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The Maxtor 30.7GB 7200 RPM ATA66 IDE Hard Drive


It's hard to fathom the recent blossoming of hard drive space. In 1998, the average drive purchased was arguably in the 10GB category with most users claiming that they would never use all that wonderful space. In August 1999, Maxtor officially announced their largest, fastest drives. The DiamondMax 40 line and shortly thereafter (November) their "plus" version of the very same lineup began shipping to OEM's. Not until January 2000 did the DiamondMax Plus 40 series actually become available at retailers and online VAR's. Was the wait worth it or are these drives just a rehash of the previous lineups?

Factory Specifications
The Unit
  • 7200 RPM spindle speed
  • 10.2GB of storage capacity per disk
  • <9.0 mS average seek
  • 2MB cache buffer
  • Fast data transfer rates (up to 66 MB/s)
  • 3-year warranty

Description & Specifications

This IDE hard drive is of the standard 3.5" inch drive bay variety and requires no extra cooling. Maxtor has four drives in its Plus 40 lineup. Entering at 10.2GB and expanding all the way to 40.9GB, the 30.7GB is the 3/4ths little brother of the 40.9GB monster. The overall specifications are so similar in all four drives that all performance tests will be excruciatingly close across the spectrum.

A quick glance at Maxtor's spec sheet reveals the power usage. Peaking at 33.1 watts for spin-up is cause for extreme caution. Placing multiple drives in a RAID array or on 3 IDE connectors will stress most power supplies to their limits upon pushing the power button. Make sure that if you use multiple high speed, power hungry drives you have sufficient power to spare. After your computer has completed the boot phase, this drive runs at a more reasonable 6.8 watts for read/write functions and tops out at 12.9 watts for the seek mode.

The ATA66 connector plug fits into an ATA33 drive and vice versa. What you will notice is that the ATA66 cable is twice as dense as the older standard. The 80 connections are from an extra 40 ground or signal return wires that assist in a more stable signal and therefore higher potential transfer rates. Using an ATA66 connector the wrong way can lead to disastrous results. First, notice the bright blue end. This end must be plugged into the ATA66 motherboard plug and not anywhere else. Remember floppy cables? The black end must be plugged into whatever you're calling the master HD. Many controllers also prefer not to have anything else but ATA66 specific devices plugged into them, so caveat emptor if you try to use your hot rod IDE CD-ROM drive as a slave. Compatibility was not tested in this case.

The Tests

Two types of tests were used. The first is using HDTach version 2.61 to view the STR (sustained transfer rate). This is the rate at which the drive could manipulate large files (i.e. several MB in size). The second test is a more practical one. After copying the entire contents of the Windows 98SE CD to the hard drive, I simply copied the contents to another folder and timed the procedure. This will be a very realistic average of what the HD will "feel" like in every day use, such as booting up and running many standardized business applications and web browsing. These numbers will be significantly lower than the best case scenario maximum transfer rates.

Many people have first generation ATA66 drives and for comparison purposes, I will display the results from Maxtor's earlier product, the 15.3GB 5100 series plus HD. This drive sports a 7200 RPM rotational speed, 512KB cache and of course the ATA66 compatibility. In addition, tests will be conducted using both the older ATA33 interface and the newer ATA66 interface.

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