by eugene

Maxtor MaXLine Plus II (Serial ATA Version)


Maxtor MaXLine Plus II 250 GB SATA Capacities
Model Number Capacity
7Y250M0 250 GB
Lowest Real-Time Price:


Introduction

Maxtor's latest ATA drive lines have traveled a somewhat bumpy road. Originally announced last September as the first 80 GB/platter drive, early models of the DiamondMax Plus 9 subsequently shipped with 60 or 66 GB platters. Further, the huge 250 GB and 320 GB MaXLine II models announced around the same time, despite captivating readers worldwide, remained nowhere to be seen.

A year has passed since Maxtor's initial announcement. While it originally was to top out at just 160 gigabytes, the DiamondMax Plus 9 has since hit 200 and even 250 gigabyte capacities. The Maxline Plus II was initially to pick up the 200 and 250 GB points but has since been reduced to just a single 250 GB size.

Top of the driveThere are actually two MaXLine series- the standard MaXLine features 5400 RPM operation while the MaXLine Plus incorporates 7200 RPM operation. The MaxLine Plus II features three 83-gigabyte platters with a 7200 RPM spindle speed. Though announced at the outset in both ball bearing and fluid bearing models, in practice (like the DiamondMax Plus 9), all MaxLine Plus drives feature quieter fluid dynamic bearing motors. The drive comes equipped with a performance-standard 8-megabyte buffer.

What differentiates the MaxLine Plus II from a 250-gigabyte DiamondMax Plus 9? Though the firm has carefully maintained that the DiamondMax Plus 9 has been built to standards just as high as its predecessors, Maxtor claims that the MaxLine series goes above and beyond the ATA norm. It features a 1.2 million hour mean time between failure (MTBF) figure, matching the spec sported by the top SCSI drives. For those about to protest that they do not believe a drive will "run 137 years continuously" before failing, remember that MTBF is the total cumulative amount of hours a large group (500 to 1000) of the given drive should run before one of them fails. Maxtor rates the MaxLine for "24/7" operation. Many readers may remember the flack that IBM took for specifying the Deskstar 60GXP series with a "333 power-on hours per month" recommendation. Does the MaxLine's 24/7 claim imply that other drives such as the DiamondMax Plus 9 or even the Deskstar 60GXP should not be powered on continuously? The issue remains somewhat fuzzy.

Back of the driveFinally, the MaxLine Plus II explicitly features a three-year warranty. In announcing the DiamondMax Plus 9, Maxtor fired the first salvo in reducing standard drive warranty lengths from three years down to just one year. To reflect its increased reliability, however, the MaxLine was to be protected by the previous three-year standard (though, interestingly, not by the SCSI-standard 5-year period). Like many issues surrounding Maxtor's latest drives, however, the distinction is somewhat blurry. While all MaxLine drives are backed for three years, there have been many reports of readers receiving DiamondMax Plus 9 drives that, either in the packaging or through information provided through Maxtor's website, appear to feature a three rather than the expected one-year warranty.

Why "II"? What happened to the MaXLine I? According to Maxtor, the 120 GB and 160 GB DiamondMax D540X drives were actually built to an elevated standard and hence, retroactively, are the first-generation MaXLine drives.

With serial ATA's hotswap functionality, Maxtor aims to carve out a segment previously serviced by high-capacity, expensive SCSI hard disks and tape drives. Such secondary storage has traditionally been used to store or backup enormous amounts of data that users do not need to access as regularly as "first line" data. A reliable, high-capacity ATA drive ostensibly offers speed and cost advantages over traditional solutions. The MaxLine Plus II, of course, also serves as Maxtor's premiere ATA drive offering- it competes with drives from other manufacturers for use in mid- to high-end desktop systems as well as entry-level servers.

As an SATA drive, the MaxLine II includes a newer 15-pin power connector that supports hot-swap functionality. It also, however, includes the legacy 4-pin molex power connector that assemblers have all come to love and hate. Either may be used to power the drive.

