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IBM Deskstar 8 DHEA-38451

  March 19, 1998 Author: Eugene Ra  
See also our Summer 1998 ATA Drive Roundup

IBM's 6.4GB Deskstar 5 took top honors in our 6.4 gig ATA drive roundup, claiming top scores in both the Business and High-End Disk WinMarks. Soon after the release of the Deskstar 5, IBM followed up with an 8.4 GB version, the Deskstar 8. This drive features 4 2.1 gig platters rotating at 5400 RPM, a 9.5 ms average seek time, and a 512k buffer. The drive is guaranteed by a three-year warranty.

IBM's retail distribution can be described as spotty at best. Once in a while a given electronics or computer superstore will stock the drives, only to revert back to carrying the familiar Western Digital and Maxtor lines after a few months. The drive used in this review was a bare kit ordered from a mail-order firm. As such, no documentation cables, rails, or software came in the package. The Deskstar 5 tested in the 6.4 gig roundup, a retail boxed version, featured a robust manual, cables, mounting rails, and software. It's probably safe to assume the retail version of the Deskstar 8 would provide similar amenities.

ZDBop's Winbench 98 along with Adaptec's ThreadMark 2.0 were both run on the unit in Windows 95 OSR 2.1 and Windows NT Workstation 4.0. The drive was partitioned into a single volume of maximum size. The average of 5 trials are presented below.

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The Deskstar 8 edges out its smaller counterpart by the slimmest of margins to post the highest Business and High-End Disk WinMark 98 scores we've yet seen under Windows 95. Under NT, the drive scores very similarly to the recently tested Maxtor DiamondMax 88400D8. Under Threadmark 2.0, however, the Deskstar's scores were somewhat mixed. The Windows 95 results, while edging out the Maxtor 8.4 gig drive, were noticeably lower than that of the Quantum Fireball SE. Similarly, with ThreadMark under NT, the IBM was bested by the Maxtor drive. This is an interesting testament to the lack of proportional results between various benchmarks on the same drive, and affirms our commitment to testing with both WinBench 98 and ThreadMark 2.0 under the two Windows Environments.

As is the case with many 5400 rpm drives, the Deskstar 8 ran relatively cool to the touch, easily handled after extensive use. Like the Deskstar 5, the 8 runs whisper-quiet. There's virtually no noticeable noise from the spinning platters and seeks are drowned out by the test bed's fan. If low noise is a top priority for you, the Deskstar series should definitely be your first consideration!

For the past several months the Deskstar 8 has enjoyed the reputation of being the fastest ATA drive available. While Winbench 98 under Windows 95 confirms the perception, the drive's performance advantage under Windows NT is less clear. The mediocre ThreadMark results, however, did not live up to our expectations. Nevertheless, strong business application performance combined with silent operation make the drive a top ATA recommendation, at least until Seagate's and IBM's 7200 rpm models hit the street.

IBM Deskstar 8 DHEA-38451
Estimated Price: $399
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* Note: All reported test results are the average of five trials.


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