IBMís upscale Ultrastar 9LP is positioned directly against other enterprise-class drives such as Seagateís Barracuda 9LP and Quantumís Atlas III. The lower-end Ultrastar 9ES posted some impressive figures in ZDís WinBench (along with some anomalous ThreadMark results) in addition to providing quiet, cool operation. The 9LP promises more performance and reliability, albeit at a significantly higher price than the 9ES.
The Ultrastar 9LP stores its 9.1 gigs of data across 5 1.8 gigabyte platters - standard for todayís low-profile, 9 gig SCSI drives. Seek time is rated at an impressively low 6.5 milliseconds. 7200rpm spindle speed and a 1 meg buffer round out the specs. The unit is backed by a five year warranty. The 9LP is available in both Ultra Wide and Ultra2 SCSI versions. For this review, weíve taken a look at the Ultra Wide DGHS09U.
Like all the other SCSI drives the Storage Review has used, the Ultrastar 9LP arrived in a nondescript plain cardboard box. There literally was no documentation at all accompanying the drive. A quick check at IBMís website provided the necessary termination and ID-setting information.
Before I test any SCSI drive, I use Adaptecís ThreadMark to check the unitís caching settings, ensuring that both the read and write boxes are checked. The 9LP, like a couple other drives, arrived with write-caching set off. After enabling write-caching, I moved on with some WinBench 98 tests. As I was about to move onwards to some ThreadMark trials, I noticed that write-caching was still disabled despite my earlier precautions. For some reason, it turns out that the ThreadMark caching changes wouldnít take. I installed Adaptecís EZ-SCSI 5.0, hoping that the programís SCSI Explorer feature would enact a more permanent change on the setting. This time, write-caching stayed on. I restarted all tests.
Aside from the lack of documentation and the stubborn cache settings, installation of the drive went smoothly. 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.