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Maxtor DiamondMax Plus 2500 91000D8

  June 28, 1998 Author: Eugene Ra  
See also our Summer 1998 ATA Drive Roundup
See also our Drive Cooler Roundup
Evaluation unit provided by Maxtor Corp.

About three months ago Maxtor surprised everyone by shipping their unassuming DiamondMax 2880 family of drives, coincidentally around the same time that Seagate shipped its much-hyped 7200rpm Medalist Pro. As it turned out, the DiamondMax 2880 held up very well in comparison, beating-out the Medalist Pro in many performance tests.

Though it seems the 2880 family is still wet behind the ears, Maxtor has already moved forward and shipped two more families of drives: the high-capacity DiamondMax 3400 (coming to you in a review shortly) and their first 7200rpm drive, the DiamondMax Plus 2500, the subject of this review.

The DiamondMax Plus 2500ís major claim to fame, of course, is its 7200rpm spindle speed. These faster rotation speeds plus the high areal densities found in the ATA landscape are paving the way for some blazingly fast units. The 2500, as one can guess, packs 2.5GB per platter, actually a slight step backwards from the 2.9GB/platter of the 2880. The 2500ís seek time remains at 9.0 milliseconds. Additionally, the 2500 is the first DiamondMax drive to feature a large 512k buffer.

"Both new drives have been in volume production at Maxtorís Singapore plant for several weeks and begin shipping this month." Another nice thing about Maxtor is that they, unlike their competitors, donít have a penchant for announcing a product months before they can actually deliver. The above quote was lifted straight from a middle-of-June press release by the company. Prospective buyers should be able to find the 2500 available for purchase from a variety of retailers. The unit tested in this review was a white-box evaluation sample provided by Maxtor, but it is reasonable to assume that the retail boxes will be blessed with all the extras that DiamondMax drives commonly provide.

ZDBopís Winbench 98 along with Adaptecís 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 is presented below.

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This is a hot drive! Benchmark figures posted by the DiamondMax Plus 2500 are up at the top, neck and neck with the IBM Deskstar 14GXP. The Maxtor lagged slightly behind the IBM by margins of 3-5% in WinBench/Win95 tests, but the situation was reversed under NT. The 2500 edged past the 14GXP by 3% in the High-End and bested the IBM by a substantial 11% in the Business Disk WinMark. It is interesting to note that the 2500 broke the 2000 KB/s and 5000 KB/s barriers in the Business and High-End disk WinMarks under Windows NT respectively. This places it in pretty exalted company; previously, only the 10,000rpm SCSI units managed such a showing. The DiamondMax family has never suffered from the vexing Threadmark figures that plague the Deskstar series. The Plus 2500 blew past the Deskstar 14GXP by about 25%.

This is a hot drive! Oh, I said that already? No, literally, the Plus 2500 is a hot drive. Placed in a drive cooler for benchmarking, the drive felt warm after extended use. This is usually an indicator for trouble, and sure enough, when removed from the cooler and placed in a 5.25" drive bay using standard rails, the drive ran hot. Not quite as hot as the original 9.1GB Seagate Medalist Pro, but definitely warmer than either the 6.5GB Medalist Pro or the Deskstar 14GXP. This is definitely in 7200rpm SCSI drive territory. Play it safe and use a drive cooler. Surprisingly, the 7200rpm Maxtor is no louder than its 5400rpm predecessors at idle nor while seeking. Noise is simply not a problem with this drive. It makes me wonder about those Seagate fluid bearings.

All in all, like the DiamondMax 2880, the Plus 2500 is a pleasant surprise. A month ago, Iíd have never guessed that the Deskstar 14GXP would be challenged for supremacy so soon. Though I see the IBM slowly entering distribution (the 10GB version erroneously labeled as the "10GXP" by a few resellers), the Maxtor offers better performance in most cases and will probably be more readily available for purchase. Caveats? Again, the drive runs very warm without active cooling. Also, itís too bad that Maxtorís "Formula4" assembly method seems to limit them to four platters per drive. With a slightly higher areal density and a fifth platter squeezed in, the largest Deskstar 14GXP offers over 40% more room. Then again, 10 gigs of storage space, even today, is considered roomy, isnít it? Quibbles aside, one thingís for sure: When it comes to ATA performance, the DiamondMax Plus 2500 is the drive to beat!

Maxtor DiamondMax Plus 2500 91000D8
Estimated Price: $390
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* Note: All reported test results are the average of five trials.


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