Have you ever found yourself standing in the checkout isle of a store, wishing that you could buy every single flavor of gum, every single brand of TV, and every last pair of shoes so you could find out which one you like the most? Its unfortunate that advertising cannot always be as truthful as wed like it to be, and if there was ever an industry in which advertising sold more products that sheer quality it would be the computer hardware industry. The computer hardware industry simply changes too quickly for any one person to stay on top of it all, which is where the advertising strength of one company will give their products the edge over those that dare compete, even those that are superior in quality and performance.

Case in point would be the fixed disk storage market. The amount of attention given to the latest in CPUs, video cards, memory and even motherboard trends generally outweighs the latest innovations in hard disk technology by an incredible factor. When it comes to buying a hard drive, at the end of an expensive system configuration spending spree, most consumers tend to spend whatever money they have left in their budget on purchasing the most storage available for the price. For a user that cares about nothing more than storage, this approach is an intelligent one. But for the performance user, if youve funneled a good $1500 into a speedy system, a sluggish yet expensive hard drive may end up being the bottleneck your brand new computer is blessed with right out of the box.

AnandTechs solution? We grabbed the corporate card and went shopping, dropping by TC Computers Website, AnandTech picked up 8 of the top selling Ultra ATA 33/66 Hard Drives available at the time.

This first installment in a number of bi-monthly segments will deal with a realistic approach to comparing the performance of some of the most popular drives you will encounter when attempting to complete that high-performance system. The drives in this initial installment, as well as all to come in the future, will be rated according to real world performance under Windows 98 and Windows NT, as well as according to price current of the date of the publication of the article.

Each installment will build on the previous, including all previously tested drives as well as the new additions for the particular update. By the end of AnandTechs investigation, a winner will be crowned, and a greater understanding of the general performance trends will hopefully be attained.

The Drives

* Ultra ATA/66 Drives

The Drives


Rotational Speed Cache Interface
IBM Deskstar 14GXP

7200 RPM


Ultra ATA/33
IBM Deskstar 16GP 5400 RPM 512KB Ultra ATA/33
Fujitsu MPC310AT 5400 RPM 256KB Ultra ATA/33
Maxtor DiamondMax 4320 5400 RPM 512KB Ultra ATA/33
Quantum Fireball EX 5400 RPM 512KB Ultra ATA/33
Seagate Medalist ST34321A 5400 RPM 128KB Ultra ATA/33
Western Digital Caviar 8.4GB 5400 RPM 256KB Ultra ATA/33
Western Digital Caviar 20.4GB 5400 RPM 2MB Ultra ATA/66

Western Digital Expert 9.1GB

7200 RPM 2MB Ultra ATA/66
Setting up the test
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