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Appeared on: Thursday, January 26, 2006
Toshiba MK1032GAX

1. Introduction

Toshiba is a giant global manufacturer with a large product line and several divisions. One of its divisions, the Storage Device Division, recently released the MK1032GAX hard disc drive, a 2.5-inch HDD with 100GB capacity hard disk. According to Toshiba, the MK1032GAX offers the industry's highest areal density per platter, at 83.2 gigabits per square inch while the drive's 5400 RPM motor speed, improves system-level performance by as much as 12 percent when compared to 4200 RPM.

We received the MK1032GAX hard disk drive from Toshiba, shown below.


- 100GB capacity
- Rotational Speed of 5,400rpm
- Fluid Dynamic Bearing (FDB) motor drive
- 9.5mm High
- 12ms Average Seek Time
- ATA-6 Interface
- 100MB/sec Transfer Rate
- 16MB Buffer
- 300,000 MTTF Hours


TOSHIBA MK 1032GAX 2.5"  HDD 100GB
Data Storage Physical:
Per drive, formatted 100.030GB
Data Heads 4
Number of Disks 2
Logical Configuration:
Heads 16
Cylinders 16,383
User Sectors/Track at zone 0 63
Logical Blocks (LBA) 195,371,568
Data Transfer Rate:
Max transfer rate to host 100MB/sec
Seek Time:
Track-to-track 2ms
Average 12ms
Maximum 22ms
Nominal Power Requirements:
Logic +5V(+/-5%)
Start 4.5watts (max)
Seeking 2.4watts (typ)
Reading/Writing 2.0watts (typ)
Idle 0.85watts (typ)
Standby 0.18watts (typ)
Sleep 0.1watts (typ)
Rotational Speed 5,400rpm
Average Latency 5.55ms
Interface ATA-2/3/4/5/6
Buffer 16MB
Height 0.37" (9.5mm)
Width 2.75" (69.85mm)
Depth 3.94" (100mm)
Weight 3.56 oz (101g)
Ambient Temperature:
Operating 41o - 131oF (5o to 55oC)
Non-Operating -4o - 140oF (-20o to 60oC)
Shipping -40o - 158oF (-40o to 70oC)
Vibration and Shock:
Operating Vibration 9.8 m/s2 (1.0G), 5 - 500 Hz
Operating Shock 325g
Non-Operating Shock 850g
Preventive Maintenance None
MTTF (Power on hours) 5 years or 20,000 power ON hours
Product Life 5 years or 20,000 power ON hours

In order to investigate the difference between a 5400rpm HDD with 16MB buffer and a 4200rpm HDD with 8MB buffer, we compared the Toshiba MK1032GAX with the Fujitsu MHT2080AT. We chose to use the Fujitsu drive in this comparison due to the fact that most notebooks have a drive similar to the Fujitsu HDD.

2. HD-Tach

In order to test the Toshiba MK1032GAX, as well as the comparison HDD from Fujitsu, we used Teac's external USB2.0 case.

HD Tach tests the sequential read, random access and interface burst speeds of your attached storage device (hard drive, flash drive, removable drive, etc). All drive technologies such as SCSI, IDE/ATA, 1394, USB, SATA and RAID are supported. Test results from HD Tach can be used to confirm manufacturer specs, analyze systems for proper performance as well as allow you to compare performance with others.

This benchmark is intended to determine the maximum read or write speed of the device at various locations. Hard drives, for example, have faster read/write speeds at the inside edge (mapped to block 0) of the device, so it is useful to see the difference in speed. The maximum sustained speed (lowest speed on the device) is an important metric for real time sequential access applications. The maximum speed may be important to a power user that would like to partition the drive into a high speed partition and low speed partition.

Click to enlarge

The performance of the Toshiba hard disk was better than the Fujitsu, in both reading and writing, as reported by HD-Tach. Toshiba has an average reading speed of 28.2MB/s while the Fujitsu 23.1MB/s. In writing however, there is a huge difference between the two drives. The Fujitsu drive reported a rather low average writing transfer rate of 0.4MB/s while the Toshiba 32MB/s. In order to be 100% sure, we repeated the test with the Fujitsu three times, even on different motherboards.

3. Performance Test v5.0

Passmark PerformanceTest is an award winning PC hardware benchmark utility that allows everybody to quickly assess the performance of their computer and compare it to a number of standard 'baseline' computer systems.

Twenty seven standard benchmark tests are available in seven test suites plus there are five advanced testing windows for custom benchmarking. CPU Tests, 2D Graphics Tests, 3D Graphics Tests, Disk Tests, Memory Tests and CD/DVD Tests. In our case we selected the Disk Tests suite.

Passmark Disk Test

This suite contains a number of tests that exercise the mass storage units (hard disk or otherwise) connected to the computer. By default drive C: is used but this can be changed from the Preferences Dialog.
For each test a file is created in the root directory of the selected disk. The file size needs to be large in order to get an accurate measurement. In the case where a slow drive is used on a computer with a large amount of RAM this test can take some minutes to complete.

