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Fujitsu MPF3xxxAT MPF3204AT
  October 16, 2000 Author: Eugene Ra  


Though the industry currently rests upon the dawn of the 20 GB/platter ATA drive, we've decided to take a step back and flesh out our look at the previous generation of drives with a review of Fujitsu's MPF3204AT. Fujitsu, as well as other manufacturers, have either announced or started to ship next-generation drives with areal densities that contribute significantly to capacity and performance. Even so, one may find some of these older units available in channels. Completeness of the Database never hurts either .

Fujitsu's "AT" designation has always been reserved for units featuring 5400 RPM spindle speeds... the MPF-AT is no exception. Seek time is 9.5 milliseconds, in line with value offerings from other manufacturers. Buffer size also rests at 512k, a value standard only recently breached by Maxtor with its brand-new DiamondMax VL40. A three-year warranty protects the drive.

Let's turn to the benchmarks and see how the MPF-AT measures up.

WB99/Win2k Low-Level Measurements

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Click here to examine the STR graph for this drive

The MPF-AT turns in a disappointingly high access time of 17.4 milliseconds. Subtracting the standard 5.6 milliseconds of latency associated with 5400 RPM spindle speeds yields a measured seek time of 11.8 ms... well over the manufacturer's claim. Such misses are unfortunately becoming more common these days. The Seagate U10, for example, claims an 8.9 ms seek time but measures out with a 17.7 ms access time.

Outer zone transfer rates top out at 23.8 MB/sec, right in line with the competition. Ditto for the drive's inner-track score of 14.4 MB/sec.

WB99/Win2k WinMarks

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The MPF-AT's Business Disk WinMark 99 score sets a record... a record low, that is. Its score of 3.8 MB/sec comes in lower than the Seagate U8, our previous bottom-feeder when it comes to measurements in our new testbed. Note that this places the drive lower than even Quantum's 4400 RPM Fireball lct15. Poor thing.

The AT's High-End Disk WinMark 99 score, while still low, comes closer to figures posted by the competition. The Fujitsu's score of 9.9 MB/sec brings it within 3% of competing drives from Samsung and Seagate. Such a score, however, lags far behind category-leading drives such as the Caviar and DiamondMax.

IOMeter Performance

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A score of 121.41 in our IOMeter Workstation Index (a normalized average of light, medium and heavy loads) places the MPF-AT in the middle of the pack. It hangs in there against offerings from Maxtor and Western Digital but can't quite keep up with a drive such as the Samsung SpinPoint V10200... a unit the Fujitsu trails by 14%.


As one may always expect from Fujitsu's drives, the MPF-AT offers very quiet and cool operation. Interestingly, however, Fujitsu's own 7200 RPM MPF-AH bests its slower brother when it comes to utter lack of idle noise. Perhaps it's due to the AH's use of fluid bearings... or maybe it's due to our AH sample being a single-platter unit. Even so, however, the AT is one of the quietest drives around.

In conclusion, it's difficult to recommend the MPF-AT to users. When it comes to performance, there's simply too many appealing alternatives from competitors. And if ultra-quiet operation is one's goal, the 7200 RPM Fujitsu MPF-AH combines better performance with quieter operation. Indications are, however, that Fujitsu is aiming to change the sluggishness of the AT line with its next-generation 20 GB/platter unit with the introduction of a "performance" mode to compliment "quiet" operation. It seems we'll finally be able to review a Fujitsu drive when it represents the peak of disk technology rather than as an afterthought. We can't wait!

Fujitsu MPF3xxxAT MPF3204AT
Estimated Price: $129
Also Available: MPF-3153AT (15.3 GB); MPF-3102AT (10.2 GB)
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