Like all other designs save only Seagate's Barracuda series, the MaXLine Plus II utilizes an onboard parallel-to-serial bridge. Though converters usually exact a performance penalty, high-level performance should remain the ultimate arbiter. All other things being equal, if a bridged design outperforms another that uses a native setup, it should be the obvious choice- as always, it's bottom-line rather than module-level performance that matters most.





Low-Level Results

For diagnostic purposes only, StorageReview measures the following low-level parameters:

Average Read Access Time- An average of 25,000 random accesses of a single sector each conducted through IPEAK SPT's AnalyzeDisk suite. The high sample size permits a much more accurate reading than most typical benchmarks deliver and provides an excellent figure with which one may contrast the claimed access time (claimed seek time + the drive spindle speed's average rotational latency) provided by manufacturers.

WB99 Disk/Read Transfer Rate - Begin- The sequential transfer rate attained by the outermost zones in the hard disk. The figure typically represents the highest sustained transfer rate a drive delivers.

WB99 Disk/Read Transfer Rate - End- The sequential transfer rate attained by the innermost zones in the hard disk. The figure typically represents the lowest sustained transfer rate a drive delivers.

For more information, please click here.

Note: Scores on top are better.
Service Time Graphs (in milliseconds)
Average Read Service Time
IBM Deskstar 180GXP 8 MB (180 GB ATA-100) - 12.9|
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Maxtor DiamondMax Plus 9 (200 GB SATA) - 13.5|
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Maxtor MaXLine Plus II (250 GB SATA) - 13.7|
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Maxtor MaXLine Plus II (250 GB ATA-133) - 13.7|
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Western Digital Caviar WD2500JB (250 GB ATA-100) - 13.8|
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Seagate Barracuda ATA V (120 GB SATA) - 13.8|
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Western Digital Caviar WD2500JD (250 GB SATA) - 14.1|
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7Y250M0 Average Read Service Time

The SATA MaXLine's average access time of 13.7 milliseconds is identical to that of its parallel twin. Subtracting 4.2 ms to account for 7200 RPM rotational latency yields a measured seek time of 9.5 ms, about half a millisecond above Maxtor's spec.

Note: Scores on top are better.
Transfer Rate Graphs (in megabytes per second)
Transfer Rate - Begin
Maxtor MaXLine Plus II (250 GB SATA) - 60.5|
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Maxtor MaXLine Plus II (250 GB ATA-133) - 60.1|
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Western Digital Caviar WD2500JD (250 GB SATA) - 57.9|
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Western Digital Caviar WD2500JB (250 GB ATA-100) - 57.7|
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IBM Deskstar 180GXP 8 MB (180 GB ATA-100) - 56.2|
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Maxtor DiamondMax Plus 9 (200 GB SATA) - 53.6|
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Seagate Barracuda ATA V (120 GB SATA) - 43.6|
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Transfer Rate - End
Western Digital Caviar WD2500JD (250 GB SATA) - 36.5|
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Western Digital Caviar WD2500JB (250 GB ATA-100) - 36.2|
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Maxtor MaXLine Plus II (250 GB SATA) - 34.5|
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Maxtor MaXLine Plus II (250 GB ATA-133) - 34.3|
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Maxtor DiamondMax Plus 9 (200 GB SATA) - 31.6|
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IBM Deskstar 180GXP 8 MB (180 GB ATA-100) - 30.7|
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Seagate Barracuda ATA V (120 GB SATA) - 24.7|
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7Y250M0 Transfer Rate

Thanks to its high areal density, the MaXLine manages to deliver a 60 MB/sec transfer rate off of its outer zone. Inner-zone scores decay to a respectable 34.5 MB/sec.





Single-User Performance

StorageReview uses the following tests to assess non-server use:

StorageReview.com Office DriveMark 2002- A capture of 30 minutes of actual computer productivity use that exactingly recreates a typical office-style multitasking environment. The applications include: Outlook XP, Word XP, Excel XP, PowerPoint XP, Calypso (a freeware e-mail client), SecureCRT v3.3 (a telnet/SSH client), CuteFTP Pro v1.0 (an FTP/SSH client), ICQ 2000b), Palm Hotsync 4.0, Gravity 2.3 (a Usenet/newsgroups client), PaintShop Pro v7.0, Media Player v8 for the occasional MP3, and Internet Explorer 6.0.

