An interesting comparison arises when we set the Deskstar 37GP against WD's Caviar WD205AA
. Readers may recall that the specs and performance between the Deskstar 25GP and the Caviar AC420400 were quite similar. In this successive generation, however, we're seeing some differences. IBM has packed more data per platter
on the 37GP than WD did with the WD205AA. On the flip side, WD states that its incorporated a variety of proprietary improvements in the firmware side that make the WD205AA a drive all their own.
A look at the transfer rates delivered by low-level WinBench 99 tests show that while the IBM packs more data per platter, the two drives sport virtually the same transfer rate on the outer tracks. When the test gets to the inner track, however, the WD proves to be slightly faster. It seems IBM's improved GB/platter arises from more densly packed tracks rather than squeezing in more data per track.
Higher-level benchmarks generally discern more differences between drives. Test under Windows 95 show the two units to be close. The Business Disk WinMark 99 shows IBM's drive trailing behind the WD by a slim 3% margin. The High-End WinMark, however, reverses the situation, placing the Deskstar ahead of the Caviar by about 4%.
The drives diverge quite a bit with tests conducted under Windows NT. Here the 37GP places about 10% below the WD205AA in the Business Disk WinMark. High-End tests increase the margin to 15%. ThreadMark also emphasizes the difference. The IBM trails WD's drive by a margin of 21% in Windows 95 and 26% in NT.
As is the case these days with 5400rpm drives, heat is a non-issue. The drive is barely warm to the touch after extended use without active cooling. When it comes to noise, the Deskstar is quiet. There's no high-pitched squeal and seeks were muted.
Overall, like the Caviar, the Deskstar 37GP provides top-flight 5400rpm performance in Windows 9x. In NT, however, WD's drive flexes its muscles and outguns the 37GP by significant margins. One should note, however, that WD has implemented a recall on the 205AA family of drives manufacturers within certain dates. This slightly muddies what would have otherwise been a clear choice in the 5400rpm arena. As a drive that outraces offerings from Maxtor and Quantum in Windows 9x, the Deskstar 37GP may thus be worth consideration.