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Fujitsu MAG3182LP

  June 1, 1999 Author: Eugene Ra  
Evaluation unit provided by Fujitsu Computer Products.

For the longest time, StorageReview.com's coverage of Fujitu's hard drives has been minimal. Though we've featured coverage of the 7200rpm SCSI MAB3091SP and the 5400rpm ATA MPB3064AT and MPC3102AT, our coverage was admittedly quite sparse. We were never able to obtain, for example, Fujitsu's first 10k rpm drive, the MAC3091. We're happy to report, however, that this as finally changed. Fujitsu has graciously and swiftly provided all four of their current 3.5" drives. We look forward to providing more complete coverage of all available hard disks with the regular additions of a sixth major drive manufacturer.

The 10,000rpm drive competition is heating up. During the first 10k year, Seagate was the only name around. The second year featured IBM and Fujitsu joining Seagate with 10k offerings. Finally, in this third year, all major SCSI drive manufacturers are in the game with additions from Quantum and Western Digital. Since IBM's initial (there's another one coming) 1999 10krpm drive offering was a bit half-hearted, the Seagate Cheetah 18LP currently reigns as the fastest drive that StorageReview.com has ever tested.

The MAG3182LP is Fujitsu's second 10k rpm Ultra2 SCSI offering, a direct competitor to the third-generation Cheetah 18LP. The specs of this 18.2 gigabyte drive, however, read a bit more impressively across the board. Instead of the Cheetah's 3.0 gigs per platter, the MAG3182LP features 3.6 GB/platter. The Fujitsu's specified average read seek time of 5.0 milliseconds comes in just a hair faster than the Seagate's 5.2 ms. Finally, the MAG3182LP's 2 meg buffer is twice the size of the Cheetah 18LP's one meg. A five-year warranty protects the drive.

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Despite some impressive specifications verified by outstanding low-level test results, we found the MAG3182LP trailing the Cheetah 18LP in most areas, albeit in many cases by small margins. Under Windows 95, the Business Disk WinMark, the Fujitsu drive trails the Seagate by an insignificant 1%. High-End Disk WinMark tests, though, show the gap opening up to a more substantial 13%. Interestingly, standings in tests run under Windows NT were virtually identical: the two drives were neck-and-neck (0% margin) in the Business test while the Fujitsu fell behind by 13% in the High-End WinMark. Adaptec ThreadMark shows the Fujitsu trailing the Seagate by a margin of 6% in Windows 95 and 21% under NT.

Aesthetics are definitely where this 10k rpm drive shines. Despite its high spindle speed, the drive runs only moderately warm to the touch outside a drive cooler. Our testbed's large case provided enough air circulation even without active cooling. A faint high-pitch squeal could be heard during idle, though less intrusive than the Cheetah 18LP. Seeks, though not as muted as ATA drives, come in a notch below the Cheetah. The MAG3182LP is arguably the quietest and coolest 10k drive we've yet tested.

After all is said and done, the Fujitsu MAG3182LP doesn't quite have the oomph to displace the Cheetah 18LP as "the fastest drive around." Impressive aesthetics, however, allow the drive to advance as an interesting alternative to the hot and noisy Cheetah. Though it's not -quite- the bleeding-edge performer that the Seagate drive is, the Fujitsu still offers premiere SCSI performance with much more tolerable noise and heat levels. If you simply must have the fastest drive regardless of other concerns, the drive of choice is currently the Cheetah 18LP. If not, however, consider the MAG3182LP.

Fujitsu MAG3182LP
Estimated Price: $899
Also Available: MAG3091LP (9.1 GB version)
Specifications
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* Note: Threadmark 2.0 test results are the average of five trials.
WinBench99 test results are the average of three trials.


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