StorageReview.com High-End DriveMark 2002- A capture of VeriTest's Content Creation Winstone 2001 suite. Applications include Adobe Photoshop v5.5, Adobe Premiere v5.1, Macromedia Director v8.0, Macromedia Dreamweaver v3.0, Netscape Navigator v4.73, and Sonic Foundry Sound Forge v4.5. Unlike typical productivity applications, high-end audio- and video- editing programs are run in a more serial and less multitasked manner. The High-End DriveMark includes significantly more sequential transfers and write (as opposed to read) operations.

StorageReview.com Bootup DriveMark 2002- A capture of the rather unusual Windows XP bootup process. Windows XP's boot procedure involves significantly different access patterns and queue depths than those found in other disk accesses. This test recreates Windows XP's bootup from the initial bootstrap load all the way to initialization and loading of the following memory-resident utilities: Dimension4 (a time synchronizer), Norton Antivirus 2002 AutoProtect, Palm Hotsync v4.0, and ICQ 2000b.

StorageReview.com Gaming DriveMark 2002- A weighted average of the disk accesses featured in five popular PC games: Lionhead's Black & White v1.1, Valve's Half-Life: Counterstrike v1.3, Blizzard's Diablo 2: Lord of Destruction v1.09b, Maxis's The Sims: House Party v1.0, and Epic's Unreal Tournament v4.36. Games, of course, are not multitasked- all five titles were run in a serial fashion featuring approximately half an hour of play time per game.

For more information, please click here.

Note: Scores on top are better.
Desktop Performance Graphs (in I/Os per second)
SR Office DriveMark 2002
Western Digital Caviar WD2500JB (250 GB ATA-100) - 429|
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IBM Deskstar 180GXP 8 MB (180 GB ATA-100) - 418|
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Western Digital Caviar WD2500JD (250 GB SATA) - 417|
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Maxtor MaXLine Plus II (250 GB SATA) - 407|
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Maxtor MaXLine Plus II (250 GB ATA-133) - 407|
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Maxtor DiamondMax Plus 9 (200 GB SATA) - 385|
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Seagate Barracuda ATA V (120 GB SATA) - 364|
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SR High-End DriveMark 2002
Western Digital Caviar WD2500JB (250 GB ATA-100) - 429|
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Western Digital Caviar WD2500JD (250 GB SATA) - 418|
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Maxtor MaXLine Plus II (250 GB SATA) - 405|
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Maxtor MaXLine Plus II (250 GB ATA-133) - 400|
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IBM Deskstar 180GXP 8 MB (180 GB ATA-100) - 382|
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Maxtor DiamondMax Plus 9 (200 GB SATA) - 379|
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Seagate Barracuda ATA V (120 GB SATA) - 332|
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SR Bootup DriveMark 2002
Western Digital Caviar WD2500JB (250 GB ATA-100) - 397|
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Western Digital Caviar WD2500JD (250 GB SATA) - 394|
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Maxtor MaXLine Plus II (250 GB ATA-133) - 373|
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Maxtor MaXLine Plus II (250 GB SATA) - 369|
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Maxtor DiamondMax Plus 9 (200 GB SATA) - 358|
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IBM Deskstar 180GXP 8 MB (180 GB ATA-100) - 307|
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Seagate Barracuda ATA V (120 GB SATA) - 305|
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SR Gaming DriveMark 2002
Western Digital Caviar WD2500JB (250 GB ATA-100) - 551|
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Western Digital Caviar WD2500JD (250 GB SATA) - 541|
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Maxtor MaXLine Plus II (250 GB SATA) - 531|
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IBM Deskstar 180GXP 8 MB (180 GB ATA-100) - 528|
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Maxtor MaXLine Plus II (250 GB ATA-133) - 527|
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Maxtor DiamondMax Plus 9 (200 GB SATA) - 512|
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Seagate Barracuda ATA V (120 GB SATA) - 460|
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The serial ATA MaXLine Plus II delivers 407 I/Os per second in the SR Office DriveMark 2002, a mark equal to that set by the PATA unit. Similar scores between the Maxtors also arise in the High-End, Bootup, and Gaming DriveMarks, all of which place the two units within a couple percentage points of each other.

