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A note on the testing
We'll be testing the Deskstar 7K250 against its Serial ATA competition, but be warned, this isn't as strict an apples-to-apples comparison as some product managers and benchmarking purists may prefer.

For starters, the 250GB 7K250 offers quite a bit more storage capacity than the disks we've assembled for comparison. That's not a huge deal, because the 7K250's platter capacity is comparable to drives we'll be looking at from Maxtor and Seagate.

However, the Raptors are another story altogether. In addition to comparing the 7K250 with 7,200-RPM Serial ATA drives from Maxtor and Seagate, I've also thrown in results from Western Digital's 10K-RPM Raptor drives. The Raptors were designed for enterprise and workstation environments, but the drives have become popular with enthusiasts, so they're fair game as far as I'm concerned. Be aware that the Raptors have a 2,800RPM spindle speed advantage and that they're only available in 36 and 74GB capacities.

Although we'll be looking at the 7K250's performance against drives with different capacities and spindle speeds, I've limited testing to Serial ATA drives. We're still very much in apples-to-apples territory, but I've mixed things up a little by comparing a Granny Smith with a couple of Spartans and two Golden Delicious.

Our testing methods
All tests were run three times, and their results were averaged, using the following test system.

 System
ProcessorIntel Pentium 4 2.26GHz
Front-side bus533MHz (4x133MHz)
MotherboardTyan Trinity GC-SL
ChipsetServerWorks Grand Champion SL
North bridgeServerWorks CMIC-SL
South bridgeServerWorks CSB5
Memory size512MB (1 DIMM)
Memory typeCAS 2.5 PC2100 ECC DDR SDRAM
GraphicsATI Rage XL
Storage Controllers

SIIG Serial ATA PCI

Storage Driver

Silicon Image 1.0.0.47

Storage

Hitachi Deskstar 7K250 250GB
Maxtor DiamondMax Plus 9 120GB
Seagate Barracuda 7200.7 120GB
Western Digital Raptor WD740GD 74GB
Western Digital Raptor WD360GD 37GB

Operating SystemWindows XP Professional SP1

The Serial ATA card was used in the motherboard's PCI-X slot and had the entire PCI-X bus to itself throughout testing.

A special thanks goes out to the Computer Repair Shop and KickAss Gear for kicking in the Western Digital Raptor WD360GD and WD740GD we used for testing

We used the following versions of our test applications:

The test systems' Windows desktop was set at 1024x768 in 32-bit color at a 75Hz screen refresh rate. Vertical refresh sync (vsync) was disabled for all tests.

All the tests and methods we employed are publicly available and reproducible. If you have questions about our methods, hit our forums to talk with us about them.