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Quantum Fireball SE 8.4 QM38400SE-A

  April 11, 1998 Author: Eugene Ra  
See also our Summer 1998 ATA Drive Roundup

In our 6.4 gig Ultra ATA roundup, the Quantum Fireball SE 6.4GB QM36400SE-A did very well, combining a low price with decent performance to provide an outstanding value for the money. Quantum offers an 8.4GB unit in the same family. The drive's specifications are very similar to it's smaller 6.4 gig brother: 9.5 millisecond access time, the relatively small 128k buffer, 5400rpm. The difference lies in the additional 2.1 gig platter, raising total capacity to the 8.4 gig limit.

In this review, the OEM version of the drive was tested. As usual, the unit arrived in a plain-looking brown box with Quantum's basic single-sheet documentation instructing how to set the ATA master-slave settings. No rails, cables, screws, or software is provided.

ZDBop's Winbench 98 along with Adaptec's Threadmark 2.0 were both run on the unit in Windows 95 OSR 2.1 and Windows NT Workstation 4.0. The drive was partitioned into a single volume of maximum size. The average of 5 trials are presented below.

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As expected, performance of the 8.4 gig Fireball was nearly identical to the 6.4GB version reviewed in Round 1 of our ATA vs SCSI investigation. The larger drive posted a tiny 2% gain under WinBench 98 running in Windows 95. Windows 95 ThreadMark scores were identical to the smaller Quantum, meaning that the Fireball SE 8.4 outscored the Maxtor Diamondmax 2160 8.4 and IBM Deskstar 8.4 by a little more than half a megabyte per second. Under Windows NT, the Quantum's ThreadMark results lagged slightly behind the DiamondMax while besting the Deskstar by nearly one MB/sec. The Fireball's Winbench 98 scores under NT was a bit lower than both the other 8.4 gig drives.

Temperature-wise, the drive ran just as cool as both the IBM and Maxtor drives, with the seek noise level being comparable to the Maxtor, i.e., slightly louder than the Deskstar. Like most ATA drives, one should have little problem integrating the Fireball into almost any system.

The Quantum Fireball SE 8.4 gig drive garners a mixed recommendation. Though it performs similarly to the DiamondMax 2160 and the Deskstar 8, and is priced comparably, newer drives from Seagate, Maxtor, and soon IBM seem to make better sense- more performance at the same price level. The Seagate, with its 7200rpm speed, runs a bit hot and may not work in all installations as the Fireball would. Maxtor's DiamondMax 2880 series, however, offers better performance in both Windows 95 and NT, sometimes by a significant margin. Since the DiamondMax 2880 8.4 costs no more than the Fireball, its probably a better choice.

Quantum Fireball SE 8.4 QM38400SE-A
Estimated Price: $379
Specifications
See Also - ATA vs SCSI: Quantum's Fireball SE
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* Note: All reported test results are the average of five trials.


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