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We used the following testbed configuration to test hard disks:
The hard disks were firmly fixed on the metal chassis of the PC case and connected to UltraATA/100 or Serial ATA controller on the ICH5 bridge of the motherboard. The main hard disk was installed as master on the first channel of the chipset controller, and a hard disk to be tested was installed as master on the second channel of the same controller. All the hard disks tested in this review had no problems with overheating and deterioration of characteristics at least during the six days of intensive testing. No additional cooling (special coolers and fans) was provided for the hard disks. Before the tests, we warmed the hard disks for 20 minutes using a utility with active random access.
The tests were carried out under MS Windows XP Professional SP1. The hard disks were tested not partitioned (in Intel Iometer, H2Benchw and AIDA32 tests) as well as partitioned and formatted by regular operating system tools depending on a test type: one NTFS partition of maximum size for testing the average access time and plotting the read speed graph in WinBench 99 and two NTFS or FAT32 partitions of the same size for other tests (WinBench Disk WinMark 99, copying files with various patterns, ATTO Disk Benchmark test, multithreaded read/write Nbench 2.4 test and the hard disk speed test in Adobe Photoshop). Each NTFS partition occupied half of the entire disk capacity (that is the second partition started exactly from the second half of the disk). FAT32 partitions were 32768 MB, the first one starting at the outer edge of the media (on the "fastest" tracks), and the second – exactly from the middle of the media volume. NTFS and FAT32 cluster sizes were selected by default – 4 and 16 KB correspondingly.
We used AIDA32, H2benchw and WinBench 99 to determine physical characteristics of the disks (average access time, interface data rate, and linear read/write velocity of platters). To evaluate the overall performance we use multiple patterns in Intel Iometer, a good test C'T H2Benchw, hard disk operations in Adobe Photoshop, multi-threaded reading and writing files and the universally recognized WinBench 99 (though we try not to rely on the last package in our conclusions, because we have often noticed hard disk optimizations for this test package).