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Quantum Viking II QM39100PX-SW

  April 24, 1998 Author: Eugene Ra  
See also our Summer 1998 SCSI Drive Roundup
See also our Drive Cooler Roundup

Quantum's 4.5 gig Ultra SCSI Viking provided outstanding value for the money in the Storage Review's recent SCSI drive roundup. Though the Seagate Hawk 4XL offered a similar price/performance ratio, the Viking was backed by a more SCSI-like 5 year warranty. Thus, it was with great anticipation that I started testing and using the Quantum Viking II- I wanted to see if the company could extend the line's auspicious start.

Quantum Viking II I intended to use the Ultra2 SCSI version of the Viking II, but somehow found myself with the regular Ultra SCSI (QM39100PX-SW) instead. Since I didn't need LVD's extended cable lengths and a single drive (no matter how fast) can't come close to the 40 meg/sec limit of UW SCSI, there's probably little difference between the performance of this UW drive vs. its U2W counterpart. The Viking's specs once again read as if it's a reduced, budget version of the company's flagship Atlas drive. It features 7200rpm spindle speed, five 1.8 gigabyte platters, and a 7.5ms seek time, all similar to the Atlas III. The Viking, however, features a smaller 512k buffer as opposed to the 1 meg that one gets with the top-end unit. Like its predecessor, the Viking II features a generous 5 year warranty.

I have to take a moment here and comment on the documentation that Quantum packages with its various drives. The manual consisted of a single folded sheet that was apparently written for the original Viking, as sizes of 2.28 and 4.56 are specified. All the settings and illustrations seemed to apply to the new drive, though. It may just be me, but I don't find it quite as easy to follow Quantum's diagrams as I do those of Seagate's and IBM's. I went ahead and located the jumper that needed to be removed to disable termination. For some reason, it was a struggle to get it off- much more difficult than I'm normally used to. I finally triumphed though . Installation went smoothly afterwards.

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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Once again, Quantum's Viking series outperforms the more expensive Atlas. The Viking II outperformed the Atlas III in WinBench 98 under Windows 95 by margins of 16-23%. Under NT, the disparity shrank, but was still a substantial 13-20%. ThreadMark results for the two Quantum drives were similar, the Viking scoring negligibly higher in Win95 while the Atlas posted a similarly irrelevant lead under NT.

It's also interesting to compare the Viking II with the IBM's entry level SCSI offering, the ever-popular Ultrastar 9ES. In WinBench 98 under both operating systems, the Viking managed to keep parity with or even beat the 9ES in almost all areas. Further, the Viking didn't suffer from the IBM's poor ThreadMark showings, posting solid, respectable scores in both Windows operating systems.

Though I ran the tests in a drive cooler, brief use outside of a cooling unit proved that the Viking II runs relatively cool for a 7200rpm SCSI unit. Like the Atlas III, it can be easily incorporated into a well-ventilated system without active cooling. The noise of the drive was a little perplexing. There was virtually no high-pitched squeal. Rather, there's a more midrange type whine, slightly rough or scratchy in nature, that's constantly present as the disk spins. It was very noticeable the first time I powered up the drive. Eventually, I became acclimated to the sound, unique as it was. Seek noise of the drive was similar to the Atlas III's- definitely noticeable, but still a class below the churning that one gets from the Seagate drives.

All in all, I'm happy to report that Quantum continues its tradition by offering excellent performance at a reasonable price with its Viking series. Once again the entry-level series outperforms the higher-priced Atlas III while comparing quite favorably to the IBM Ultrastar 9ES. It doesn't boast the quiet operation that the 9ES offers, but it does offer more robust performance. Although its hard to make a final proclamation with Seagate's SCSI Medalist Pro waiting in the wings, as of now, the Viking II is my entry-level SCSI drive of choice.

Quantum Viking II QM39100PX-SW
Estimated Price: $750
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* Note: All reported test results are the average of five trials.


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