Maxtor DiamondMax 160
GB Plus 9 Review
The internet is
available to pretty much everyone these days and the number of people succumbing
to the “broadband bug” is growing at an unimaginable rate. Kids may come up with
many elaborate excuses to get their way with their parents, such as “I need it
for school” or “Everyone else has it, why can’t we?”, but in the end we all know
the world of peer-to-peer sharing is not oblivious to kids these days. This
isn’t to say its just kids doing these things… ;-)
I’m not going to turn this into a rant of some sort, or an editorial stating
which side of the issue I am on. I’m merely telling you what you’ve most likely
already heard or come across before. There’s actually thousands of websites and
many tools users can utilize to acquire this material, but I’m not going to
disclose nor comment on these because I don’t feel like having a law suit filed
against me right now...
The point is, hard drives these days are being filled up like never before.
I’m just here to review the storage; however you make use of it is up to you. On
that note, the amount of storage a single computer can have is enormous. At the
present time, hard drives can be found up to 300 GB in size. Not only that, you
can easily install multiple hard drives in a single system. The amount of
storage you can accumulate in your computer nowadays really only depends on how
fat your wallet is.
The packages I
received were OEM style white box with some courier information on it. Nothing
really special, no flashy packaging, but who needs that right? We’re more
interested in what is inside the packages. The only delay I encountered while
opening them up was when I couldn’t find anything sharp enough to pierce through
the packing tape. That was quickly solved and I was well on my way.
In the first
package, I found a box containing the PCI ATA adapter card. I’ll talk more about
that later in the review. In the other box, much to my surprise, I stared at
some packing peanuts and another box. After taking out the smaller box, and
cleaning up the mess I made with those peanuts. Those Russian dolls came to mind
as I started to wonder whether there would be another box inside this box. That
thought was quickly dispelled as inside this box I found some foam. Cut out
inside the foam, was a neat little holding cell for the hard drive nicely packed
in an ESD bag. Nice packaging job, that’s for sure!
||(2) Holding cell
Enough of my
rambling, let’s get to the actual goods that I'll be shoeing you today...
Ultra ATA/133 PCI Adapter Card:
First up for bids…or no not for bids, for showing, is the PCI adapter card.
It looks like watching “The Price is Right” on those boring weekday mornings has
to stop… Anyways, let’s check out the unit itself.
|(3) The box
||(4) Open Sesame!
As you can see, included was pretty much everything you will need. Inside the
PCI adapter box I found a “how to” guide, utilities/driver CD, the card itself,
and even an ATA133 IDE cable. Only thing I needed to provide on my own was the
needed screws to mount the drive. For those of you who don’t know, the “Ultra
ATA/133” part means that it supports a max throughput of 133MB/sec on ATA133
|(5) Card top
||(6) Card bottom
||(7) Top close up
|(8) Channels close up
||(9) Controller chip
Seen above is the
adapter card in all its glory. There is no need to memorize which channel is
which, as it’s clearly labeled for you. Something I should mention here is that
you are not only limited to attaching hard drives to the adapter. Any IDE device
can be attached and it will function just like how it would if it were attached
to the motherboard. That’s the whole point of having these things, so you can
more devices as necessary.
Seen in the last photo is the controller chip, which pretty much just
controls the transfer between the device and the PCI bus. Maxtor used a
controller chip manufactured by Promise Technology, INC on the card, as you can
DiamondMax Plus 9 160GB ATA/133:
The hard drive is the 2MB cache model for those of you who were wondering.
It is also available in an 8 meg cache ATA/133 model, and even Serial ATA models.
|(10) In ESD bag
||(11) ESD bag gone!
||(12) Head on
||(14) Underside Drive
Above is the drive in
an assortment of angles. What more can I say other than it looks exactly like
any other Maxtor hard drive. More specifics for the drive can be had
here, as well as info on the whole DiamondMax line. I will put the important
ones pertinent to this drive below for you. Remember to arm yourself with the
latest version of Adobe Acrobat Reader, which can be had
here, for no cost at all.
133/backwards compatible with slower standards
|Average seek time:
|| 4.2 ms
|| FBD (Fluid Dynamic Bearing)
Only 127 GB of
space shows up after formatting?:
Maxtor says in order to have large drives work, you NEED Windows 2000 or XP.
Due to the size of this drive, 160GB, it is NOT as easy as plugging it in and
having it work correctly. What I mean is that there is both a BIOS and Windows
limitation on the size of the drives they will recognize. If you just plug the
drive in and go to windows to format, it will only format to a max capacity of
127GB. It’s not because the formatting stops at the 127GB mark, it’s because
that is the size windows will recognize. One possible work around, I’ve heard,
is if you update Windows XP to SP1, it will recognize large drives without
problems. I haven’t done this myself, so I’m not sure if this works or not. If
someone would like to let me know if this does work, feel free to shoot me an
Another fix, which is a sure thing as this is what I did, is to download
MaxBlast 3 from Maxtor’s website. It can be found
here. All you need to do is download the utility, make sure you have a 3.5”
floppy drive with a formatted disk inside, and run the utility. It will do its
thing and make the floppy bootable. Next, restart your computer with the floppy
inside the floppy drive and attach the hard drive. Let it boot from the floppy,
select that you want to run MaxBlast from the floppy (F) and it will start-up.
