We were big fans of Maxtor’s last hard drive, the DiamondMax 10. It was the first desktop drive to sport a bodacious 16MB buffer, one of the first drives to offer native command queuing, and it was an all-around excellent performer. We liked the drive so much, we decided to use the DiMax 10 in our zero-point test benches. Clearly, the DiamondMax 11 has big shoes to fill. If it weren’t for one fatal flaw, this new drive would easily sit atop the 7200rpm performance podium.
The DiamondMax 11 feature set is very similar to the previous iteration of the drive, with two exceptions: The new drive has a SATA 3G interface and its areal density has been increased from 100GB per platter to 125GB per platter (it uses four platters). This areal density is superior to the five 100GB-platter setup used by the Hitachi 7K500, and equal to Seagate’s 7200.9, which also uses four platters. The DiMax 11 drive sports NCQ, as well.
When we installed the drive, we ran into a major problem. Maxtor sent us two DiamondMax 11 drives for testing, and neither would work with our nForce4 test bench. Maxtor said it was a firmware issue, but rather than wait for a fix, we strapped the DiMax 11 to an Intel 955x mobo to check it out.
Once up and running, the DiamondMax 11’s performance was impressive. It’s the fastest 7200rpm drive in almost all of our benchmarks. The only exception is access times, which are more than 2ms slower than the advertised spec.
Just as we went to press, Maxtor sent us new firmware that resolved the nForce4 issues, but decreased performance. We saw the Application Index score drop from 30.3 to 26—a significant decrease. As it stands, we’re taking a wait-and-see approach to this drive. It’s fast as hell on the Intel platform, but it still has issues with nForce4.
Month Reviewed: February 2006
+ Seek Time: Blistering speed; huge capacity; quiet and cool.
- Hide Time: nForce4 issues and slow seek times.