Hitachi Deskstar 7K250 250GB Hard Disk Parallel ATA
Date: Sept 2003
Price: £230 inc VAT at time of writing
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Hitachi GST is a recently formed company founded earlier in 2003. For those of you not dont know IBM and Hitachi formed a strategic formation to form a larger storage systems player. Essentially IBM knowledge and product ranges like Deskstar & Travelstar are now branded under the Hitachi hat, and together the companys have a combined duration of 80 years of hard drive storage knowledge. Although a large amount of business is from the high-end server market for us the standard PC home users they other 1", 2.5" & 3.5" hard drives for use in various hardware.
This 7K250 range are avalaible in both PATA & SATA flavours and at capacitys of 40,80,160,250Gb, the SATA version allows up to 150Mb/s compared against todays ATA 100/133 standards.
Gone are the days of small hard drives of 10-20Gb nowadays the usual shipping with new systems is at least 80Gb, capacitys can go up to around 250Gb this is due to many factors namely the technology to allow more data on each platter of the hard disc itself.
Why do you need more space? Well the simple fact is that programs are becoming faster and larger and consume more and more space. A Windows XP installation for example will usually take up 1-1.5Gb then with your service packs and office suites along with email and some music your likely to be at around 3-4GB. If your a gamer and you've bought some of the newer games like GTA Vice City, Medal of Honour etc then you can also appreciate this as once installed they can accure around 2Gb of space.
With SATA technology starting to get more common and with SATA 2/3 due in the coming years the average user can benifit from reducing hard drive prices which use the common PATA / IDE standard. If you look at the SATA 250Gb version at dabs you are looking at as I write this paying £275, for the PATA version your looking at £230. A saving of £45 you arepaying for the newer standard and the subsequent increase of speed transfer, if your not intrested in using SATA, maybe you havent got SATA or cant justify buying a seperate card then you could save yourself a few quid.
Nothing other than standard stuff here as it is not SATA. You get the main connectors on the rear of the unit, the molex power connector and the bank of jumpers along with the IDE connection to connect it to your motherboard.
Well as already said it all looks fairly standard, hard drive vendors arent known for releasing vairous coloured casings or including any extras such as hard drive coolers to help circulate the air. So what you get is a 3.5" unit with the connectors on the rear, a sticker including all the model information on the top. And underneath access to some of the chips and PCB. I do prefer it when vendors have this covered mainly as if you swap your drives about a fair bit it makes it easier when handling.
As its the same as the majority of drives you just need a drive bay and access to IDE and power cable. The jumpers can be set to whatever you need or just use the default which is set usually to run depending on how you have set-up the cables.
Hard drive noise can be a factor when choosing a drive, although most are fairly quiet especially when they are encased in your system some can still be noisy.
This drive was noisy. I had heard of IBM drives being noisy but this was my first experience of it first hand, as soon as the power was on the spiining up of the drive was quite audable and in a way it did sounds like a small engine was spinning up. The initial spinup noise lasted around 20secs it then dulled down and was quite quiet.
The drive was fairly quiet and had a slight 'hum' to its operation, with the side of the case back on you could barely hear the drive. Drives used to be notorious for noise and some drives are well known that the noise is a downside to the faster speeds.
To Test this drive I used it with the following setup.
Athlon 1800 XP
Windows XP + SP1
512Mb RAM 2100 DDR
I ran the drive for a couple of days to 'bed-in' before running any benchmarks, this was done for various reasons but primarily to check that the drive remained stable for the system to run. As mentioned above the drive was particularly noisy upon spinning up, this continued throughout usual light testing.
Occasionally the drive made a knock or two, I'm not sure exactly what it was but it didnt give me great confidence in the drive, occasionally when pageing the system tit would take up to 5 secs for the drive to run the task or movement.
After day 3 & 4 the drives performance was worrying as when i clicked on a icon it would take 5-10secs for it to run the acknowledge whilst it had a brief sleep or something before the drive again made a knock or two and then ran the request as normal. This may of been just a coisendance of something on my system, but i dont know what as it was used with a clean copy of XP with SP1.
On day 5 onwards the drive seemed to of grown up, the 'lag' type of charecteristic experienced seemed to of stopped and the drive was responsive and fast. The occasional knock from the drive unit itself still occured but the general performance of the drive seemed to be running very well.
The above benchmarks show various tests, but you can see via the Sandra benchmark that the drive ran faster than a 2xRaid ATA100 setup.
After the intial 'slowness' the drive has performed very well, it certainly imporved my overall system performance and allowed for faster installing and ripping of data. The odd knock still ocured but it isnt constant and might happen once a hour or once a evening. The noise can be loud on boot up but once it is spinning the sound is reduced to a gentle hum.
Price wise, its more expensive than other makes who have a 250gb model at the time of writing the western digital and maxtor 250gb drives were both around £30-£40 cheaper than the hitachi/ibm drive. This drive is definatly fast and has plenty of capacity but is the extra £ really worth it... not really. It performs well and apart from the initial few seconds of spin up noise i would reccomend it. However i fear that the currentprice difference is likely to make people look elsewhere.
Few teething worries but after that it was a fast and durable drive which ran great.