It will automatically detect the large drive, and ask if you want to prepare the
drive for use on your system. Click “Yes”. Next it will ask you if you want a
basic setup or advanced setup. If any of you have formatted a drive on a Windows
2000/XP system through Disk Management, the options are fairly similar in the
advanced setup. For those of you who haven’t done that before, I suggest you do
nothing but keep clicking “next” until you are done :-) After you are done, it
will format the drive and restart. Upon restarting, there’s nothing more to be
done. Go to “My Computer” and the drive is formatted to its proper capacity. Now
you can go do your thing and do whatever you wish with about 160GB of storage
space. Remember, 160GB as deemed by the manufacturer does not mean 160GB will
show up in “My Computer”. That’s normal, and is due to the fact that a gigabyte
is based on the metric system. For example, a gigabyte is 1,000,000,000 bytes.
Your PC uses the binary system. The same kind of situation that exists in the
USA. They refuse to use metric measurements that the rest of the world uses.
Anyway, in the binary system, a gigabyte is 1,073,741,824 bytes. Hence, you do
lose space when you format your drive.
For older systems that experience problems while booting with larger drives,
keep reading. To overcome such BIOS limitations there is a fix. For this the
knowledge base at Maxtor is actually quite good.
This link explains the process much better than I would be able to, so check
it out. More searching yields more help if needed. :-)
There is a “Cap Limit” jumper on the back of this drive, which successfully
gets the bios to detect the drive as 32GB. That would alleviate the problem
faced by some with older motherboards as mentioned above, however the problem is
that the operating system also detects it as 32GB. Maxtor’s knowledge base says
that if you are using Windows 2000/XP, you should not use the Cap Limit jumper.
Instead you should use the above MaxBlast method. Even if you are using a
previous version of Windows, I assume this still holds true.
Plus 9 160 GB
160 GB Hard drive with PCI Adapter
Maxtor 60 GB ATA 133, 2 meg cache
Asus A7N8X (NForce2
chipset with onboard ATA/133 controller)
AMD Athlon XP 1700+ @ 1.7 GHz
Thermalright SLK–700 with Y.S. Tech TMD fan (5800RPM)
GeForce 2 MX
Creative Labs Sound Blaster Live! Value
Microsoft Windows XP
Samsung 8x8x32 CD-RW
HD Tach 2.61
Atto Disk Benchmark 2.02
HD Speed 188.8.131.52
Quick Bench 1.1
SiSoftware Sandra 2003
Performance will be compared between my own 60GB drive as well as the 160GB
drive. The 60GB drive was configured as the master device on IDE channel 1 and
the 160GB drive was also configured as the master device on IDE channel 2 when
the motherboard controller was used. This was also the case when the PCI
controller was used. There were no other devices on either channel at the time
of testing. The average of three runs is recorded below in each scenario.
HD Tach 2.61
|(16) Reading performance
||(17)Read burst rate
|(18) Random access
From the results above
it can be seen that the hard drive not only did well when compared between the
motherboard and PCI controller, but overall performance was quite commendable as
well. The differences between the motherboard and PCI controller is quite small
and likely won’t be noticed. One thing to remember while reading the above
benchmark results is that the 160GB drive had to maintain the speed over an
SiSoftware Sandra 2003
|(19) Look at that void!
Time for everyone’s favorite benchmark, Sandra!
Even though it is purely synthetic, it’s made itself quite a name in the
reviewing business. The results are pretty straight forward, with not much to
explain. The difference between the two drives is shown here fairly outright,
with the 160GB again in the lead.
|(20) HD Speed
That’s quite the
version number they got there… Once again, the performance is more or less neck
in neck. At this point I’m about ready to call it even. But just to be sure,
let’s take a couple more programs for a whirl.
Quick Bench 1.1
|(21) Quick Bench results
Again, not much of a difference between performance with respect to the
motherboard controller and the PCI adapter, but the drive seems to be doing
pretty well. Next up is the last program used to put the hard drive through its
Motherboard Read results
Motherboard Write results
|(24) Atto PCI Read results
||(25) Atto PCI Read results
According to the Atto disk benchmark results from above, it’s quite evident
that there is little difference between the motherboard controller and the PCI
controller. The disk performed quite nicely as well, reaching max speeds of
about 60,000 KB/s. Overall I am quite impressed.
In the end, the performance difference I found between the PCI adapter and
the motherboard controller was negligible. A few more or less MB/s here and
there isn’t anything to worry about, nor to care about. The drive itself benched
quite nicely, and I am quite pleased with the performance. When compared against
the 60GB drive, the 160GB fared quite well. As the saying goes, you win some and
you lose some. The noise level was also very reasonable, which is a big plus for
those of you who are massively inclined towards having the quietest computer
|“Quiet and high
performance. What more do you want?”
DiamondMax Plus 9 160GB S-ATA Drive Review
Maxtor, a company founded in 1982
with over 12,500 employees world wide is one of the leading storage
manufacturers in the world today, with its multi-billion dollar revenues
growing every year as Maxtor gains market share in the very crowded and
competitive world of the home and enterprise storage markets. Maxtor was one
of the chief promoters of the Serial ATA Working Group, along side Dell,
Intel, and Seagate among others. Seagate beat Maxtor to the punch by releasing
the first retail Serial ATA hard drive, which is widely available right now,
but as we saw in testing the new drives, there really was no performance gain
going from the Parallel ATA to the Serial ATA interface. The advantages of the
Serial ATA interface include thing and easy to maneuver data and power cables,
and of course the maximum throughput of the drives is increased to 150mb/s,
which is of course theoretical as current ATA drives never reach those speeds.
