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Maxtor DiamondMax Plus 9 200GB

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Maxtor has made the most of the Diamond MaxPlus 9 series name. You can buy the drives with either a Parallel ATA133 or Serial ATA interface, 2MB or 8MB cache and a choice of 60, 80, 120, 160 or 200GB capacity.

The drives have shipped with a variety of areal densities, so you could never be quite sure how many heads and platters a given drive would have. In fact the only features you could be sure of were a spindle speed of 7,200rpm and that the drive used Fluid Dynamic Bearings rather than ball bearings. In theory drives that use FDB are quieter in operation, but the difference wasn't apparent during our testing. You can also argue that FDB drives are more resilient to shock loads as the fluid layer damps the transmission of the shock as it travels from the case of the drive and the spindle, and then through the bearings to the platters. In fact Maxtor claims the same 2ms operating shock limit of 60G as Western Digital, which uses ball bearings. The non-operating shock limit of the Maxtor is higher at 300G than the WD at 250G, but even so the difference isn't that dramatic.

The biggest, most expensive Diamond MaxPlus 9 dive is this 200GB 6Y200M0 Serial ATA drive, with a typical online price of £188 inc VAT, which works out to 94p/GB. You pay a hefty £38 premium for the Serial ATA interface as you can find the 200GB ATA133 drive for £150 (75p/GB), but even the greatest fan of Serial ATA wouldn't claim that the new interface has any performance advantage, so you're paying extra for a slim cable, rather than a clunky old ribbon cable.

The Maxtor has the new 15-pin power connector, as well as a traditional four-pin Molex connector, in addition to the six-pin Serial ATA connection, plus a jumper that you should have no reason to touch.

In our testing the Maxtor was fast across the board. The read and write times in HD Tach were impressively fast and made for a neat graph. The average read speed of 50,892 demonstrates that the debate about ATA133 vs ATA100 was a red herring as ATA66 will suffice for even the fastest single hard drives.

Our real world test consisted of 4.32GB of data that we read from a target drive and then wrote back, and the Maxtor also did well here, although its times were nearly matched by the Seagate Barracuda 7200.7 drive. The times we recorded are approximately 80% as fast as the HD Tach test, but our test data is in hundreds of files across dozens of directories which makes life much harder for the drive.

This Maxtor drive is relatively bulky and heavy, no doubt thanks to the three platters and six heads, but it has plenty of performance, and we were generally very impressed by it. We were less impressed by the price, particularly when compared to the much cheaper ATA133 version.

Overall we feel that a £10 or £15 premium is about right for a Serial ATA drive so we have to mark the DiamondMax Plus 9 6Y200M0 down on value for money.

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