There are a few issues to aware of when interpreting the results of the disk test. These are covered in the precautions section.
- Disk Sequential Cached Read
A large test file is created on the disk under test. The size of this test file is proportional to the amount of RAM available, which stops the entire file from being cached in RAM. The file is read sequentially from start to end. The amount of data read in each individual read operation is always 16KB

- Disk Sequential Cached Write
A large file is written to the disk under test. The size of this test file is proportional to the amount of RAM available. This stops the entire file being cached in RAM. The file is written sequentially from start to end. The amount of data written in each individual operation is always 16KB

- Disk Random cached Seek RW
A large test file is created on the disk under test. The size of this test file is proportional to the amount of RAM available, this stops the entire file being cached in RAM. The file is read randomly; a seek is performed to move the file pointer to a random position in the file, a 16KB block is read or written then another seek is performed. The amount of data actually transferred is highly dependent on the disk seek time.

Tests Toshiba Fujitsu

It is clear from the table above, that the Fujitsu hard disk has higher transfer rates with sequential reads and writes, while the Toshiba was better at Random Seek R+W.

- Reading Test



4MB/sec is the difference between the Fujitsu and the Toshiba for the reading test.

- Writing Test



Approximately 1MB/sec faster writing with the Fujitsu hard disk.

4. SiSoftware Sandra 2005

SiSoftware Sandra is a 32 and 64-bit Windows system analyser that includes benchmarking, testing and listing modules. It tries to go beyond other utilities to show you more of what is really going on under the hood so you draw comparisons at both a high and low-level in a single product.

You can get information about the CPU, chipset, video adapter, ports, printers, sound card, memory, network, Windows internals, AGP, ODBC Connections, USB2, Firewire etc. You can save/print/fax/e-mail/post/upload or insert into ADO/ODBC databases reports in text, HTML, XML, SMS/DMI or RPT format.

This version supports multiple sources of information gathering including: remote computers, PDAs, Smart Phones, ADO/ODBC databases or saved system reports. All benchmarks are optimised for both SMP & SMT (Hyper-Threading), up to 32/64 CPUs depending on the platform.

File system Benchmark

· Read Test: Buffered, Random, Sequential
· Write Test: Buffered, Random, Sequential
· Seek Test

The "Drive Index" mark is a composite figure representing an overall performance rating based on the average of the read, write, and seek tests, and file and cache size. The Drive Index is intended to represent drive performance under typical use in a PC. A larger number means better performance. The weighting of the results is not equal and represents the distribution of different files sizes as used on these devices (obtained through field research).

Similar performance from both drives, with the Fujitsu being slightly better.

Removable Storage/Flash Benchmark

Once more, there is a small difference in performance between the two tested drives. The smaller capacity might be the reason for this.

5. PCMark05

PCMark05 is an application-based benchmarks and a premium tool for measuring overall PC performance. It uses portions of real applications instead of including very large applications or using specifically created code. This allows PCMark05 to be a smaller installation as well as to report very accurate results. As far as possible, PCMark05 uses public domain applications whose source code can be freely examined by any user.

PCMark05 includes 4 categorized suites for benchmarking your computer. These include CPU, Graphics, Memory and a Hard Disk Drive benchmark. In our case, we selected only the Hard Disk Drive benchmark.

In this test, it seems the Toshiba HDD overall, is better than the Fujitsu. The test results are given more analytically below:

HDD Test Suite Toshiba Fujitsu
XP Startup (MB/sec) 5.919 4.841
Application Loading (MB/sec) 4.933 3.905
General Usage (MB/sec) 4.027 3.211
Virus Scan (MB/sec) 16.601 26.549
File Write (MB/sec) 23.625 26.081

The Toshiba seems to be better during XP Startup, Application Loading and General Usage while the Fujitsu in the Virus Scan and File Write tests.

6. Conclusion

The Toshiba name has been a synonym for quality and reliability. The MK1032GAX HDD with its increased capacity of 100GB, makes it a great solution for notebooks or portable devices. Moreover, it is among the fastest 2.5" hard disk drives on the market, with a rotation speed of 5400rpm and 12ms average seek time. The 16MB buffer is promises great performance while the 300,000 Hours MTTF, guarantees that this hard disk is going to last for a long time.

Our primary aim was to see the difference in performance between the Toshiba and another recent 2.5" hard disk drive, one with an equally large capacity, the Fujitsu MHT2100AH with 80GB of storage, 8MB buffer and rotation speed of 4200rpm. According to our tests, the Toshiba HDD was faster in some benchmarks while in others, the Fujitsu was better. PCMark showed that the Toshiba HDD seems to be better during XP Startup, Application Loading and General Usage while the Fujitsu was better during Virus Scans and File Writes. All in all, the Toshiba MK1032GAX did not impress as much as we had expected considering its higher rotational speed and larger buffer.

At the time of this review, the price for the Toshiba MK1032GAX on the e-market was around US$175 ( newegg.com) while for the Fujitsu MHT2080AT US$101. The Toshiba has larger capacity and better specifications but this does not warrant the huge price difference. Fujitsu also offers HDDs at 100GB with 8MB buffer at 4200rpm (MHT2100AT) for US$145 and the MHT2100AH with 100GB capacity, 16MB buffer at 5400rpm for US$155. The final decision is yours...

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