Maxtor taking a little more time
with their Serial ATA based hard drives has decided to implement some unique
features in their DiamondMax Plus 9 Serial ATA drives, including a 4 pin Molex
power connector along with a Serial ATA power connector. This is primarily
done because that Serial ATA power cable converters are relatively hard to
find, and when found cost on average $8-12. The standard 4 pin Molex power
connector does not really cause an airflow problem due to its small size, so
this 4 pin connection will be a welcome addition to many users interested in a
Serial ATA hard drive. Additionally, most motherboard manufacturers do not
include a Serial ATA power connector with their motherboards, making even more
sense as to why the 4 pin Molex power connection is on the Maxtor DiamondMax
Plus 9 160gb Serial ATA Hard Drive.
We've already seen how SATA drives
compare to ATA drives in previous reviews, so lets take a look at how the two
newest SATA drives stack up against each other, the Maxtor DiamondMax Plus 9
160gb Serial ATA Hard Drive and the Seagate Barracuda V 120gb Serial ATA Hard
Internal Transfer Rate
Max. External Transfer Rate
Average Seek Time
Bytes Per Sector
||+12 VDC +/-10% (amps typ
||0 to 60 °C
||26.1 x 101.85 x 146.56 mm
Drive Close Look:
As you can see from the top view of the
drive, the Maxtor DiamondMax Plus 9 160gb Serial ATA Hard Drive looks
exactly the same as a standard Parallel ATA hard drive, using the same form
factor and labeling as the rest of the Maxtor DiamondMax Plus 9 family.
Maxtor has not decided to do anything
drastic with the overall design of Maxtor DiamondMax Plus 9 160gb Serial ATA
drive, exposing the drive's PCB when turned over.
When turned onto the card's side you see
the three standard screw holes for mounting the drive into your enclosure.
Now when looking at the back of the card
we can see the features that set this drive apart from any other ATA drive
currently on the market. You can see the Serial ATA power connector (larger)
and the Serial ATA data connector (smaller) to the left of the drive, then
moving right you of course have the drive's jumpers, and then at the far
right we have the 4 pin Molex power connector that plugs easily into your
It's most likely going to be a while
until we see Serial ATA power cables imbedded with power supplies, so once
again I must say that this 4 pin power connection is a very welcome addition
to the Maxtor DiamondMax Plus 9 Serial ATA Hard Drive.
And once again you can
see the drive in all its glory, one thing I'd like to mention is that
because of the drive's FDB (fluid dynamic bearing) motors, the operation is
among the quietest of any hard drive tested, and the drive also runs
relatively cool for a 7200rpm drive, not requiring any external cooling like
some of the 10,000rpm SCSI drives we've tested.
Hardware Test Setup
- AMD Athlon XP 3000+ (333Mhz FSB)
- 2 x 512MB OCZ EL DDR 400 @ 2-2-2-6 sync
- Maxtor DiamondMax Plus 9 160gb SATA
- Seagate Barracuda V 120gb SATA
- ATI All-In-Wonder Radeon 9700 Pro
- Promise PDC20376 RAID Controller
Drivers, BIOS, OS Test Setup
- Windows XP Professional SP1
- nForce Chipset Driver v2.03
- Catalyst 3.1
- Desktop resolution 1024x768x32, 75Hz
- DirectX 8.1
- HD Tach 2.61
- SiSoft Sandra 2003
- Ziff Davis Winbench 99
HD Tach 2.61:
HD Tach is a low level, physical
performance hard drive test for Windows. Although it is a little dated, it
provides a lot of good information in regards to hard drive performance
particularly read speed and seektime.
Random access is the true measure of seek
speed, as it is the time it really takes to read data, not just the time it
takes to move the head to the proper cylinder. To calculate access time the
software must read a single sector off of the hard drive and by reading a
sector the drive can not respond to the command until the sector is available,
so rotational latency + seek time = access time.
Our Random Access Time results were very
simple, the Maxtor DiamondMax Plus 9 160gb Serial ATA Hard Drive outperformed
the Seagate Barracuda V 120gb SATA drive by .3ms, a substantial margin when
we're looking at hard drive speeds.
The maximum read speed is of course the
maximum read speed achieved throughout the HD Tach 2.61 testing, and we can
see the Maxtor DiamondMax Plus 9 160gb Serial ATA drive actually having a
maximum read speed thats 16mb/s faster than the Seagate Barracuda V's. Once
again, a very substantial difference in speed between both drives.
The HD Tach 2.61 minimum read speed scores
come in favor of the Seagate Barracuda V, whose minimum read speed is actually
6mb/s faster than the Maxtor DiamondMax Plus 9's.
However, when we move onto the average read
speed portion of the benchmark, Maxtor once again takes the performance crown
as it's average read speed is just under 11mb/s faster than the Seagate
SiSoft Sandra 2003:
SiSoft Sandra 2003 is the newest version of
the very popular benchmarking suite Sandra, a program filled with benchmarks
that test your CPU, memory, network, cd-rom, and of course hard drive. The
hard drive is tested through the file system benchmark, and is another good
indication of raw drive performance. Lets take a look at how the two SATA
drives faired in the test.
Like we've seen throughout our tests, the
Maxtor once again outperforms the Seagate SATA drive by once again, a
substantial amount. This time around the DiamondMax Plus 9 scored just under
8mb/s faster than the Barracuda V.
Ziff Davis Winbench 99:
Ziff Davis' Winbench 99 is one of the older
benchmarking suites still widely used today by many to test the performance of
their drives in various applications, such as business and high end
applications. The latest version is version 2.0, but even though the program
is dated, it provides very relevant and accurate information about hard drive
performance using the various Disk Winmark's provided in the suite.
