There is no doubt that the Diamond Max10 is the fastest 7200rpm drive out to date. Even with NCQ disabled it is still quicker than any 7200rpm drive due to its 16MB
cache. All the other leading manufactures will follow suite soon enough, Seagate have recently brought out a 160GB 8mb cache drive with AHCI support and upgraded firmware to best its predecessor even without NCQ enabled.
Pure performance wise the Raptor still wins hands down with its faster spindle speed and faster access times.
If you don't have support for NCQ - or are willing to live with
the limited sizes the Raptor comes in - stick with the Raptor. If,
however, you do have support for NCQ, and need a hard disk larger
than 74 GB there's no better choice than the Maxtor DiamondMax 10.
It spins at a lower speed than the Raptor and makes less noise; it
also generates less heat and doesn't need active cooling in most
machines. What is a clincher is that, as the Maxtor costs not much
more than the Raptor, it's cost per GB makes it better value by
far - especially as it's performance is similar to the Raptor in
many tests, and better in some.
To get the full benefit of NCQ, two or more read/writes must be happening to hard disk. This is best achieved in a multitasking setup where two or more apps are competing for the drives usage. The performance potential
of the Maxtor when many applications are all being used is very high.
NCQ is a big step in the right direction and, if the other manufacturers start
bringing out NCQ enabled hard disks, AMD will no doubt have no choice but to add an equivalent
of AHCI to their boards.
What we would like to see next is a hard disk with 10k rpm, 16MB cache,
NCQ enabled and with a good amount of storage. No doubt
it's under test even as we speak.