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Reviewed by: Norman Tan [04.19.05]
Manufactured by: Hitachi, Maxtor, Seagate, Western Digital

NOTE: If you are curious about SATA-II, 3 Gb/s, and what that means for performance in various RAID configurations, please see our new article!



The last time we did a HDD review here at HCW was in 2003 where Ed and Carl took a look at what was at the time, the fastest HDs around. Things have certainly changed since then with the even larger disk sizes as well as almost wide-spread adoption of SATA drives. We're even beginning to see SATA II drives on the market that offer an interface speed of 3.0Gb/sec as compared to the 1.5Gb/sec offered by SATA. Of course, we don't expect to see real world performance close to that, but we can certainly hope!

Though the transition to SATA II is happening slowly, one feature that is gaining widespread adoption is Native Command Queuing which basically means that the hard drive re-orders I/O requests in a manner as to minimize any performance penalty associated with the drive's rotational latency. 

Finally, we've seen an overall trend in the increase of cache sizes. A few years ago, 2mb caches were still quite popular, but nowadays, most come with 8mb and there are even those with 16mb of cache! We'll see later on in this review whether or not they help.  

So without further ado, here's a picture of the drives that we have rounded up for this 'next gen' comparison. Starting from the bottom and going up, we have a Seagate Barracuda 7200.8 400gb SATA drive, a Maxtor DiamondMax 10 250gb SATA drive, a Western Digital 74gb SATA drive and finally, a Hitachi Deskstar T7K250 SATA II drive.

Let's take a closer look at each drive.

Next Page: (Maxtor DiamondMax 10, Hitachi Deskstar T7K250)