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Quantum's Fireball Plus AS 40
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Date: Dec 15, 2001
Section:Storage
Author: HH Editor
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Quantum's Fireball Plus AS 40 - Page 1
 

Quantum's Fireball Plus AS 40
Mainstream ATA100 performance @ 7200 RPM

3/5/01 - By  Dave Altavilla

The first two Quantum drives we reviewed here at Hot Hardware, were very high end products with SCSI interfaces and targeted at the Server/Professional market.  Today we are going to look at one from Quantum's "Desktop" offering.  This drive is still targeted at the high end of the segment but with an ATA100 interface, it will most likely find its way to a system the likes of which are configured by many of you loyal Hot Hardware readers.

As we all know, both spindle speeds and ATA interfaces have be driving bandwidth almost as rigorously as the semiconductor technology that is utilized to build them.  These days 7200 RPM drives are commonplace and the ATA100 interface, with its theoretical 100Mb of throughput, is the standard being implemented in every new major motherboard chipset.  IBM was the forerunner in the ATA100 race and their line of Deskstar 75GXP, 7200 RPM drives, have done very well in the marketplace.  The Quantum Fireball Plus AS series of drives that we will evaluate for you here, go head to head with this product family from "Big Blue".  With nearly identical specifications, let's see how they match up and what the Fireball Plus brethren brings to the table.

Specifications / Features Of The Quantum Fireball Plus AS
7200 RPM and quiet


  • Storage Capacity:      10.2 GB to 60.0 GB

  • Average Seek Time:   8.5 ms

  • Rotational Speed:       7,200 RPM

  • Interface Options:      Ultra ATA/100

  • Shock Protection System II

  • QDT - Quite Drive Technology

  • Data Protection System (DPS)

Quantum Fireball Plus AS Family Line-Up

Quantum Fireball Plus AS

10.2G

20.5G

30.0G

40.0G

60.0G

Form Factor
3.5 inch
(low profile)
3.5 inch
(low profile)
3.5 inch
(low profile)
3.5 inch
(low profile)
3.5 inch
(low profile)
Interface
Ultra ATA/100
Ultra ATA/100
Ultra ATA/100
Ultra ATA/100
Ultra ATA/100
Formatted Capacity (MB1)
10,273
20,547
30,020
40,027
60,040

Disk Drive Configuration

Recording Surfaces
1
2
3
4
6
ATA Logical*

Cylinders
16,383
16,383
16,383
16,383
16,383
Heads
15
16
16
16
16
Sectors
63
63
63
63
63

Performance Specifications

Typical Seek Times (ms)
Average
8.5
Track-to-Track
0.8
Full Stroke
17
Average Rotational Latency (ms)
4.17
Rotational Speed (RPM)
7,200
Data Transfer Rates (Buffer-to-Host) (Mb/sec)
Ultra ATA/100
100
Ultra ATA/66
66.6
Ultra ATA/33
33.3
PIO Mode 4
16.6
PIO Mode 2
16.6
Buffer Size (MB)
2
Typical Power on to Drive Ready (sec) 15

Click images for full view
 


The specifications in the above tables are fairly impressive with snappy average seek times of 8.5ms and a nice large data buffer of 2Mb on board.  As we noted earlier, this drive's criticals are nearly the same as the IBM 75GXP line.  The only major difference is that IBM has slightly higher areal density at 30 Gig and higher.  The 75GXP utilizes 15G platters and the Fireball Plus AS uses 10G platters all the way up through its 60G drive. 

One final note and simple observation, is the fact that the Fireball Plus AS is a sturdily built drive with one small draw back.  Bring your specs with you when installing this drive or be prepared to break out the manual.  The jumper legend that is on this drive, is not very descriptive and hard to read.  A minor drawback but worth mentioning, for those of you that typically don't like to follow directions. 

We'll draw upon a few test scores later, to show you how the Fireball Plus AS fairs against its very competitive counterpart from IBM.  For now, let's set things up and talk about some of the aspects that you can't read in a benchmark.

 

Setup, Installation and Performance

 

 
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Quantum's Fireball Plus AS 40 - Page 2
 

Quantum's Fireball Plus AS 40
Mainstream ATA100 performance @ 7200 RPM

3/5/01 - By  Dave Altavilla

We won't bore you with the installation procedures of this drive.  We'll assume that if you are reading this article that most likely you have the technology and know-how to plug in the connectors, partition and format a standard EIDE Drive.  The Quantum Fireball Plus AS is no different in this respect.  Let's move on to the last few details of this drive before we get to the benchmarks.

Setup and General Performance Characteristics
QDT, Size and Heat...

Once partitioned, we proceeded to format the 40 Gig Fireball Plus AS we evaluated, and double check the size after setup.

As you can see, the Fireball Plus AS does deliver the full 40G of data area plus a few extra bytes. 

A word on QDT (Quiet Drive Technology):

The Fireball Plus AS is one of the quietest drives we have ever tested here at the H.H. labs.  Quantum's QDT (those marketing guys really love acronyms) or Quiet Drive Technology, definitely performs up to its claims.  This drive is significantly quieter than the IBM Deskstar 75GXP drives that we have here in the lab.  If you are building a system for a corporate environment or simply want peace and quiet, you can't do better than the Fireball Plus AS, at least acoustically speaking.

Thermals:

Finally, the drive also performs fairly well with respect to heat output or the lack thereof.  The Fireball Plus AS under normal operation, in our P4 system which is fairly toasty at best, became just barely warm to the touch.  We felt comfortable letting it run in standard ambient air temp inside the case without the need for addition air flow or fans around the bay in which it was housed.

Our Test System
Pentium 4 setup with an ATA100 interface

- Asus P4T Motherboard with Pentium 4 Processor @ 1.5GHz.

- Intel D850GB Motherboard with Pentium 4 Processor @ 1.5GHz.

- 256MB of Samsung PC800 RAMBUS DRDRAM,

- IBM DTLA307045 45Gig ATA100 7200 RPM Hard Drive

- Quantum Fireball Plus AS 40 - 40Gig ATA100 7200 RPM Hard Drive

- nVidia GeForce 2 Ultra 64MB AGP Graphics Card,

- Intel 100tx PCI NIC, 56K PCI Modem

- Sound Blaster Live Sound Card,

- Hitachi DVD ROM Drive,

- WindowsME 

- Direct X 8.0 and nVidia reference drivers version 7.17

- Intel chipset drivers version 2.60a
 

Benchmarks - SiSoft Sandra
A quick take...

 
In our first battery of tests, we fired up a nice easy round of SiSoft Sandra Drive Benchmarks and compared it to our in house IBM Deskstar 75GXP scores, on the same system.

Sandra Drive Test
Fireball Plus AS

Sandra Drive Test
IBM Deskstar 75GXP


As you'll quickly notice here, the Fireball Plus AS is literally in a dead heat with the IBM drive.  The difference in the performance scale is well within the margin of error for this test.  So far, the Quantum Fireball Plus AS is holding its own against one of the most popular drives on the market.

Let's dig in a little deeper with more rigorous testing.
 

HD Tach, CC Winstone, Disk Winmarks and the rating

 

 
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Quantum's Fireball Plus AS 40 - Page 3
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