Weíve decided to set the default database comparison to the 5.7GB Maxtor DiamondMax 2880. So far we havenít run the full suite of tests on any other 6.4 gig drive. In addition, most of the 6.4GB drives have been eclipsed by newer models. Maxtor drives are as readily available as Western Digitalís. The Maxtor 5.7 offers slightly less capacity for slightly less cost.
The DiamondMax is weakest in WinBench 98 under Windows 95, yet even in such a setting the Maxtor drive bested the Caviar by a notable 17%. The gap widened to 25-30% under Windows NT. ThreadMark results showed yet a greater disparity, a whopping 40% difference in performance.
I should note that this second sample of the AC36400 runs much quieter than the first weíve tested. Its still not as quiet as the Deskstar 5/8, but its no louder than the DiamondMax series. As is the case with most ATA drives, the unit runs quite cool.
There are those who swear by Western Digital for its reputation of reliabililty. It seems, however, that there are just as many who curse the company for providing strings of troublesome units. The plain fact is that the same dichotomy exists with any drive manufacturer. Until we can set up a comprehensive and secure reliability survey, I canít incorporate phrases like "its reliable" or "its not very reliable." Performance, however, is another matter. While the AC36400 was a competent if uninspiring performer when put up with previous generation drives, itís clearly left behind by new designs from other manufacturers.