The Test

When I approached comparing the hard drives, I realized early on that synthetic benchmarking just wouldn't work. So I devised a few real world copy/move tests to really give these hard drives a fair chance against each other. I simulated an installation of Windows 95 Service Release 2 (the copying part) by transferring a collection of files totaling 79.4MB, 81,305.6KB, or 8,325,6934.4 Bytes (a megabyte in this case is equal to 210 kilobytes or 1024KB). I tested each hard drive's ability to transfer files from one partition to another, simulating simultaneous read/writes, as well as the ability to transfer from one hard drive to another.

Test Configuration

Processor(s): Intel Pentium II - 300
BIOS Revision: Megatrends FX83-A
RAM: 2 - 32MB 50ns Micron EDO
Hard Drive(s): Quantum Atlas II XP34550
Quantum Fireball ST 3.2A
Western Digital Caviar AC21600H
Busmaster EIDE Drivers: Intel v3.01
OS: Windows 95 Service Release 2
Cooling Configuration: Enlight 7230 Mid-Tower ATX Case
2 - Secondary Brushless Case Fans
OEM Pentium II Heatsink

Quantum Fireball ST Performance w/ Ultra33

  Score (lower is better) using UltraTune
Test Business Desktop Publishing/CAD A/V Editing Games
Move Test File from Partition 1 to Partition 2: 28.26s 29.63s 39.08s 35.72s
Move Test File from Partition 2 to Partition 1: 30.15s 31.26s 31.11s 29.94s
Move Test File from Fireball ST to EIDE Test Drive: 31.09s 31.37s 29.37s 32.71s
Move Test File from EIDE Test Drive to Fireball ST: 24.98s 25.13s 21.00s 24.70s
Move Test File from Fireball ST to Atlas II: 13.24s 18.17s 16.14s 15.56s
Move Test File from Atlas II to Fireball ST: 23.38s 24.97s 18.07s 24.70s
Load Time for Microsoft Frontpage 97 Editor: 10.07s 9.93s 11.42s 11.15s
Load Time for Microsoft Word 97: 2.71s 3.02s 4.82s 3.05s
Best Scores in Green, Worst Scores in Red

The above chart shows you the effects of the different settings UltraTune gives you with the Ultra33 Controller card and your hard drive. The Business Application setting is by far the best and fastest setting, however for the best possible read/write performance you will want to use the A/V Editing setting. As you might be able to tell be both of these charts, the Promise Ultra33 controller sped up performance with the Quantum Fireball ST a small amount over that of the TX based motherboard with the exact same hard drive!

Quantum Fireball ST Performance w/o Ultra33

Test Score (lower is better)
Move Test File from Partition 1 to Partition 2: 30.08s
Move Test File from Partition 2 to Partition 1: 31.25s
Move Test File from Fireball ST to EIDE Test Drive: 34.98s
Move Test File from EIDE Test Drive to Fireball ST: 24.55s

The Ultra33 combined with the Quantum Fireball ST is an unbeatable team, and approaches SCSI performance closer than any other hard drive. It is definitely worth the extra $70, the perfect addition to any powerhouse system.



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