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Posted: September 8, 2000
Written by: Dan "Tweak Monkey" Kennedy
Installing the Quantum Atlas 10K II was as easy as any IDE drive. I found a spot in my full ATX tower case, put a cooling fan up front (cooling is recommended with all SCSI hard drives as they generate a lot of heat) and screwed the drive into its rails. I plugged the Ultra160 cable that was supplied with the SCSI card into the drive and proceeded to install the SCSI card.
Physical installation of the Adaptec 29160 SCSI card was as easy as any other add-in card for a PC. After the easy physical installation (and the installation of Windows -- later) Windows detected the hardware, prompted for the CD, and installed it just fine. The SCSI card and drive were both working in no time. I immediately updated the drivers and firmware from Adaptec's site to ensure maximum compatibility and performance.
This SCSI card comes with everything you need.. except a drive. ;)
I made the mistake of not partionining the drive from within pure DOS mode which caused some problems with getting the drive to boot. I fixed this problem later and the drive worked fine. I installed a fresh copy of Windows 98 on the drive, installed some games, etc., then defragged the drive. I was amazed that it only took 10 minutes to defrag. After installing Windows and the typical games and programs, my IDE drives would take a good hour or two to defrag.
Previous to this review, I was running Windows and all my games off of a 5400 RPM Maxtor ATA33 hard drive. It was slow. Painfully slow. The first time I let Windows boot up using the Atlas 10K II it blew me away. The drive loaded everything at once in amazing time. Windows literally booted in under half the time it usually took my IDE drive. Not only that, but there wasn't left-over hard drive reading after it booted. It was perfectly smooth. I decided to try playing a game that would eat some hard drive, so I ran Quake 3 @ 1600x1200x32bpp with every setting on high. Granted I do have a GeForce 2 Ultra (64 MB), a Celeron 566@850, and (only) 128 CAS2 MB SDRAM, but usually on crowded levels in Quake 3, it was quite noticeable when the hard drive swapped. If the hard drive was swapping at all during my gameplay, I didn't even notice. The hard drive read LED (on the drive itself) barely even blinked when running even the most intense levels. The same went for Unreal Tournament -- it ran perfect. I was planning on doubling my RAM, but as long as I have this drive in, nothing needs it. The swap file is accessed so quickly that slow downs are basically non-existent.
Seeing as this is a review, I had better put some benchmarks on here instead of just talking about my experiences. Numbers back up the commentary, so without further ado, here is the test system:
Celeron 566@850 MHz (100 MHz FSB)
128 MB PC133 RAM (running at 100 MHz/true CAS2)
Abit BF6 motherboard
Fresh install of Windows 98
Adaptec 29160 SCSI card using the latest drivers as of 9/7/2000
Quantum Atlas 10K II 36.4 GB hard drive
Quantum Atlas 10K 36.4 GB hard drive (for comparisons)
SiSoft Sandra Standard (v2000 3.6.4)
HD Tach v126.96.36.199
Also used for testing:
-A large file transfer (683 MB "DivX" video file)
Continue on for benchmarks...