In these single-user patterns, WD's SATA Caviar manages to maintain a fairly slim yet consistent lead across the board over the MaXLine.





Multi-User Performance

StorageReview uses the following tests to assess server performance:

StorageReview.com File Server DriveMark 2002- A mix of synthetically-created reads and writes through IOMeter that attempts to model the heavily random access that a dedicated file server experiences. Individual tests are run under loads with 1 I/O, 4 I/Os, 16 I/Os, and 64 I/Os outstanding. The Server DriveMark is a convenient at-a-glance figure derived from the weighted average of results obtained from the four different loads.

StorageReview.com Web Server DriveMark 2002- A mix of synthetically-created reads through IOMeter that attempts to model the heavily random access that a dedicated web server experiences. Individual tests are run under loads with 1 I/O, 4 I/Os, 16 I/Os, and 64 I/Os outstanding. The Server DriveMark is a convenient at-a-glance figure derived from the weighted average of results obtained from the four different loads.

For more information click here.

Note: Scores on top are better.
Server Performance Graphs (in I/Os per second)
SR File Server DriveMark 2002
IBM Deskstar 180GXP 8 MB (180 GB ATA-100) - 131|
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Western Digital Caviar WD2500JB (250 GB ATA-100) - 125|
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Western Digital Caviar WD2500JD (250 GB SATA) - 124|
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Seagate Barracuda ATA V (120 GB SATA) - 119|
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Maxtor MaXLine Plus II (250 GB SATA) - 117|
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Maxtor MaXLine Plus II (250 GB ATA-133) - 117|
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Maxtor DiamondMax Plus 9 (200 GB SATA) - 112|
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SR Web Server DriveMark 2002
IBM Deskstar 180GXP 8 MB (180 GB ATA-100) - 134|
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Seagate Barracuda ATA V (120 GB SATA) - 126|
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Western Digital Caviar WD2500JB (250 GB ATA-100) - 124|
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Maxtor MaXLine Plus II (250 GB SATA) - 122|
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Western Digital Caviar WD2500JD (250 GB SATA) - 122|
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Maxtor MaXLine Plus II (250 GB ATA-133) - 120|
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Maxtor DiamondMax Plus 9 (200 GB SATA) - 120|
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Again, as one would expect, the SATA and PATA MaXLines turn in virtually identical scores in our server DriveMarks. The Caviar WD2500JD enjoys a slight advantage in the File Server pattern, a mix of reads and writes. In the read-only Web Server pattern, however, the MaXLine equals WD's drive.





Legacy Performance

eTesting Lab's WinBench 99 Disk WinMark tests are benchmarks that attempt to measure desktop performance through a rather dated recording of high-level applications. Despite their age, the Disk WinMarks are somewhat of an industry standard. The following results serve only as a reference; SR does not factor them into final judgments and recommends that readers do the same.

Note: Scores on top are better.
Legacy Performance Graphs (in megabytes per second)
ZD Business Disk WinMark 99
Western Digital Caviar WD2500JB (250 GB ATA-100) - 16.3|
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Maxtor MaXLine Plus II (250 GB ATA-133) - 16.0|
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IBM Deskstar 180GXP 8 MB (180 GB ATA-100) - 15.7|
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Western Digital Caviar WD2500JD (250 GB SATA) - 10.3|
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Maxtor MaXLine Plus II (250 GB SATA) - 10.2|
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Seagate Barracuda ATA V (120 GB SATA) - 9.9|
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Maxtor DiamondMax Plus 9 (200 GB SATA) - 9.6|
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ZD High-End Disk WinMark 99
Maxtor MaXLine Plus II (250 GB ATA-133) - 45.0|
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Maxtor MaXLine Plus II (250 GB SATA) - 43.2|
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Maxtor DiamondMax Plus 9 (200 GB SATA) - 39.7|
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IBM Deskstar 180GXP 8 MB (180 GB ATA-100) - 39.2|
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Western Digital Caviar WD2500JB (250 GB ATA-100) - 38.5|
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Western Digital Caviar WD2500JD (250 GB SATA) - 36.7|
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Seagate Barracuda ATA V (120 GB SATA) - 32.2|
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Heat and Noise

