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IBM Deskstar 16GP DTTA-351680

  July 13, 1998 Author: Eugene Ra  
See also our Summer 1998 ATA Drive Roundup

IBM's Deskstar 16GP is the other drive that has kept many waiting breathlessly for its eventual release. It's been shipping for a while now... Was it worth the wait?

IBM Deskstar 16GPLike its sibling, the Deskstar 14GXP, the 16GP uses IBM's giant-magnetoresistive heads to pack huge amounts of data on a single platter, in this case 3.4 GB. The new IBM drives also push forward in platter count, managing to fit up to five disks in single 1" high enclosure. As a result, the drive tested in this review, the DTTA-351680, holds a massive 16.8 gigabytes of data! Unlike the 14GXP, the 16GP sports a more conventional spindle speed of 5400rpm. Buffer size and seek time weigh in at 512k and 9.5 milliseconds, respectively. The drives feature a 3-year warranty. Unlike the 14GXP, which aims only for the high-end ATA market, the 16GP spans a full spectrum of capacities, from the flagship's lofty 16.8 gigs down to an inexpensive 3.4 gig unit. I'm sure that the Deskstar 5/8 will eventually be phased out entirely in favor of the 16GP.

As is the case with too many drives, the Deskstar 16GP gestated quite a bit between its initial press release (pre-1998!) and volume shipment. The unit tested here was an OEM bare-drive version. Retail versions with all the trimmings (cables, rails, screws, software, big manual, etc.) are also starting to appear in stores. Our test sample installed without a hitch.

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 is presented below.

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The Deskstar 16GP joins the others as one of the fastest 5400rpm drives available, although its NT performance is lukewarm compared to the competition. IBM and Maxtor are the two companies that are pushing the limits in ATA drive manufacturing, whether it be areal densities, spindle speeds (well, ok Seagate, have your pat on the back too), and capacity. The most logical SR database comparison for the 16GP is the DiamondMax 3400, as the two are the only currently shipping drives that feature a platter density greater than 3 gigs. In such a match-up, the IBM edges out the Maxtor under WinBench/Win95 results by margins of 6%. The DiamondMax returns the favor (by 4-9%), however, under NT. Under Adaptec's Threadmark, the Maxtor plows ahead in Windows 95 and NT by margins of 11% and 21% respectively.

It's interesting to note that the Deskstar 16GP performs very similarly to another 5400rpm contender, the Quantum Fireball EL. Aside from the Business Disk WinMark in NT (where the IBM lags by 12%) and Threadmark under Windows 95 (where IBM pulls head by 5%),  the drives perform within a 1% margin of each other. Neat .

The 16GP runs warmer and is louder than the remarkable Deskstar 5/8. Though it features only 5400rpm rotation speed, the drive felt just as warm as the 7200prm Deskstar 14GXP after extended use. In a well-ventilated case it may be manageable, but if you're operating in cramped quarters, you many want to consider a drive cooler. Noise-wise, the drive is a notch louder than the Deskstar 8, which puts it in the same category as current offerings from Maxtor and Western Digital. (Still quiet, mind you, compared to most SCSI drives.)

Overall, the Deskstar 16GP is a viable new offering from one of the leaders in the ATA landscape. Its high areal density and five-platter construction make it the largest 1" high drive currently available. If you simply must have the most space possible in the smallest, single drive package, this 16.8GB drive is for you. Otherwise, heat issues should give you cause to reconsider. No, it's not a burning-hot drive, but the same performance with more conventional 5400rpm operating temperature is available at the same price at the same capacity levels (excepting only the 16 gig model) from the DiamondMax 2880/3400 series. Something to think about.

IBM Deskstar 16GP DTTA-351680
Estimated Price: $500
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* Note: All reported test results are the average of five trials.


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