In our Business Disk Winmark tests you can
see the Maxtor SATA drive once again score significantly higher than the
Seagate Barracuda V SATA drive, outperforming the Seagate by a score of 2600
Concluding our benchmarks is the High End
Disk Winmark from Winbench 99, and once again we see the Maxtor DiamondMax
Plus 9 160gb Serial ATA Hard Drive taking the Seagate Barracuda V 120gb Serial
ATA drive to school, this time outperforming the Seagate by 12700 kb/s.
A few months ago, people were very
skeptical about Maxtor's line of Serial ATA hard drives, primarily due to the
fact that the line was delayed and no reasons were given. This delay opened up
a time window for Seagate to release their line of Serial ATA hard drives, the
Barracuda V's. However, the Barracuda V performance was basically on par with
the current parallel ATA drives around and did not offer too much in terms of
performance in any benchmark we've tested with. This led many people to forgo
the Serial ATA standard, even though many of their motherboard supported it,
as parallel ATA was clearly equally if not faster in many cases, and cost less
My, what difference a few months can make.
With Maxtor finally introducing their first SATA drives, we can see the delay
was worth it, as they have come out with a truly unique SATA hard drive
solution. For starters, they have foreseen that many users would like to use
their standard 4 pin Mo-lex power supply connection on the drive, and built
that right into the card. Using their fluid dynamic bearing motors they have
released a drive that is not only among the quietest 7200rpm drives on the
market, but is also superior to other SATA drives on the market in terms of
We saw the Maxtor DiamondMax Plus 9 160gb
Serial ATA Hard Drive actually score up to 30% faster than the Seagate
Barracuda V 120gb Serial ATA Hard Drive, essentially killing it in every
benchmark except for HD Tach 2.61's minimum read speed benchmark.
The question to you now is if you should
buy a Serial ATA drive if you have a motherboard that supports it, and now the
answer is definitely a YES! The newest line of Maxtor SATA drives is
definitely a worthy upgrade for any enthusiast or user looking for a new hard
drive, and finally with improved speeds the Maxtor DiamondMax Plus 9 series of
hard drives is definitely the line of drives to buy from.
With Western Digital soon entering the SATA
market along with a new generation of Seagate SATA drives in the next few
months, the SATA standard will only get stronger and it will be interesting to
see how long Maxtor is able to keep the Serial ATA performance crown to itself.
VR-Zone Rating : 85 VRMarks!
Maxtor DiamondMax Plus 9 160GB
was given an Editor's Choice SILVER Award!
Maxtor DiamondMax Plus 9 6Y160M0
If you are
looking for a high-capacity hard drive with the best performance around,
Maxtor’s Diamond Plus 9 160GB SATA drive is your final destination. With its
Serial ATA interface that offers 150 MB/sec transfer speeds and a large 8MB
buffer, this drive easily stands above the rest earning our coveted Editors
Choice Award with a perfect 10 score.
If you have
been following reviews which cover various SATA hard drives, then you know that
there are plenty of drives on the market which are not living up to the
performance which Serial ATA 150 is promising. Maxtor's 6Y160M0 on the other
hand proves that speeds of 150 MB/sec can be reached and thus gives us faith
that the SATA spec was created in the name of better performance.
Diamond Max Plus 9 drive we received from Maxtor was not in the retail packaging
which consumers would be familiar with from retailers, rather is packaged in
white box OEM fashion. This means that no documentation, cables or drivers where
included. So this review will be focusing strictly on the drives reliability and
If you are
buying this drive as a white box product make sure to download Maxtor’s Maxblast
program for formatting and partitioning the drive. Those buying the retail
version of this drive will get a copy included on a bootable CD. If you have an
operating system older than Windows XP with service pack 1 or Windows 2000 with
the latest service pack, then you will most likely have to partition this drive
into separate partitions. This is because Windows operating systems other than
what were mentioned will not support drives larger than 137GB (or smaller
depending on which operating system you have).
system consists of the following:
AMD AthlonXP 1700+ with stock heat sink/fan
Abit AT7MAX2 motherboard
512mb of PC2700 Crucial DDR Memory
Leadtek Geforce 4 MX video card
Plextor 504A DVD Writer
Enermax 350W whisper power supply
6Y160M0 drive proved to be incredibly fast in our tests. In our Winbench99
tests the 6Y160M0 showed very fast sustained transfer rates making this an
excellent drive for audio and video storage, where you need to maintain
consistant substantial transfer rates. Another good sign was that our HD Tach
2.61 tests rated this Maxtor drive better than any other drive we have tested
making this an excellent choice for everyday computing tasks, no doubt due to
the massive 8MB buffer. The 6Y160M0 tested 11.4ms access time in Winbench99
which is very impressive. CPU utilization is about 11.5ms which is average.
Hitting it hard
6Y160M0 promises to be reliable and is shock rated to a hefty 60G while
operating and an outstanding 300G while turned off. The 6Y160MO is also very
quiet although not as quiet as Seagate’s Serial ATA drives, but performance is
what matters to most and that is what the Maxtor Diamond Plus series is all
about. Overclockers will want to watch out for the amount of heat put off by the
6Y160M0 as it puts off more heat than most drives.
warranty includes replacement in 2 business days, 24-hour online and e-mail
support and phone support Monday through Friday.
