When stacked against the Summer 1999 ATA Drive Roundup 7200rpm Editor's Choice, the Fireball Plus KX performs admirably. The KX inches past the Western Digital Expert AC418000
by a margin of 1% in the Business Disk WinMark 99 test run under Windows 95. Results are similar in the High-End Disk WinMark, with the KX sliding ahead of the Expert by 3%. The gap increases in tests run under Windows NT 4.0. Here the Quantum triumphs by 7% in the Business Disk WinMark and a substantial 19% in High-End tests.
Interestingly, in low level tests, the KX is not quite the pioneer that its predecessor was. Though sustained transfer rates hit 23 MB/sec (an all-time high for ATA drives), access time has actually regressed by a couple milliseconds. Even so, the KX still manages to beat its advertised seek time- something that doesn't happen often.
Adaptec ThreadMark 2.0 results place the Fireball Plus KX significantly ahead of the Expert. Here the Quantum drive flies by the WD by about 27% in tests under both Windows 95 and Windows NT.
Readers may recall that we found the Fireball Plus KA to be rather loud when seeking, approaching the level of many SCSI drives. We're happy to report that the KX does seem to be a notch quieter than its predecessor. While it's no Fujitsu, the KX's noise is less obtrusive than the KA, delivering about the same noise during seeks as, say, a Maxtor DiamondMax Plus 5120. The drive operates warmly though not excessively so outside a drive cooler; attention to space and airflow will allow most users to integrate this disk into their systems without active cooling.
All in all, the Quantum Fireball Plus KX combines strong performance under both Windows 95 and Windows NT to displace the Western Digital Expert (and IBM Deskstar 22GXP) as the fastest ATA drive yet tested here at StorageReview.com. The KX does have its work cut out for it though, as next-generation units from WD, Maxtor, IBM, Seagate, and Fujitsu will all be arriving shortly. Even so, judging from current ATA market trends, it seems like you won't go wrong if you decide to go with the Fireball Plus KX.