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Maxtor's DiamondMax 80 crams 80GB of storage space onto four platters, and although the drive spins at 5,400rpm--slower than the 7,200rpm of many smaller drives--it offers comparable performance. That's because the Maxtor's high areal density (the data capacity per platter) means the drive heads don't have to move as far to access data. But what goes around comes around. In CNET Labs' tests, the DiamondMax 80 was 15 percent to 17 percent slower than the 60GB Western Digital Caviar WD600AB, which has a smaller capacity but an even higher areal density. Still, the DiamondMax is fast enough for running most consumer and business applications, as well as recording and playing back digital audio and video.
Installing this internal drive isn't for upgrade newbies, but Maxtor provides clear directions, cables, mounting screws, rails for a 5.25-inch drive bay, and an illustrated foldout. Installing the DiamondMax isn't hard, nor is using the utilities to format and configure the drive, but the guide and the directions clearly aren't written with novices in mind and could confuse inexperienced users. Maxtor's Web site has more complete, detailed information and support, including contact info, PDF files, FAQs, and a searchable knowledgebase. But if you need a how-to on drive installation, check out Help.com's hard drive upgrade feature.
When you drop 300 bucks on a drive, it pays to know what happens if it drops dead on you. Maxtor's standard warranty lasts three years and three months from the drive's last month of production. If the drive fails, you have a choice of advanced or standard replacement options. With the advanced option, you get a new drive within 2 business days (or so), but you must return the defective drive within 30 days, or Maxtor will bill your credit card. With the standard option, you send in the defective drive first, then the company sends a replacement.
You can contact Maxtor tech support by phone, fax, e-mail, or via the Web site. Free, toll-free phone support is available from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. MT Monday through Friday. The Web site has contact info for phone and fax support, and its self-help section includes a useful online troubleshooter, downloadable diagnostic utilities, and links to the Maxtor technical document library.
Eighty gigabytes is a lot of storage space, but history shows that as drive capacity increases, so does the ability to fill it. If you're keeping an eye on the bottom line or you can't afford the $300, you can opt for the 60GB Western Digital Caviar drive, which is 25 percent smaller--but $100 cheaper--than the Maxtor. If you do need the extra space, the DiamondMax 80 is a solid product backed by an impressive support policy.