Drive Specifications (these are the numbers
given to us by Maxtor and may vary):
Measured in kilobytes per second; longer
bars indicate better performance
Measured in megabytes per second; longer
bars indicate better performance
You can see how much of a performance
increase the Maxtor DiamondMax Plus 9 6Y160M) drive holds over the Maxtor
DiamondMax D540X 160Gb drive. Keep in mind that the D540X drive has a speed of
5400RPM compared to the 7200RPM speed of the 6Y160M0 Drive. The D540X also has a
2mb buffer and ATA 100 transfer speeds. Both the D540X and 6Y160M0 drives had
read burst speeds off the chart, over 80 megabytes per second.
currently offers the fastest sustained throughput of any 160GB drive we have
tested with good seek times. If you are looking for a fast and reliable storage
solution, the Maxtor 6Y160M0 offers the best solution currently on the market.
Maxtor's DiamondMax Plus 9 Serial ATA
Serial ATA Drives Mature
first look at a Serial ATA drive, quite frankly, was a little less than
inspiring. That is to say that, even though the SATA 150 standard offers a
higher bandwidth interface and those tidy, thin little cables, the performance
of the first drive to hit our bench, a
Seagate Barracuda V, was about on par with the average ATA100 or ATA133
drive on the market. However, as we all know, in this game of technological
leapfrog, it doesn't always pay to be too early to adopt the latest and greatest
architecture, for your own personal use. Many times, it pays to sit on the
sidelines, as OEMs and Manufacturers iron out the kinks in their designs and
tweak them for optimal performance and stability. What may not be obvious to
the average consumer, regarding
Serial ATA, is that drive manufacturers have to tune their drive circuitry
to efficiently and robustly take advantage of the higher bandwidth associated
with Serial ATA, as well as its radically different I/O structure. As we've
seen many times before, anytime a groundbreaking architecture is introduced to
the PC, you can be sure it's going to take some time for the product to reach
its full potential.
A couple of months have passed
since we spent quality time with Seagate's first SATA offering. Today, Maxtor
steps up to the plate with their Diamond Max Plus 9 entry into the SATA market.
Maxtor has had the luxury of the past three months, to let their first SATA
driven Desktop/Workstation drive mature and evolve. The DiamondMax lineage has
always ranked well in performance and reliability but perhaps not in the upper
echelon with Western Digital's top end 7200 RPM ATA100 product. On the other
hand, SATA technology brings in a new frontier.
Today, we've pitted this new
DiamonMax Plus 9 Serial ATA drive from Maxtor, up against a Western Digital
Caviar Special Edition drive and a Seagate Barracuda V SATA drive as well.
First let's take a look at the Diamond Max Plus 9 and show you what it's made of.
Specifications of the Maxtor
DiamondMax Plus 9
60GB, 80GB, 120GB, 160GB and 200GB
ATA/133 2MB buffer
ATA/133 8MB buffer
SATA/150 8MB buffer
Rotational Speed 7200 RPM
Buffer Size 2MB and 8MB cache
External Transfer Rate (MB/sec)
ATA/133 133 - SATA 150
Average Seek (ms) 9.4
Average Latency (ms) 4.2
Bytes per Sector/Block 512
Logical CHS 16,383/16/63
Start/Stop Cycles (min)
Component Design Line (min) 5 years
Data Errors (non-recoverable) <1 per 10E 15 bits read
Annualized Return Rate (ARR) <1%
Mode 5V 12V
Seek (mA) 858 662
Idle (mA) 668 334
Standby (mA) 90 37
Height (max mm) 26.1
Width (typical mm) 101.6
Length (max mm) 147
Weight (LB/g) 1.27/630
Idle (sound power: bel)
Seek (sound power: bel) 3.5
Operating (°C) 5 to 55
Non-operating (°C) -40 to 71
Shock 2ms (G) 60
Non-operating Mechanical Shock 2ms (G) 300
Generation 1 Serial ATA
Technology - 150MB/Sec
Once again, looking at the specs
of this new Maxtor SATA drive, reveals nothing too surprising or impressive, in
all honesty. On the other hand, this drive does boast some of the latest
compliments and enhancements to ATA drive technology, including an 8MB Buffer
Cache and of course its 7200 RPM spindle speed. What is perhaps more impressive
than at first glance, is Maxtor's "FDB" Motor technology that this drive is
built on. "Fluid Dynamic Bearing" is what the acronym stands for and it's safe
to say that it delivers some of the quietest 7200 RPM operation we've heard in a
drive to date. There is very little, if any spindle whine, as we've heard for
so long from many an IBM or WD drive and the read/write head chatter is also
much improved over the Seagate Barracuda V SATA drive, we reviewed back in
CLICK ANY IMAGE FOR AN ENLARGED
The DiamondMax Plus 9 SATA drive
is constructed well and fairly stout for a mainstream desktop unit. There are
no breather holes on the casing of these drives, so you need not be concerned
with accidentally covering one up during installation. The drive does get
fairly warm during operation but no more so than the average 7200 RPM unit. The
circuit board is exposed on the underside and you'll note this
Marvell chip provides a bridging functionality for the SATA interface. It
seems as though this drive isn't a "native" Serial ATA drive per se but rather a
parallel ATA drive, that has been converted to interface to SATA. We've got
mixed emotions about this. On one hand, the serial to parallel conversion, with
Marvell's Phy chip, is a well known high speed, high quality implementation.
Marvell easily has some of the best SERDES (Serializer/Deserializer) technology
in the business. This setup also allows Maxtor to configure base units and then
set them up for either standard ATA or Serial ATA, depending on demand.
On the other hand, what are we
missing by not utilizing a true serial implementation from the main controller
ASIC, on back to the actual link level? Frankly, we're not sure if there is a
tangible benefit with a "native" SATA implementation or even if one exists at
this point in time. In addition, as you'll see in the following pages, this
performance of this drive shows no limitation, that one could attribute to the
parallel to serial conversion, that is done on board.
