All three of the A-series 120GXPs showed excellent all-round benchmark scores,
IBM first created the mainstream hard disk in the form of the Winchester hard file back in 1973, and this considerable achievement hasn't gone to waste in the years since.
The company's Deskstar line has had a rather turbulent history over the last couple of years: the 75GXP series was reputed to have a higher-than-average failure rate, and a group of customers even brought a class-action lawsuit against the company.Thankfully the new 120GXP series seems to have avoided these problems.There was an unfounded online rumour suggesting that IBM recommended these drives should only be turned on for eight hours per day instead of running constantly in servers, but this has since been thoroughly debunked and refuted by IBM, as well as third parties. Anyone worried about the effect of Hitachi acquiring IBM's hard disk section on their warranty needn't fret the process won't be finalised until sometime after 2004.
We received four Deskstars for this Labs in 40GB, 60GB, 80GB and 120GB capacities. Be aware that there are in fact two types of Deskstar 120GXP drives the N-series and A-series.The A-series (model numbers ending in 'A07-0') is the better of the two, with an 8.5ms seek time and capacities from 40GB to 120GB.The N-series (model numbers ending N07-0) only comes in 20GB and 40GB capacities, has a slower seek time of 8.88ms, and also performs considerably slower than its A-series counterparts. For example, while the As averaged a read speed of 38.4MB/s, the 40GB N we received only managed 31.7MB/s a difference of over 20%. Make sure you're getting an A series before you fork out for a 40GB Deskstar, otherwise you may be in for a nasty surprise.
All three of the A-series 120GXPs showed excellent all-round benchmark scores, especially in read service times where they aced the tests at an average read time of just 12.9ms equal first in the round up. This generally translated into high SYSmark2002 scores as well, although the series as a whole was still outdone by the 8MB Western Digital Caviar SE drive.The 80GB model proved to be the most outstanding drive in the family, with the highest real-world benchmark scores for its capacity and a reasonable price of $3.14/GB.
The N-series model drive didn't fare nearly as well, coming in well below average, but not as badly as the Maxtor DiamondMax 540DX-4G and 540DX-4K drives and the Western Digital Protg.
In terms of comparative capacities, the Deskstars liked to squeeze out every last drop of storage space they can, coming in odd capacities like 82.3GB and 123.5GB.This means that after formatting they usually have a little extra space compared to competitors' similarly-sized drives (the WD1200JB offers 1 12GB after formatting, whereas the 123.5GB Deskstar has 115GB), and an extra gig or two always comes in handy.
The Deskstars proved to be very capable disks and come highly recommended just be sure to check that you're buying an A-series drive, and avoid the N-series models.
This Review appeared in the October, 2002 issue of PC & Tech Authority Magazine