The IBM Deskstar 5/8 led the pack of last year's ATA drives in both performance and noise considerations, albeit (initially) at a hefty price. Since then, newer offerings from Seagate and Maxtor have leapfrogged over the Deskstar. Using faster spindle-speeds or higher areal densities, the Medalist Pro 7200 and DiamondMax 2880 have posted the most impressive ATA drive benchmarks we've ever seen. And these numbers do translate into performance: These drives are fast!
IBM's Deskstar 14GXP is one of two new drive families that the computer monolith has brought to market this year. Not content to watch its competitors pass it by, IBM has incorporated improvements from both the Medalist Pro and the DiamondMax series. The greater magnetic sensitivity of giant-magnetoresistive (GMR) heads allows data to be written on and read from smaller bit patterns with no loss in accuracy. Utilizing GMR IBM has managed to pack 2.9 gigabytes onto a single platter, matching the densities provided by Maxtor's latest drives (an even more impressive implementation of GMR occurs with the Deskstar 16GP, with an unprecedented 3.3GB/platter). Unlike the DiamondMax, however, the 14GXP boasts a 7200rpm spindle speed. A 9.5 millisecond access time and a 512k buffer wrap up this attractive package. No doubt about it, on paper the drive looks like it'll perform! Warranty information is unavailable at this time, but there's no reason to expect anything less than the typical 3 year protection that accompanies most ATA drives. The drive tested here is the top-capacity DTTA-371440, utilizing five platters to deliver an astounding 14.4 gigabytes of storage.
Though it was announced in November of 1997, the Deskstar 14GXP has yet to reach distribution by vendors for sale to end-users, being supplied only to a handful of large OEMs. We've seen the 14GXP pop up in various internet advertisements here and there over the past month, always at a rather high price. Calls to vendors listing the drive for sale invariably end with a "try back next month or so." The drive tested in this review is one that shipped with such a system; as such, no drive-specific documentation or packaging was included. Nevertheless, the installation and preparation for testing was pain-free. The drive came preset as a "master" ATA drive and went into our testbed without a hitch.
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 is presented below.