We won't get into to the actual physical
installation of this drive. If you are familiar at all, with a basic 5 1/4"
drive installation, you'll have zero issues. However, obviously Serial ATA
Cables are significantly less bulky, as compared to their Parallel ATA
counterparts. If you're a cabling neat freak (and we have a few of those types
on the HH Team for sure...
BigWop), once you go SATA, you'll never go back. In addition, there are
no Master/Slave jumpers on a SATA drive to concern yourself with, since it is a
point to point connection and only one drive is connected on a given channel.
Any Sales or Marketing type worth
their salt, would understand the basic motto, "delight the customer". Let's
just say the Engineers and Marketing Managers at Maxtor had their collective
thinking-caps on, when they decided to incorporate a standard 4 pin Molex type
power connector on the backside of this new drive. We were perfectly delighted
to see this one simple addition. It's the little things that make a difference.
Cable Connections and
In the left hand shot above,
you'll note the two traditional types of standard Serial ATA cabling, that are
used to connect a SATA drive to a system. The 4 pin power converter cable and
the thin gray or red colored data cable. However, with the DiamondMax Plus 9
SATA drive, you don't need the SATA power cable converter, since you can simply
plug a standard 4 pin Molex type connector into the back of the drive. This
simplifies cabling a little more and since most Motherboard OEMs don't pack the
SATA Power Cables into a bundle, opting to only include the Data cable, you
would have to purchase one separately. Not so with the DiamondMax Plus 9. This
does again hint that perhaps this is a PATA drive, in SATA clothing but who
really cares? Regardless, nice work Maxtor... Thanks for thinking of the
consumer and the huge install base of SATA power cable FREE systems out there.
HotHardware Test Systems
(Silicon Image Sil3112A Controller)
Pentium 4 2.8GHz
DDR RAM PC3500
2 - Maxtor DiamondMax Plus 9
80Gig Serial ATA HD w/8MB Cache
2 - Seagate Barracuda V
120Gig Serial ATA HD w/8MB Cache
1 - IBM ATA100 (OS Drive only)
7200RPM 60G HD
1 - WD ATA100 Special Edition
ATA100 7200RPM 120GB HD
ATi RADEON 9700 Pro
Plextor 40X CDRW
Windows XP Professional
ATi Catalyst Drivers 3.2
Intel Chipset Drivers
Intel Applications Accelerator
For ATA100 testing
Silicon Image SATA Drivers
Version - 184.108.40.206.11 and 220.127.116.11
Test Setup and Methodology
In the following series of
tests, we used identical peripheral components, an Asus P4G8X Granite Bay
based motherboard, with a Silicon Image SATA RAID controller. Our system
was configured to run at a stock speed of 2.8GHz on the processor, with
aggressive memory timings and 2 256MB sticks of Kingston
HyperX DDR DRAM memory.
We then installed WinXP with
the respective SATA controller drivers, on a clean formatted 60 Gig ATA 100
drive. In the case of the SATA testing, we attached either one or two of
the Maxtor DiamondMax Plus 9 SATA drives or two of the Seagate Barracuda
drives on the SATA ports, in either single SATA150 or RAID 0 mode. With the
ATA100 testing, we simply attached another Western Digital Special Edition,
120 Gig drive on the secondary Intel ICH4 IDE channel.
All Test Drives in these
benchmarks were partitioned with NTFS at their fullest capacity, formatted
and left completely blank. Testing and benchmarking software was run off
the primary boot drive and directed to test either the blank SATA drives or
the blank ATA100 drive.
Sandra Hard Drive Benchmarks
Sandra's Hard Drive test is a
decent measure of "burstable" performance, with reads and writes on a given
drive. It's certainly not a "real world" benchmark in this regard but it does
give you a feel for file and application load time performance.
DiamondMax Plus 9
DiamondMax Plus 9
SATA 150 RAID 0
SATA 150 RAID 0
This is more of a quick sanity
check type of test for us here in the HotHardware Lab. Although it is hard to
directly correlate the metrics above to real-world performance, you definitely
can get a feel for how a given drive will measure up under heavy load and in
actual application performance. Simply put, whether we're looking at the single
SATA 150 configuration or an impressive SATA RAID 0 array, this new Maxtor
DiamondMax Plus 9 SATA drive pushed out the best score in this test, we have
seen to date, for a Desktop ATA drive. The 60K number in the DiamondMax Plus 9
RAID 0 setup, specifically puts the reference ATA100, 8MB Cache, RAID 0 Array
configuration, to shame in this test. Furthermore, this Maxtor drive also
handily puts down the Seagate Barracuda V, in either single or RAID 0
configuration. Is this an indication of things to come? Read on my friend.
Hard Drive Tach and Winbench Disk Winmarks
In our next test, we used HD Tach
mostly as a read performance benchmark. While write performance is obviously an
area of concern, especially within video and audio recording and editing
applications, read performance on a given drive is paramount to the over all "feel"
of how responsive your system is.
HD Tach Benchmarks
DiamonMax Plus 9
DiamondMax Plus 9
SATA 150 RAID 0
SATA 150 RAID 0
WD SE ATA100
Diamond Max Plus 9
SATA 150 R/W
HD Tach reports that the DiamondMax Plus
9 SATA drive is faster than both the Barracuda V and the Western Digital Special
Edition ATA100 drive, in a single drive configuration. The DiamondMax drive
just edges out our perennial favorite WD drive here and shows an even larger
margin of gain over the Barracuda. In the RAID 0 test, the DiamondMax Plus 9
absolutely leaves the Barracuda V SATA RAID 0 array in the dust, showing more
than a 40% lead on the competitive Seagate array. The other notable is the
DiamondMax Plus 9 is significantly less erratic, showing a much smoother
bandwidth graph across the entire array, during RAID 0 testing. Finally, we're
not all that confident in HD Tach's reporting of CPU utilization in these
tests. However, it does show the Maxtor DiamondMax Plus 9 is relatively
efficient in that regard, even with a software RAID 0 setup, like the one we
tested on the Silicon Image controller in our test system.
