hard drive history

1999: maturity

Seagate Medalist 13640

Photo: by kind permission of Seagate.

Seagate Medalist 13640 Family

Another classic entry-level Seagate drive; a bread and butter product to replace the old Medalist 4500 series and compete with the Quantum Bigfoot for the value end of the market, and the very last of the traditional Seagate entry-level drives before the switch to the less well-regarded U Series.

This end of the market was all too often forgotten; many reviewers did not seem to realise that most people bought ordinary, everyday drives like these, let alone that the choice of drive was just as important in a $1000 family system as in a $4000 server — indeed, in some ways more so, as the differences between the very fastest drives (say a Cheetah, an Ultrastar ZX and an Atlas 10K) are often small, where the differences between entry level drives could be enormous.

Seagate had always been good at entry-level drives — together with the SCSI segment at the other end of the market this was their specialty — but with these outdid themselves. The Medalist 13640s were were easily faster than any competing drive (compare to the Bigfoot TS below), and stood up well even when compared to more expensive mid-range drives like the Western Digital Caviar or Seagate's own Medalist 17240. By early 2000, these were no more than a solid entry-level performers, but when introduced they were quite outstanding.

Like most entry-level Seagate drives, they had a fairly long market life, and were blessed with the traditional Seagate virtues of reliability and value for money. Indeed, the eventual Medalist 13640 replacement, the unlovely U4 Series, was a disappointment.

Data rate172 Mbit/secSpin rate5400 RPM
Seek time9.5msBuffer512k
Platter capacity3.25GBInterfaceATA-33/66
ST-33210A3.25GB2 MR heads*
ST-36422A6.40GB4 MR heads****
ST-38622A8.62GB5 MR heads***
ST-310230A10.2GB6 MR heads**
ST-313640A13.6GB8 MR heads**