Radified Guide to SCSI - Boot from a SCSI Hard Drive

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Minor Premise

The single biggest, and probably only, disadvantage of SCSI is its cost. It's also a bit more complicated to set up, but this is not a main point of contention.

Depending on your financial condition, the cost issue may range anywhere from a non-issue to an insurmountable obstacle. Everyone is different. On a cost/GB ration basis, SCSI hard drives typically cost 3 times more than their IDE counterparts. This is why I recommend a small SCSI drive. It's because you don't need very much space to run an operating system and applications. And this is where you'll notice the most dramatic performance improvements over an IDE/ATA drive. 

The smallest 10Krpm SCSI drive you can buy today is 9GB. This is more than enough space to run both WinME and Win2K, all your apps, and prolly even a Linux distro. Since the prices of 18GB drives is only a little more than that of a 9GB drive, they currently offer the best value. Don't buy more than 18 gigs if you won't actually use that much space. Using a SCSI drive for mere file storage is a waste of money. You should be using (relatively) cheap ATA drives for that. With a 18GB drive, I'd make three 6-gig partitions.

As mentioned on a previous page, you can buy a 18GB, 10Krpm IBM Ultrastar 36LZX Discovery HDD, with 4MB cache & 4.9ms seek time, for ~US$169. Let's take a minute to compare prices. The 60GB IBM 60GXP Deskstar, a 7200rpm drive, with 2MB cache and 8.5ms seek, sells for ~US$139. Note that the cost of each drive is ball-park equal (within $30), but the IDE drive buys you ~3X more storage space. 

This is why you don't want to use a SCSI drive for mere file storage. It costs 3 times more to rent space in a SCSI apartment it does to rent the same size apartment in ATA land. The ATA drive is where you want to store files that are not part of the operating system or applications. For example, file storage would include (but not limited to): MP3s, downloads, drivers, scans, jpegs, clip-art, back-up files, Norton Ghost images, movies, AVI files, perhaps even your games .. all the files that don't put the SCSI interface to its maximum use.

I have my favorite games, like Quake III Arena (Instagibs!) on a SCSI drive. Do I get more FPS with Q3A on a SCSI? No. Does the levels load faster? Yeah. Does it put my precious SCSI real estate to max use? Prolly not. 

IDE & SCSI hard drives will co-exist peacefully in the same system. I currently have 3 ATA & 3 SCSI hard drives in my system. 

I prefer IBM drives, but am not dogmatic about it. Now that Maxtor bought Quantum, they are the largest manufacturer of hard drives in the world. Before the Maxtor buy-out, Seagate was the biggest. 

The Cheetah has been a perennial performance leader for years. Most agree that they make the finest SCSI drives, tho also the most expensive. Some have complained of a high-pitched whine from some Cheetahs. I've never used a Cheetah. First-generation 10K Cheetahs were notorious for running hot & loud. I've heard of more problems with Western Digital drives than any other manufacturer, but they do have attractive prices. 

Storagereview says the Atlas 10K III is the fastest 10Krpm drive. Any current generation SCSI drive that spins at 10Krpm (or greater) is going to offer dramatic performance improvements over any IDE/ATA drive. In a recent survey at he Storagereview, IBM was far & away the most trusted HDD manufacturer, with 40% of the vote. Seagate & Quantum tied for a distant second at 15% each. Maxtor & Western Digital was scraping the bottom with 10% each. From the posts I've read at the SR, I tend to agree with the survey. Seagate SCSI drives should prolly be rated higher tho.

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