Winbench Business and Disk Access Winmarks
Next up is ZD's Winbench Disk
Winmark suite. Although this benchmark is a bit dated, with many legacy
Business and Professional applications, used in testing, it still has is an
excellent indicator, with respect to real-word desktop performance and overall
throughput. We used the most recent version 2.0 of the software, for our
The Winbench Disk Access Winmark
reports all drives here in this test, within one or two percent of each other,
with respect to average access times, measured in milliseconds. Since all
drives tested here have a 7200 RPM spindle speed and similar specified access
times, this is no real surprise. Then the tables turn quickly for the Business
Disk Winmark, in favor of the DiamondMax Plus 9 SATA drive. It nearly matches
the Seagate RAID 0 array performance, with only a single drive configuration!
Here the DiamondMax Plus 9 shows its real strength, with a 34% margin of
performance over any single drive in this I/O intensive test.
The picture is becoming much clearer
for the Maxtor DiamondMax Plus 9 SATA drive. Let's turn up the workload a bit
and then dig deeper into the stats.
High End Disk Winmark, Details And Final
This is the test that separates the men from the
boys, so to speak. The High End Disk Winmark incorporates much more strenuous
disk intensive tasks, like file transfers and data crunching in applications
such as Adobe Premier, Photoshop, SoundForge and AVS Express.
High End Disk Winmark
We could just let this chart
speak for itself really. There is no explanation needed. However, we can't
resist commenting on what yet again looks like a proverbial "smoke-show". For
the single drive configurations, the DiamondMax Plus 9 SATA drive is 26% faster
than the WD Special Edition drive and an unbelievable 82% faster than the
Barracuda V SATA drive, nearly doubling it's performance. In addition, if you
are a Movie, Audio or Image Editing type, a RAID 0 array with a pair of
DiamondMax Plus 9 SATA drives, seems pretty much like bandwidth nirvana. You do
the math. Plain and simple, these new Maxtor drive are racing-stripe fast.
New Silicon Image Drivers and Disk Winbench Results
The rest of the individual test
scores for each test in the Winbench suite, are detailed in the table below.
We've also taken the liberty of including a new set of numbers for the Maxtor
DiamondMax Plus 9, in a single and RAID 0 configuration, with some new SATA
Controller WinXP drivers, that were sent to us recently from
Silicon Image. These new scores are indicated with a bracketed "2" in the
title column. However, as you'll note, we used the previous revision drivers
for the comparison charts in this review, since we didn't retest all the drives
with the new drivers and wanted to keep a fair comparison.
Winbench Disk Winmark Details
Click image for full view
Note: "(2)" Test Run indicates new driver
The folks at Silicon Image have
been doing their homework for sure. As you'll note in this table of scores, the
overall High End Disk Winmark performance of a RAID 0 SATA array, has gone up
another 16% or so... sweetness.
A Note On Acoustics Of The DiamondMax Plus 9 SATA Drive:
Speaking of sweet, we're going to keep
this segment both short and sweet. We typically test a hard drive acoustic
profile in a fairly primitive but effective none-the-less environment. We
literally place the drive down on a bare wood portion of our test bench and then
let the drive's noise characteristics radiate through the wood. This method
actually enhances drive noise to a certain extent and gives a worst case
scenario to gauge things with. We didn't compare the drive to every disk in our
lab but the DiamondMax Plus 9 SATA drive, has quieter spindle and read head
acoustics, than either the Western Digital SE or Barracuda V drives we tested.
It should be fairly obvious to you
at this point, where this article and performance analysis of the new DiamondMax
Plus 9 SATA drive, is culminating. It doesn't take a rocket scientist to see
that this drive is easily one of the best performing Desktop or Workstation Hard
Drives on the market right now. Historically, Western Digital Special Edition
drives, with their 8MB buffer, have always been our drive of choice here,
amongst the HH Tech Editor team. However, with the advent of Serial ATA and
it's inevitable succession of PATA technology, it's safe to say we have a new
favorite. The Maxtor DiamondMax Plus 9 SATA delivers on every performance
metric, speed, speed, acoustics and... speed.
There are only a couple of small
caveats with this new SATA drive from Maxtor. Although clearly this is a high
end product, the warranty from Maxtor for this type of drive is lack-luster.
Maxtor only warranties the drive for 1 year, while many other high end desktop
products, like the WD SE drive, sport 3 year warranties. We would like to urge
Maxtor to reconsider upping the ante here. Clearly this is a well built product,
there is no reason not to stand behind it for a longer duration. The other
small issue is that you simply can't find this drive as of yet, in the retail
channel. Maxtor should be hitting volume with these drives in a month or so, we
would expect. As such, we don't have an MSRP for you on them either, as of yet.
However, one would expect that they should fall closely in line with the
ATA133 version of the DiamondMax Plus 9 , somewhere around the $95 - 125
mark for an 80G unit, like the one we tested.
