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Maxtor DiamondMax 3400 91360D8

  July 2, 1998 Author: Eugene Ra  
See also our Summer 1998 ATA Drive Roundup
Evaluation unit provided by Maxtor Corp.

Along with the screaming DiamondMax Plus 2500, Maxtor has also begun shipping the DiamondMax 3400, a drive that packs a gargantuan 3.4 gigabytes per platter. That puts the driveís areal density at a level higher than that of both IBM Deskstar 16GP and the recently announced Quantum Fireball EX. Aside from the increased density, the other specifications read much like that of the DiamondMax 2880 series, with a 9.0 millisecond access time, 5400rpm spindle speed, and a 256k buffer. The drive features a 3 year warranty.

The unit tested here is a bare evaluation sample provided by Maxtor. If it hasnít already, the drive should be hitting retail shelves shortly; weíve already seen it in stock at various mail-order houses. Installation went smoothly.

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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The DiamondMax 3400 performed, well, like a big DiamondMax 2880. A quick check using the Storage Review database shows that the performance of the 3400 and the 2880 series all fall within a tight 3% margin, with only the Threadmark 95 spread pushing the limit to a whopping 4% . Due to both the size and uniformity of the differences, itís quite possible that they are attributable only to tolerances within drive manufacturing. Though the 2880 was on top, itís just as likely that the situation would have ended up reversed.

The relationship between the two drives follows a trend set by the Deskstar 5/Deskstar8 and the Western Digital Caviar AC36400/AC38400. Within each pair, the larger drive performed negligibly faster than the smaller unit despite the formerís increased areal density.

Keep in mind that 2880-like performance is nothing to sneeze at. Until IBMís Deskstar 14GXP and Maxtorís own DiamondMax Plus 2500 came along, the 2880 was the fastest ATA drive around. Sure, itís a little disappointing to see areal density increases have no performance impact here, but apparently such things will happen occasionally .
Remember also that areal density improvements are the primary reason for ever-higher capacities and ever-lower prices. Weíre always happy to see it increase!

The 3400 overall is a competent drive. If youíre looking for the ultimate in ATA performance, youíll have to turn to the slightly-more-expensive-per-megabyte Plus 2500 series. If capacity per dollar is your concern, though, the 3400 should be on your short-list. But the DiamondMax 2880 should remain too. Between the two, get whichever gives you more capacity for the money.

Maxtor DiamondMax 3400 91360D8
Estimated Price: $430
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* Note: All reported test results are the average of five trials.


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