Idle Noise- The sound pressure emitted from a drive measured at a distance of 18 millimeters. The close-field measurement allows for increased resolution between drive sound pressures and eliminates interactions from outside environmental noise. Note that while the measurement is an A-weighted decibel score that weighs frequencies in proportion to human ear sensitivity, a low score does not necessarily predict whether or not a drive will exhibit a high-pitch whine that some may find intrusive. Conversely, a high score does not necessarily indicate that the drive exhibits an intrusive noise envelope.

Net Drive Temperature- The highest temperature recorded from a 16-point sample of a drive's top plate after it has been under heavy load for 80 minutes. The figures provided are net temperatures representing the difference between the measured drive temperature and ambient temperature.

For more information, please click here.

Note: Scores on top are better.
Heat and Noise
Idle Noise (in dB/A @ 18mm)
IBM Deskstar 180GXP 8 MB (180 GB ATA-100) - 40.1|
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Maxtor MaXLine Plus II (250 GB ATA-133) - 41.8|
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Maxtor MaXLine Plus II (250 GB SATA) - 43.8|
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Western Digital Caviar WD2500JB (250 GB ATA-100) - 44.7|
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Western Digital Caviar WD2500JD (250 GB SATA) - 46.1|
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Net Drive Temperature (in degrees celsius)
Maxtor MaXLine Plus II (250 GB SATA) - 19.3|
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Western Digital Caviar WD2500JB (250 GB ATA-100) - 19.9|
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Maxtor MaXLine Plus II (250 GB ATA-133) - 20.1|
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Western Digital Caviar WD2500JD (250 GB SATA) - 20.1|
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IBM Deskstar 180GXP 8 MB (180 GB ATA-100) - 22.1|
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Thanks to its fluid-bearing motors, the SATA MaXLine manages a respectable sound pressure measurement of 43.8 dB/A from a distance of 18 millimeters. Strangely enough, it weighs in nearly 2 dB/A louder than the parallel ATA version of the drive. Even so, the drive slides in under 45 dB/A, a mark that generally indicates inaudible idle noise in most systems. Seeks are just loud enough to let the user know the drive is doing its work.

With a temperature of 19.3 degrees Celsius above ambient, the MaXLine's heat profile falls within expected parameters. Like other three-platter designs, the drive will easily integrate into machines featuring adequate ventilation.





Reliability

The StorageReview.com Reliability Survey aims to amalgamate individual reader experiences with various hard disks into a comprehensive warehouse of information from which meaningful results may be extracted. A multiple-layer filter sifts through collected data, silently omitting questionable results or results from questionable participants. A proprietary analysis engine then processes the qualified dataset. SR presents results to readers through a percentile ranking system.

According to filtered and analyzed data collected from participating StorageReview.com readers, the Maxtor MaXLine Plus II is more reliable than of the other drives in the survey that meet a certain minimum floor of participation.

According to filtered and analyzed data collected from participating StorageReview.com readers, a predecessor of the Maxtor MaXLine Plus II, the DiamondMax Plus 9 , is more reliable than of the other drives in the survey that meet a certain minimum floor of participation.

Note that the percentages in bold above may change as more information continues to be collected and analyzed. For more information, to input your experience with these and/or other drives, and to view comprehensive results, please visit the SR Drive Reliability Survey.





Conclusion

Maxtor's serial ATA MaXLine Plus II delivers performance that is indistinguishable from the parallel ATA version. As a result, it places slightly behind category-leader Western Digital in most measures. The MaXLine's fluid-bearing motors, however, bring noticeably quieter operation to the table. Those seeking quiet operation may be better off with Maxtor's entry than with the ceramic-bearing-based Caviar WD2500JD.

  Review Discussion