For now, we were so impressed the
DiamondMax Plus 9 SATA drive, that we're giving it a 9 on the Heat Meter (3
years on the warranty would have scored it near a perfect 10) and our Editor's
Choice Award for excellence.
maxtor diamondmax plus 9 200GB
Maxtor DiamondMax Plus 9 200GB 7200 RPM Hard Drive
(Model Number: 6Y200P0)
"The DiamondMax Plus 9 hard disk drive is designed to exceed previous
standards for desktop performance. DimamondMax Plus 9 drivers are offered with
industry-standard capacity points up to 200GB.
By delivering a performance hard drive using a highly leveraged design with
state-of-the-art quality and reliability, Maxtor demonstrates technology
leadership with DiamondMax Plus 9 Drives."
Size is an all important factor when it comes down to
hard drives - 'bigger is better', especially with the advent of online media and
users downloading files from the Internet.
The Maxtor DiamondMax Plus 9 model that I am looking at today, boasts a massive
200GB of storage space...
It also features a rotational speed of 7200 RPM, has an 8MB cache buffer and
uses a ATA133 interface. The DiamondMax Plus 9 is also available with either a
2MB or 8MB buffer, ATA/133 or SATA interface and capacities of 60GB, 80GB,
120GB, 160GB and 200GB.
Along with the speed to back the hard drive up, this hard drive also is equipped
with something called 'Fluid Dynamic Bearing (FDB)' Motors.
The Fluid Dynamics Bearing Motor is a fairly new technology that Maxtor has
incorporated in their DiamondMax Plus 9 hard drives. This technology allows the
drive to operate with a very low sound output - which makes the hard drive very
much silent in operation, a great bonus for users who are concerned about sounds
levels in their computer setup.
- Fast ATA/Enhanced IDE Compatible
- Ultra ATA/133 Data Transfer Speed
- Serial ATA version enables transfer speeds up to 150 MB/sec
- 2MB and 8MB Cache Buffer
- Quiet Drive Technology
- 100 % FDB (fluid dynamic bearing) motors
- Maxtor Shock Protection System
- Maxtor Data Protection System
- Average seek time: ≤9.4
- Rotational speed: 7200 RPM
In the Package:
The hard drive arrives in a fairly large retail box. Inside the box is a
series of foam pads that protect the hard drive from shocks and damage before it
gets to you. The hard drive itself is wrapped in an anti-static bag. Along with
the hard drive, you also get a Multilingual Installation Guide (written in
English, Danish, Dutch, French, Finnish, German, Italian, Portuguese and Spanish),
an ATA interface cable, mounting screws, 5.25" mounting brackets and a MaxBlast
Plus II Installation CD-ROM and Diskette.
Driver/Utility CD-ROM and Installation Guide
MaxBlast software will guide you
through the entire installation process. Advanced users can simply skip this
program and install and partition the hard drive as they please. The
Installation Guide is very clear and takes you through numbered steps to install
the hard drive (for example 'Configure the hard drive jumpers') and has labelled
diagrams to aid you.
The inclusion of the 5.25" mounting brackets are quite useful and will be needed
if you are to install the hard drive into a 5.25" device bay. Including mounting
screws and a ATA interface cable also help to speed up the installation process,
as you will not be hunting around for screws or a cable.
The Hard Drive:
The DiamondMax looks
similar to any other hard drive, with all the hidden features 'lurking' inside
the sealed casing. The top of the casing has some useful information printed on
it, such as the serial number, jumper configurations and manufacturing date.
This particular hard drive used in the review, was manufactured on the 31st of
The Hard Drive - 'Standard' Looks
At the rear of the hard drive, just
like any other, is where all the connections are made. The only thing to note
here is that there may be an extra spare (horizontal) jumper present. This does
not affect the drives use and can be seen in the picture below.
Rear IDE, Jumper's & Power Connection
To test the performance of this hard drive, I will be using the popular
benchmarking packages PCMark 2002, SiSoftware Sandra and HD
These programs will stress the hard drive and simulate reading and writing of
data to it. The hard drive was connected to the motherboard using a rounded IDE
cable on a primary connection. The results can be seen below in graph form.
- PCMark 2002: Results
- SiSoftware Sandra: Results
With an average access time of
- HD Tach 2.61 (Demo): Results
With an average access time of
This hard drive performed well in the tests that I conducted. It is jam packed
with lots of storage space - together with speed, boasting a rotational speed of
7200 RPM and ATA133 IDE with a 8mb cache buffer.
SiSoftware Sandra reported the drives average access time to be 6ms and HD Tach
2.61 reported it to be 13.1 ms. Maxtor states that the drive has an average
access time of less than or equal to 9.3ms. The HD Tach result does seem a
little erroneous. However if we take the average of these two results, we get
9.6ms - which is more in line with what Maxtor says.
Reading and writing is reported almost the same in each test, the hard drive
only seems to slow down when being randomly read or written to.
I found that the hard drive did run a little hot to touch after a few hours of
usage, although this is common with most hard drives and especially the faster
RPM models. Concerned users can always invest in extra cooling or a dedicated
'hard drive cooler' product. Although I had no data issues during testing and
general use as of yet.
The hard drive arrives like a 'kit', with the inclusion of the 5.25" mounting
brackets, mounting screws and a ATA interface cable. This is a great bonus, as
you will not be hunting around for screws or a cable and can get straight in to
installing the hard drive into your computer. The Installation Guide is very
clear and easy to understand - less experienced users will find this Guide very
Thanks to the 'Fluid Dynamic Bearing (FDB)' Motors, this hard drive also
operates very silently. This hard drive is certainly one to consider if you are
in the market for a new hard drive with a lot of storage space...
modtown rating: 4.5 out of 5