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IBM Deskstar 40GV DTLA-305040
  August 31, 2000 Author: Eugene Ra  
Evaluation unit provided by


IBM generated much buzz with the announcement of its 15 GB/platter Deskstar 75GXP. As is often the case, Big Blue's drive was ahead of the competition. Unusually, however, folks were actually able to buy the drive well before the competition matched its specs. Announced alongside the 75GXP was the 5400 RPM Deskstar 40GV. IBM had sat out of the previous 10 GB/platter and even 15 GB/platter announcements in favor of delivering the world's first 20 GB/platter disk.

The 40GV is somewhat of a new beast to IBM. Big Blue seems to have given the "value market" a nod with this newest 5400 RPM drive. Previous IBM entries dating all the way back to the 16GP featured flagship units that packed 5 platters into a single 1" high low-profile design. Over the years, this unique configuration enabled the manufacturer to deliver capacities that exceeded the competition. In a somewhat puzzling move, this time around IBM declined the opportunity to combine 20 GB/platter with its industry-leading 5-disk design, forfeiting the right to the "world's first 100 GB drive."

This Deskstar features just two platters in its flagship design that yield a capacity of 40 gigabytes. 40 gigs is nothing to sneeze at. However, with companies such as Maxtor forging ahead with capacities of up to 80 gigs in a single drive, its strange that IBM, out of pride if nothing else, hasn't felt the need to "keep up." The 40GV's other features are similarly budget-minded. Specified seek time is a leisurely 9.5 milliseconds. The drive's buffer is just 512k, a bit smaller than the 2 meg standard that we're used to these days. Despite the drive's value status, however, a full three-year warranty protects the unit.

Let's take a look at how the 40GV's low-level measurements stack up.

WB99/Win2k Low-Level Measurements

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Click here to examine the STR graph for this drive

As the first drive to pack 20 gigs of data on a single platter, the Deskstar 40GV's sequential transfer rates should be top-rate. The 40GV is the first 5400 RPM drive that manages to break the 30 MB/sec barrier with its score of 30.3 MB/sec in its outer zone. Curiously, however, its inner track speed of 14.9 MB/sec falls short of the 15 GB/platter Maxtor DiamondMax 60 and even the 10 GB/platter Seagate U10.

The 40GV's access time measures out at 14.7 milliseconds... slightly better than the 15 ms one would expect from an advertised 9.5 ms seek. Nonetheless, this figure is a bit higher than leaders such as the Quantum Fireball lct10 and the Samsung Spinpoint V10200 (and even the 9.5 ms DiamondMax 60).

Let's turn to the high-level Disk WinMarks to see how these scores translate into application performance.

WB99/Win2k WinMarks

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Scores turned in by the Deskstar 40GV in the ZD Disk WinMarks aren't enough to keep up with category-leading drives such as the Western Digital Caviar WD450AA or the Maxtor DiamondMax 60. In the Business Disk WinMark 99, Big Blue's drive lags behind offerings from WD/Maxtor by 14%. The margin increases in the High-End WinMark (despite the 40GV's superior transfer rates...), where the Deskstar falls behind by 18%.

The 40GV's scores, however, definitely aren't bottom tier. Despite not keeping up with Maxtor and WD, IBM manages to place its unit significantly ahead of drives from Quantum, Samsung, and Seagate. Compare the 40GV with Samsung's SpinPoint V10200, for example. In this match-up, we have IBM leading by margins of 24% and 28% respectively in the Business and High-End WinMarks.

Decent WinMark scores are only the start, however. How does the 40GV stack up in Intel's IOMeter? Read on and find out.

IOMeter Performance

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The Deskstar 40GV's IOMeter performance is quite respectable. A quick look at the IOMeter Workstation Index (a normalized average of Workstation Light, Medium and Heavy loads) reveals a score of 138 I/Os per second. This is enough to edge a long-time Leaderboard occupant, the Quantum Fireball lct10. Such a score also outpaces the Maxtor DiamondMax 60 and Western Digital Caviar WD450AA by margins of 11% and 13% respectively. Only Samsung's SpinPoint V10200 manages to remain untoppled. The Deskstar trails Samsung's unassuming drive by 2%.


IBM's drive runs cool to the touch even after extended use... exactly what one should expect from a two-disk, 5400 RPM unit. The drive is quiet, though not in the same league as the Samsung SpinPoint V10200 or the 7200 RPM Fujitsu MPF-AH. Idle noise is audible without opening our testbed's case (this can, of course, be said about virtually every other drive save Samsung and Fujitsu). Seeks are quite muted... among the quietest we've heard, though again louder than Sam and Fuji.

The Safe Buy Award

Simply put, this designation means we'd purchase this product without regret. Sure, there may be a slightly better, slightly faster, and/or slightly less-expensive model from a competitor, but you can't go wrong with this particular unit. This award is applicable, of course, to all units at the top of their class, but also applies to units that, though not quite best-of-class, provide a strong showing nonetheless. All in all, the Deskstar 40GV is quite an attractive package. Despite its 9.5 ms seek time and 512k buffer, this value drive offers category-leading performance. It balances scores between WinBench 99 and IOMeter, satisfying (or perhaps displeasing?) proponents of each benchmark. To us, IOMeter scores approaching that of the Samsung SpinPoint are impressive. Though the IBM doesn't quite surpass the Samsung, it offers up to twice the capacity of the Korean drive. IBM undoubtedly enjoys a better reputation than Samsung- most users probably trust Big Blue more. Finally, the drive can be had from many more resellers than Samsung's scarce unit. The Deskstar 40GV is fast, cheap, cool, quiet, and available. What more could you ask?

IBM Deskstar 40GV - DTLA-305040
Estimated Price: $180
Also Available: DTLA-305030 (30 GB); DTLA-305020 (20 GB)
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