Despite its improved access time
, the DiamondMax Plus 45 runs into trouble when compared to the best from the competition (the IBM Deskstar 75 GXP
and the Quantum Fireball Plus LM
). In the IOMeter Workstation
Index (a normalized average of Light, Medium and Heavy loads), the Maxtor lags category-leading Quantum's offering by a significant 15%. The Plus 45's score of 142.82 actually trails that of its predecessor, the DiamondMax Plus 40, by about 1%.
What has happened here? A closer look at the individual IOMeter load scores yields an answer. By nature of its superior access time, the Plus 45 posts better scores than the Plus 40 in Linear, Very Light, and Light situations. By the time the I/O depth reaches Medium or Heavy, however, the Plus 40 leads. As a result, we've got to conclude that firmware/caching algorithms that aren't conducive to top-flight IOMeter scores are inhibiting the Plus 45's superior mechanics.
Did Maxtor's firmware tweaks that yielded improvements in WinBench 99 hurt its IOMeter scores? That may very well be the case. Why would a manufacturer do so? After all, StorageReview.com readers know that we weigh IOMeter scores more heavily than WinBench 99 results. We should take a moment to note that even SCSI heavyweights Seagate and Quantum believe that WinBench 99 is a much more accurate measure of workstation disk performance than our IOMeter Workstation access pattern. Why? According to the engineers, while workstation disk accesses -are- predominately random in nature, these random seeks tend to occur over a tight area. In other words, the actuator will access data within a relatively tight cluster of tracks for many seeks before encountering a request requiring a long stroke. After such a movement, requested data again continues to be in a confined area. While IOMeter can simulate the random/sequential balance well, it can't in its current incarnation simulate this "localized" activity.
Again, according to manufacturer engineers, it is this localized activity that elevates the ineffable (at least at the review level) buffer/caching/firmware algorithms and strategies to the forefront when it comes to workstation performance. Thus, manufacturers such as Seagate and Quantum fully stand by WB99 results that show the Cuda ATA II and Fireball Plus LM substantially outperforming the SCSI Barracuda 18XL and Atlas V. These manufacturers do agree that IOMeter is the best measure in database and file server situations, where accesses are completely random and not localized in nature.
So, according to Seagate and Quantum, the Maxtor DiamondMax Plus 45 is one hot drive, despite its mediocre IOMeter showing .
The Diamondmax Plus 45's heat and noise levels are par for the 7200 RPM course. Though it isn't nearly as quiet as the Fujitsu MPF-AH or the Samsung SpinPoint V10200, the Plus 45's noise should be tolerable by most... it's along the same lines as its predecessor. Several hours of extensive churning (IOMeter's default, completely random access pattern) resulted in a drive warm, not hot, to the touch.
So, where does the Maxtor DiamondMax Plus 45 rank in the grand scheme of things? If you agree with manufacturers that WinBench 99 is the ultimate measure of workstation performance, it does very well indeed. The Plus 45 vies with the IBM Deskstar 75GXP as the fastest ATA drive ever. If, however, you find IOMeter to correlate better with your own observations, the Plus 45 is far from anything to write home about. For our part, we believe the Deskstar 75GXP successfully defends its crown as the best 7200 RPM drive around. The IBM posts WinBench 99 scores that are the equal of the Maxtor while also delivering IOMeter results that rival the Quantum Fireball Plus LM; truly the best of both worlds. At an estimated street price of $179, however, the Plus 45 is subtantially less costly than the 75GXP. So, if you need a drive less expensive than the 75GXP but larger than the Fireball Plus LM, consider the DiamondMax Plus 45.