17.2 GB Ultra ATA/66 hard drive. Rs 9,200
Features: 5,400 rpm; 512 kB cache buffer.
Pros: Well priced for its capacity;
Source: ACI Computers India
Hard disk prices have been dropping faster than the apple that fell on Issac Newton’s head. About a year ago, the average price per GB of hard disk was close to Rs 1,000. However, over the past few months, prices have come down to about half that amount. The latest addition to this is the Seagate U8 17.2 GB hard drive, at a lucrative price of Rs 9,200. At around Rs 535 per GB, this makes it the cheapest drive around.
The drive features the Ultra ATA/66 interface, which allows burst transfer rates of up to 66 Mbps. It has the look and feel of any other Seagate drive, complete with thick metal covering and the rubber jacket to protect it from accidental shocks. This drive can handle non-operating shocks of up to 350 Gs. Its spindle speed is 5,400 rpm. We compared the drive against its elder brother, the Seagate U4, which we’d reviewed earlier (See PC Quest October 1999, page 126). The only difference between the two is the cache buffer–the U8 has 512 kB of cache compared to the 256 kB of the U4.
The U8 is positioned for the entry-level market, meant for running common productivity applications like word processing, spreadsheets, and desktop databases. So that’s what we tested the drive for. We used a PIII/450 with 128 MB RAM running Win 98, and the Business Winstone benchmark. This benchmark runs the most common productivity apps, such as Corel WordPerfect, Office 97 and Lotus SmartSuite to come out with an overall score. There wasn’t much difference in the U8’s performance compared to the U4. It scored 22.1, against 21.9 scored by the U4.
The underlying transfer rates of the two drives aren’t too different either. Both gave a seek time of 13.5 ms. The load they put on the CPU while doing I/O is also quite similar. While the U8 takes CPU utilization up to 4.07 percent, the U4 loads it by 4.01 percent. One area where the U8 scores much better over the U4 is in overall throughputs. While the U8 tagged an overall throughput of 23 Mbps, the U4 could manage only 16 Mbps. This could be due to the larger cache buffer in the U8. We used Winbench99 from Ziff Davis to test these parameters.
Thus, the U8 is a slight improvement over the U4, but the main attraction is its price. What’s more, the drive comes with a warranty of three years.