A few weeks back, I reviewed the Maxtor 5000DV, a 200GB external hard drive. But what about the internal 200GB drive? We've gotten that in the "SLCentral Labs" for review, as well as the 160GB 2MB cache drive.

In this review, I'll answer a question that is on many peoples minds when they are purchasing a new hard drive; does the buffer size really matter that much? While 8MB buffers are starting to become more and more standard, it's still common to see

So, read on to see if it's worth the extra money for a 8MB cache. While they are fairly standard now, many drives are still using the 2MB cache technology, which is greatly outdated. Plus, are the Maxtor 200GB and 160GB drives worth your money? Read on.


The Maxtor DiamondMax Plus 9 hard drive line comes in 60, 80, 120, 160, and 200GB sizes. All the drives, with exclusion of the 200GB, comes in either 2MB or 8MB cache. The DiamondMax Plus 9 drive line also comes in Serial ATA, in the same capacities, and all come with 8MB cache. In SLCentral's case, we received a 160GB 2MB cache drive and a 200GB 8MB cache drive.

7200 RPM

Data Protection System

2MB or 8MB cache

Fluid Dynamic Bearing Motors

ATA/133 or SATA interface

Less then 9.4ms average seek time

60, 80, 120, 160 or 200GB capacity

Shock Protection System


A hard drive these days, and at least for the past 5 years, have looked about the same. Both the 200GB and 160GB Maxtor DiamondMax Plus 9 models are designed exactly the same. On the back of the drive, you'll find the Master/Slave jumper configuration, power connector, and a IDE connector. The top of the drive has a Maxtor sticker with the model number, serial number, drive information, etc. There's nothing else that I should, or can really point out with the drive design. Below are some shots of the 160GB drive. I couldn't take any pictures of the 200GB drive, because after doing all of the drive benchmarks in a day (including formatting three times), I was too lazy to get the other drive out of the case. Both drives look exactly the same, however.






For most people, installation should be a snap. The process is just like any other hard drive, secure the drive in the bay, plug in power and the ATA cable, and you're ready to go. However, Windows has a problem with drives bigger then 130GB, and you may need to do some tweaking to get the drive working to its full capacity. Since I was using the drive in a brand new system, I was installing Windows for the first time on the computer. Windows was registering the drive as 128GB, but the BIO's was registering the drive as 200GB, so it couldn't be my ATA/133 controller. After talking to Maxtor, I learned that all it was is that I needed to install Windows XP Service Pack 1 for the drive to work at its full capacity. After doing this, the drive worked perfectly. Since I had PartitionMagic 7.0, I easily created another partition and then merged the two to make just one partition. However, for people without this useful software, you'll either need to have two partitions, or you'll have to format your drive, which can be a pain. However, I'm not sure how common this problem is. I'm fairly sure it doesn't happen too much, but it's worth mentioning.

Test Setup


Shuttle SN41G2


Shuttle FN41


Athlon XP 2400+


256MB Crucial DDR PC2700

Video Card

Integrated GeForce 4 MX Graphics

Hard Drives

Maxtor DiamondMax Plus 9 200GB 8MB

Maxtor DiamondMax Plus 9 160GB 2MB

Sound Card

Integrated Realtek 6 Channel Sound

Network Card

Integrated Realtek Ethernet

CD-ROM Drive

8x4x32x CD-RW Drive

Operating System

Windows XP Home Edition


The drives are both fairly quiet, considering each drive's massive size. I can barely hear anything while the drives are idle, and while I can hear a slight whirring noise during activity, it is almost non-noticeable, and it can't be any more noise then any other hard drive, and it's actually less then others that I've heard.


I tested both drives using three different benchmarks: HD Tach, PCMark 2002, and SiSoft Sandra 2003. I compared the two drives (of course), but I had no extra drives lying around, except for a old 40GB Seagate drive, but I didn't think it was even worth even testing that drive. Before testing, I formatted each drive (NTFS), and I installed Windows XP Home. I then benchmarked. I installed no programs on the drives before benchmarking, so the results may be lower with more programs installed.

HD Tach

First up is the HD Tach benchmark. I find this to be the most adequate representation of a hard drive, and it is my favorite hard drive benchmark. Results were strange. The 160GB drive performed slightly better then the 200GB drive in all of the tests excluding CPU Utilization. While this was probably caused because of slightly different settings while formatting (?), I thought I should point that out. Despite that, the results were very high, and compete with SATA performance. The first screenshot is 160GB, the second is 200GB.




SiSoft Sandra 2003

Next is SiSoft 2003's File System Benchmark. I was very surprised with the low score of the 160GB drive, and it compared to a 30GB drive. While it is most likely a personal computer issue, I thought it was worth mentioning. I tried re-benchmarking the drive over and over, but the results stayed approximately the same. The 200GB drive demonstrated excellent performance, however, and did better then the 120GB 8MB cache drive, but trailed the RAID setup with two 80GB 2MB cache drives. First screenshot is 160GB, second is 200GB.



Futuremark PCMark 2002

Here are the results from FutureMark's PCMark 2002. I liked the score of 1210 that the 200GB drive achieved, but there was a 357 point drop to the 160GB drive, which I expected, but I was still slightly shocked. This score is still high, but there is a wide margin between the two scores. This shows the benefit of the 8MB cache over the 2MB. When looking at the chart below, you can see the huge margin between the two drives. The first set of screenshots are for the 160GB drive, the second set is for the 200GB drive.



Maxtor DiamondMax Plus 9 200GB




Reasonably Priced

Installation (Not sure how common)

Large Capacity

160GB drive performed better in HD Tach

8MB Cache

Seek times slightly high



SLRating: 9/10



Maxtor DiamondMax Plus 9 160GB




Reasonably Priced

Installation (Not sure how common)

Large Capacity

Low Sandra Results (Could be my PC)

Performed better then 200GB in HD Tach

Seek times slightly high

Fast Enough


SLRating: 8.5/10 (Would like to give 8.25)


It's pretty obvious that I enjoyed working with both drives. They were quiet, inexpensive, and fast in many situations. However, I did experience problems with the 160GB drive while benchmarking. I found that one of the three tests conducted produced unusually low results (Sandra), but I believe this is a personal computer problem, so I couldn't really say that the drive wasn't good because of this, since other people achieve much higher results.

So, is it worth getting a 8MB cache drive, or should you go with the 2MB cache? Well, I believe it's worth the extra money for the 8MB. According to PriceWatch at the time of the review writing, the 160GB 8MB cache Maxtor drive costs just $12 more then the 2MB cache, making the price $185 with shipping. The 200GB drive can be found for about $225.

With the expansion of SATA drives, it's an even harder decision when purchasing a new hard drive. SATA offers better performance, but it is usually more expensive. Once again, for the casual user, SATA isn't necessary. But if you are a hardcore user, SATA might be good in your system. While there isn't a huge performance difference between SATA and ATA/133, there is some, and if you require top-of-the-line performance, SATA would be the way to go. But, if you are looking for a inexpensive, high capacity drive, that offers performance and value, the DiamondMax Plus 9 Series is the way to go.









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