Dimension 8300 SATA compared to Dimension 8400 SATA

Discussion in 'Dell' started by William R. Walsh, Jun 21, 2008.

  1. So I finally got ahold of a Dimension 8400 for some comparison testing
    with my 8300. (Thanks to Ben Myers!) I may be crazy, but I've had the
    sneaking suspicion that the 8400 is what I should have waited for,
    even though my 8300 got a lot better when I dumped the Prescott CPU
    for a Northwoods version.

    Right away I noticed a few very obvious differences..the LGA775 CPU
    socket, more SATA ports, Intel 925 chipset (as compared to the 8300's
    i875), gigabit ethernet and a PCIe graphics slot.

    When I got into system setup, I noticed something else that is very
    different from the Dim8300 series. The 8400 has several options--RAID
    autodetect/AHCI, RAID autodetect/ATA, RAID on, and Combination. Dell
    says the factory default is the AHCI mode.

    Windows XP setup on the 8400 loaded the "iastor" driver for disk
    storage while the 8300 used the "atapi" driver.

    On the 8300, none of these options exist in setup. In fact, as far as
    I can tell, the Dimension 8300 runs its SATA ports in ATA mode all the

    What I'd like to know is what kind of a difference this might make in
    terms of performance? It seems that having the ability to use AHCI
    mode enables some more advanced SATA features, such as NCQ that are
    simply not available when the system treats the SATA ports as ATA

    William R. Walsh, Jun 21, 2008
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  2. William R. Walsh

    Ben Myers Guest

    I would expect performance to be better than the 8300, but I cannot quantify.
    The Dimension 8400 has a more advanced chipset than some of the "newer" Dell
    systems with silver decor and 915 chipset... Ben Myers
    Ben Myers, Jun 21, 2008
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  3. William R. Walsh

    Jay B Guest

    ahci is faster!
    Jay B, Jun 22, 2008
  4. Hi!
    I decided to look into things a little deeper, so I did two DBAN runs
    (writing zeroes), one with the SATA controller operating in AHCI mode
    and another with it running in IDE mode.

    Yes, I know DBAN is probably not a good benchmark. However, it should
    write to the disk as fast as possible. And I'm not sure that it didn't
    see right through the settings, as both times it identified the disk
    as being "SCSI" (something that I've seen with other SATA controllers
    running in AHCI mode).

    The speeds differed very little between IDE and AHCI modes. AHCI was
    just a little bit faster.

    Now that the system is up and running with Windows XP SP3, I can see
    that there is quite a performance gap between my Dim8300 and the 8400.
    I'm not sure what the difference is, but the LGA775 Prescott 3.4GHz
    Pentium 4 is downright snappy where the Socket478 version in my
    Dim8300 never was. And even though the Dim8300 improved drastically
    with the switch to a 2.8GHz Northwoods P4, I still think it should be
    somewhat snappier than it is.

    The Dimension 8400 has also never increased its fan speed, even under
    constant 100% processor load. The Northwoods P4 improved the behavior
    of my Dim8300's fan, but it still seems that I just have to look at it
    to make the fan speed go up.

    Since my Dimension 8300 is nicely equipped, and set up to do what I
    want (it's primarily used for running VMware virtual machines), I'm
    going to keep it set up and running the way it is. I just wanted to
    see the difference between 8300 and 8400, and answer the long standing
    question as to what I should have purchased. Evidently I would have
    been happier if I'd waited, but now I have both. :)

    William R. Walsh, Jun 23, 2008
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