts in ATA drives? Who knows... both are probably factors. The 'Cuda's seek noise is noticeable when performing fully random seeks, but hardly obtrusive. The drive remains quite cool even after extended use.
Overall, the Barracuda ATA III's disappointing showing in WinBench99 and IOMeter leave Western Digital's Caviar WD400BB at the top of the current-generation heap. With the WD400BB offering better performance and the Quantum Fireball Plus AS offering higher capacities, its hard to see where the 'Cuda III fits in. One place may be in cost-sensitive applications that require little else other than high sequential transfer rates. In addition, we have to point out that the 'Cuda ATA series has traditionally excelled in price; the original, for example, shattered price barriers by being the first to deliver capacity at just one American cent per megabyte. Perhaps the 'Cuda III will enjoy a similar advantage. Nonetheless, sharp competition remains right around the corner with Maxtor's DiamondMax Plus 60 as well as a bit further off from manufacturers such as IBM and Fujitsu.