Seagate Momentus XT 750GB Review

By on January 18, 2012
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Near SSD performance; near HDD costs.

Good: Near SSD performance; Quick caching of data; Large capacity; Much cheaper than SSDs
Bad: No real-time writing on NAND Flash yet; Price increase over previous generation
Price: AED 950
* The price is the Suggested Retail Price at the time of review. Please call a retailer to confirm the latest price for this product.

The Seagate Momentus XT hybrid hard drives are one of those special drives that many people desire, but haven’t had much experience with. They’re like VelociRaptors, just the name sounds cool enough to want one. But it’s the promise of high performance for relatively low cost that attracts everyone. In the case of the Momentus XT, the low costs are relative to Solid State Drives, which are still prohibitively expensive for many.

So today I’ll be looking at the second generation Momentus XT hybrid drive that promises more capacity, more performance and better reliability than the first generation drives. Unfortunately this performance and capacity increase also comes at a cost of $100 (AED 370) extra.

As you can see, the NAND Flash that’s used to cache frequently used data has doubled to 8GB from the original Momentus XT. The obvious benefit here is that larger capacity for cache means that more of your programs will be running at maximum capacity (of near SSD speeds) most of the time.

Despite the size increase, though, it seems that the Momentus XT still won’t be able to achieve its maximum potential. The reason is that Seagate doesn’t allow any data to be written on the 8GB NAND while in use; only read. Essentially that means that read heavy applications, such as iTunes or any video game will see a lot of benefit as data is mostly read. For those who’ll be working on heavy editing applications, such as Photoshop or Sony Vegas, will still be bound by the write speeds of a 7200rpm drive, albeit at SATA III speeds.

I guess if both real-time read and write access was given to the NAND Flash, perhaps a bigger size would be needed. So these limitations seem more in line with keeping the costs down, rather than technical issues. That said, Seagate has mentioned that they will be releasing a firmware upgrade for these    2nd generation Momentus XT drives that will, in fact, allow data to be written to the 8GB NAND. So far we haven’t had anything, so this review looks at performance you’ll be getting from units straight of the packaging.

One of the key features of the Momentus XT is the ‘Adaptive Memory Technology’ that’s basically a self-learning algorithm that notice your most used programs and stores their data on the cache. So every time you run those programs again, they will be loaded as quickly as an SSD since the data is being read directly from the 8GB NAND Flash.

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From auditing to editing, I now test and analyze the latest gadgets and games instead of the latest financial statements. Both jobs are equally intense and rewarding. When I'm not burning up hardware in the name of science, you'll find me nuking in DOTA 2 or engineering in TF2.

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