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    IBM 120GXP 80gig

    *Note* Thanks to Directron for providing this product for review; you can buy it here.

    Contrary to recent belief, IBM makes some nice quality drives. Some of their older GXP drives had issues, but every manufacturer has a bad run (people still curse Maxtor and Western Digital for past problems). Recently I was considering either two Maxtor 40gig 7200rpm drives in RAID, but I noticed people who had that setup and were getting similar scores with a single IBM 120GXP 80gig 7200rpm drive. I decided on getting the IBM, and will compare it to the Maxtor 40gig (I expect the IBM to win, but by how much?). First up, the pictures:

    Looks decent, of course looks don't really matter for a hard drive. I didn't get any accessories with the drive (bought the OEM version) so that's pretty much it. Installation easy, but this drive seemed to really grip the power cable. I had to get a pair of pliers to pull it out. I suppose this could be a good thing if you plan on never removing the drive.

    First impressions: the drive is fast, but is a little louder than the Maxtor. Also there's a bit of a high-pitch whine. Not the kind that indicates impeding doom, just a normal sound for this drive. Noise wouldn't really be an issue, as I'd probably end up using two Maxtors if the IBM doesn't have amazing speed; but the high-pitch sound is something that is very annoying to me personally. Again it's not that loud, I'm just sensitive to high-pitch sounds. I might think twice about using it in a desktop for this reason, but for a server that's further than five feet from you, it doesn't make a difference. Now, on to the benchmarks!

    Both drives were tested in this system:
    AMD Athlon XP 2000+
    Epox 8K3A Motherboard
    512MB DDR 266
    Windows 98 with all updates
    98lite Chubby install (slims down Win98)

    I used HDTach for benching the drives. It doesn't show the true burst rate (it was made before ATA/100 and ATA/133 were common), but otherwise gives a good representation of the drive. Note I tested both drives with my fsb at 133MHz then at 140MHz; if you're not into overclocking, then only worry about the 133MHz benchmarks. First, let's check the Maxtor 40gig out.

    Maxtor 40gig with 133MHz fsb:

    Maxtor 40gig with 140MHz fsb:

    Looks ok, now let's see how the IBM 80gig stacks up.

    IBM 80gig with 133MHz fsb:

    IBM 80gig with 140MHz fsb:

    The IBM is definitely faster, but not by the huge margin I was expecting. Rather the IBM was as fast as expected, but the Maxtor performed better than expected. Oddly, the read speeds did not increase much with the bus speed, instead they actually decreased sometimes (I double-checked the results to make sure I wasn't mixing up the pictures...you can tell the bus speed was higher because the cpu utilization in those pictures is lower, as it should be). The higher cpu-utilization should not be held against the IBM, as it was offset by the higher read speeds. Also the seek time was lower, 7.9 vs 8.9 for the Maxtor.

    For the price, I would probably get one IBM 80gig drive before I got two Maxtor 40gigs and set them up in RAID. If I was going to setup RAID, I would likely opt to use two IBM 80gig drives instead. The only disadvantage the IBM has is it is ATA 100 vs the Maxtor's ATA 133. Still, the IBM would make a nice RAID setup (which I plan on testing once I get a second IBM drive).

    All in all both drives are nice, I would not hesitate to get either for a server. For a desktop machine, I might lean towards the Maxtor, simply because it's a little quieter.

    Questions? Ask in the forum or email me.

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