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-- by David Hafke
The exponential increase in desktop hard disk capacities is like a black hole in one respect: No one knows when or where it will end. A case in point is Maxtor's 5GB Enhanced IDE hard drive, the DiamondMax 85120A.
This drive is not only a mammoth as far as EIDE hard drives go, it's also something of a cheetah, since it scored a scorching 5.6MB per second uncached throughput on our Wintune 95 benchmarks. In fact, a 2.5GB Western Digital Caviar previously installed in the same system scored only 3.1MBps, which until now was regarded as a pretty respectable score for a big non-SCSI hard drive.
The DiamondMax's other specifications are equally impressive: It offers a 9.7-milli-second average seek time, a rotational speed of 5400rpm and 500,000 hours' mean time before failure.
Installation went off without a hitch. The drive fit snugly into one of the system's internal 3.5-inch bays, although we did have one complaint: There is no illustration of the jumper setting configuration on the outside of the drive.
Since we installed the drive as a slave on a Windows 95 machine with a FAT16 file system, we had to partition it into three separate logical drives. FAT16 will not recognize a single 5GB partition, of course; it's limited to 2.1GB or less. The newer FAT32 supports partitions up to 2 terabytes, but compatibility problems sometimes make it difficult-or impossible-to successfully use. (For more information on FAT32, see our review of partitioning software in this issue.)
The increased storage capabilities granted by the use of magnetoresistive (MR) heads allow the DiamondMax to fit 1280MB of data on each of its four disks, for a total of 5120MB. The UltraDSP drive electronics architecture uses a single chip for both the processor and the drive interface. Its use of these two technologies results in fewer parts overall.
The documentation includes step-by-step installation procedures and tech support information. There is a three-year warranty on parts. Costing $449 (a mere 11.4 cents per megabyte), the DiamondMax combines an affordable price tag, speed and vast storage capacity. As applications continue to demand more of your hard disk real estate, the need for larger hard drives becomes increasingly apparent. This makes the DiamondMax an excellent choice for just about anyone's desktop and earns it a spot as the first EIDE drive on our Recommended List.