The Fireball lct's low-level scores provide an interesting contrast to those turned in by the Maxtor DiamondMax VL20. As one would expect from it's advertised seek time
, the lct brings the fastest access time
we've yet seen from a 5400rpm drive. It slides by the VL20's access time scores by margins of more than a millisecond. Sounds insignificant, doesn't it? Perhaps, but that same margin of difference is what one experiences in rotational latency
reduction when jumping from 7200rpm to 10,000rpm operation. As one would expect, the VL20's higher linear data density
allow it to transfer data at rates
up to 5 MB/sec faster than the lct. How do these differences translate into high-level performance, though?
The Fireball comes out on top in Win9x WinBench 99 scores. It bests the DiamondMax by a 3% margin in the Business Disk WinMark and a 12% margin in the High-End WinMark. The lct loses some ground to the VL20 in NT, however, where it trails the Maxtor drive by 4% in Business tests and 2% in the High-End.
ThreadMark tests place the lct 9% behind the VL20 in Win9x and a whopping 25% behind in NT. As we've cautioned several times in the past, however, ThreadMark results are not as reliable a guide to real-world performance as WinBench is.
The lct operates quietly, perhaps just a bit louder than the DiamondMax VL20. Perhaps this can be attributed to the larger (yet faster) actuator found in the lct. It spreads its data over three platters as opposed to Maxtor's two disks. Heat, as one may expect, isn't an issue.
Overall, the Fireball lct holds its own quite well when compared to the DiamondMax VL20. A decent showing when one consideres that the lct is really a competitor to the yet-to-be-reviewed-yet-older DiamondMax VL17. The 10.2 gig/platter lct10 is more proper competition. We hope to get our hands on both the VL17 and the lct10 shortly. Again, however, we should point out that value drives such as these are more likely to be used in especially cost-conscious situations (the 4.3 gig lct, for example, is projected to have a street price of less than $100), not in power-using StorageReview.com-reader rigs. Even if you prefer the quiet and cool operation of a 5400rpm drive, non-value offerings from Maxtor and Western Digital would fit the bill better.