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Maxtor DiamondMax 40 94098U8

  October 19, 1999 Author: Eugene Ra  
See also our Summer 1999 ATA Drive Roundup.
Evaluation unit provided by Maxtor Corp.

The Maxtor DiamondMax 40 is the successor to the DiamondMax 36, a drive that, strangely enough, has not yet been reviewed at StorageReview.com. Through a series of factors that we have yet to understand, Maxtor has delivered us an evaluation unit of the DiamondMax 40 before we've even gotten our hands on the DiamondMax 36. The DM40's 10.2 gigabytes per platter (!), however, delivers a platter capacity that seems to be standard across the lines of drives forthcoming from all major manufacturers.

As has always been the case, it's the 5400rpm drives that are mashing more and more data onto a single platter. The 5400rpm DiamondMax 40's 10.2 gigs per platter is an amazing 500% increase over what was state of the art just two years ago. Combined with Maxtor's 4-disk assembly, the DiamondMax 40 weighs in at an amazing 41 gigs.

Seek times, on the other hand, seem to be stuck in somewhat of a rut. With the exception of a couple 7200rpm drives that have dared to explore the depths below, ATA seek times have remained within the nine millisecond range during the same two year period. The DiamondMax 40's 9.0 millisecond access time does little to break this mold.

Though Maxtor wasn't the first to set the new standard, the DiamondMax 40 is equipped with a now-mundane two megs of buffer. The DM40 sports Maxtor's DualWave processor, an architecture which claims to reduce command overhead by 90%. A three-year warranty protects the drive.

As we've done with all other ATA-66 drives, the DiamondMax 40 was tested using Promise's Ultra66 controller. The ATA-66 DiamondMax 40 does not work properly with our old-bios (kept old to control variables) LX-based motherboard. Though this shouldn't be an issue with most motherboards these days, Maxtor provides a utility to force the drive into ATA-33 operation. No loss of performance would occur should this be necessary.

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The DiamondMax 40 is best compared with the Western Digital Caviar WD205AA, an excellent-performing drive that holds the dubious distinction of experiencing a widely-publicized recall. In Windows 95, the DiamondMax weighs in slightly behind the Caviar, trailing by a margin of 2% in the Business Disk WinMark and by 4% in the High-End Disk WinMark. Maxtor usually proves to be a crowd-pleaser when it comes to NT results, however, and the DM40 is no exception. Here the Maxtor drive bests the WD unit by 9% in the Business WinMark and 8% in High-End tests. ThreadMark gives the nod to the DiamondMax, clocking the Maxtor 12% faster than the WD in Win95 and 5% faster in NT.

As one would expect, heat isn't much of an issue with this drive. It can be comfortably integrated into virtually all systems. When it comes to noise, the DiamondMax 40 seems to be the quiestest drive I've yet used from Maxtor. There's no high-pitch whine, and seeks are a muted sound reminiscent of the stealthy IBM Deskstar 8.

In conclusion, the first-of-its-generation DiamondMax 40 posts record scores for a 5400rpm drive. As one should expect, it out-muscles the best of the previous generation, though not by margins that would be considered earth-shattering. Competing drives have already been announced by at least two other manufacturers. All the others will surely follow. Their arrival will help put the DM40's performance into better perspective. Maxtor's drive, however, is the only announced unit that incorporates more than 3 platters in an assembly. Thus, if you need 40 gigs of storage in a 1" high drive, the DiamondMax 40 is your only ticket.

Maxtor DiamondMax 40 94098U8
Estimated Price: $349
Also Available: : 93073U6 (30.7 GB); 92049U4 (20.5 GB); 91024U2 (10.2 GB)
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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