The Fireball EX turned in some mighty impressive figures under WinBench 98. Though only a 5400rpm drive, the EX can be counted among the best ATA
drives currently available, turning out performance figures that rival even the 7200rpm DiamondMax Plus
and Deskstar 14GXP
. The EX lagged behind the 14GXP
, a strong Win95 performer, by only 6% in the Win95 Business Disk WinMark and a miniscule 1% in the Win95 High-End tests. Turning in an even more impressive NT run, the EX actually surpassed the Deskstar in Windows NT WinMarks by margins of one to five percent. A comparison with the DiamondMax Plus
yields more even results; since the DiamondMax is a more balanced performer between the two flavors of Microsoft's OS, the EX generally lagged (albeit only slightly) in each major category. A notable exception should be pointed out in the Win95 High-End WinMark: here the EX actually comes out on top over the Plus 2500
. Again, not a bad showing at all for a 5400 rpm drive!
According to ThreadMark 2.0, the Fireball EX matches the Deskstar 14GXP's performance under NT and actually outruns the IBM unit in Win95 by about 6%. ThreadMark is always a Maxtor strong hold; though the EX's scores are certainly respectable, they lagged behind the Diamond Max Plus' by about 19%. Again, however, it's important to emphasize that ThreadMark results don't seem to correspond to real-world "feel" as much as WinBench 98.
So, basically, Quantum's 5400rpm drive gives the 7200rpm competition a run for their money. What about heat and noise? Here's the kicker: while delivering performance comparable to that of a 7200rpm unit, the Fireball EX operates both quietly and coolly. There wasn't a noticeable high pitch whine and seeks were rather muffled and unobtrusive. Even when looped in a constant seek motion while operating without active cooling, the EX became only warm to the touch. One should have little problem integrating the drive into any system.
I regret not being able to try out the Fireball EX before now; it's definitely a stellar performer! Quantum delivers 7200rpm performance without 7200rpm noise and heat. Not unlike a situation that arose earlier this year when Maxtor's 5400rpm 2880 managed to edge out Seagate's 7200rpm Medalist Pro in many performance tests. The margin here is even tighter- the EX is breathing down the necks of the very best. Due to its lower areal density and/or platter count, the 12.7GB EX isn't the largest disk one can buy. Yet despite the upcoming DiamondMax 4320, the Fireball EX is without question the fastest 5400rpm drive around. This of course begs the question: What could Quantum do if it delivered a 7200rpm Fireball? .