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Written by Olin Coles   
Tuesday, 29 November 2011
Table of Contents: Page Index
Seagate Momentus XT Hybrid ST750LX003
Closer Look: Seagate Momentus XT
Features and Specifications
Drive Testing Methodology
AS-SSD Benchmark
ATTO Disk Benchmark
PCMark 7 System Storage Test
Windows 7 Boot-Up Times
Compressed File Transfers
Seagate Momentus XT Conclusion

Drive Testing Methodology

Solid State Drives have traveled a long winding course to finally get where they are today. Up to this point in technology, there have been several key differences separating Solid State Drives from magnetic rotational Hard Disk Drives. While the DRAM-based buffer size on desktop HDDs has recently reached 64 MB and is ever-increasing, there is still a hefty delay in the initial response time. This is one key area in which flash-based Solid State Drives continually dominates because they lack moving parts to "get up to speed".

However the benefits inherent to SSDs have traditionally fallen off once the throughput begins, even though data reads or writes are executed at a high constant rate whereas the HDD tapers off in performance. This makes the average transaction speed of a SSD comparable to the data burst rate mentioned in HDD tests, albeit usually lower than the HDD's speed.

Comparing a Solid State Disk to a standard Hard Disk Drive is always relative; even if you're comparing the fastest rotational spindle speeds. One is going to be many times faster in response (SSDs), while the other is usually going to have higher throughput bandwidth (HDDs). Additionally, there are certain factors which can affect the results of a test which we do our best to avoid.

Test System

  • Motherboard: ASUS P8P67 EVO (Intel P67 Sandy Bridge Platform, B3 Stepping)
  • Processor: Intel Core i7-2600K 3.4 GHz Quad-Core CPU
  • System Memory: 16GB Kingston DDR3 1600MHz CL6-6-6-18
    • 4GB RAM-Disk partition from system memory
  • SATA 6Gb/s Storage HBA: Integrated Intel P67 Controller
    • AHCI mode - Intel Rapid Storage Technology Driver
  • SATA 3Gb/s Storage HBA: Integrated Intel P67 Controller
    • AHCI mode - Intel Rapid Storage Technology Driver
  • Operating System: Microsoft Windows 7 Ultimate Edition 64-Bit with Service Pack 1
    • No page file allocated to virtual memory

Storage Hardware Tested

The following storage hardware has been used in our benchmark performance testing, and may be included in portions of this article:

Benchmark Software

  • AS SSD Benchmark 1.6.4067.34354: Multi-purpose speed and operational performance test
  • ATTO Disk Benchmark 2.46: Spot-tests static file size chunks for basic I/O bandwidth
  • Futuremark PCMark 7: Primary Storage Suite tests real-world drive performance

Test Results Disclaimer

This article utilizes benchmark software tools to produce operational IOPS performance and bandwidth speed results. Each test was conducted in a specific fashion, and repeated for all products. These test results are not comparable to any other benchmark application, neither on this website or another, regardless of similar IOPS or MB/s terminology in the scores. The test results in this project are only intended to be compared to the other test results conducted in identical fashion for this article.



# dependablerealneil 2011-11-29 09:17
I have one of these in the 500GB size. I've had it for a long time and it has proven to be reliable and it's fast. This new one with double the Cache size of mine is probably a nice performer, and if the price had not blown so far out of proportion because of the flooding, would be a must have.
Your observation that at least a 32GB size Cache or larger 64GB would improve it is spot on. I'd love to own a few of them with a large Cache.
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# Hmmm...I'm not convinced.Mergatroid 2011-11-29 17:03
I would say this was better than a hard drive by itself. I've been using an SSD as my boot drive for about a year now and I love it. I am using a regular hard drive for my applications. I could see a hybrid being pretty good for a replacement application drive if the capacity was larger, even though reading files that are not used so much would be no faster than my current hard drive. As for a storage drive, I don't think these would be suitable at all since storage is just for storing and not for reading the same files over and over reducing the number of times you would read something that was actually in the cache.
I'll stick with my SSD for a system drive which is always fast, not just under some conditions. Adding more RAM would increase the price of a drive like this to the point where one might as well purchase an SSD. The only real advantage I see to a hybrid drive is that, as it gets closer to being filled up, you should still get the same transfer rates unlike some SSDs. Also, you don't have to purposefully leave some empty space for trash collection and wear leveling. I try and keep my SSD under 60% capacity to try and increase its longevity, something you shouldn't have to worry about with a hybrid. So I could completely understand anyone installing one of these in a laptop computer. It would give you the fast system you would get with an SSD (most likely) while having a larger less expensive overall capacity as compared to an SSD.
Definitely an interesting idea. However, now you're convinced me to go out and purchase a second SSD for my desktop system drive and set it up in a RAID 0.
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# RE: Hmmm...I'm not convinced.Olin Coles 2011-11-30 08:56
I honestly don't think SSD owners will ever feel the difference with two of them in RAID-0, but it can't hurt. I wrote a RAID-0 SSD article not that long ago:
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# Almost double transfer rateMergatroid 2011-12-01 18:54
Using an artificial benchmark on the RAID 0 I just set up with two 60GB SATA II SSDs (Corsair and Patriot). I was getting 246 MB/s on a fresh install of the Patriot Inferno SSD, and now with a fresh install on the RAID 0 I'm getting 461MB/s using HD tune. My boot time has gone from just over 20 seconds to just over 10 seconds after post. I'll learn more as I use it more but so far I am experiencing a significant performance increase.

You can go onto other forums around the 'net and talk to people using SSD RAIDs. So far so good for me.
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# falls shortddll 2011-11-30 09:14
For a 3rd generation effort, this is pretty disappointing. I expected it to be closer to SSD performance levels, like other SSD hybrid/cache solutions on the market. Once again, this just looks like a souped up HDD at a $200 premium! Not holding my breath, but let's hope Gen4 can hit the mark.
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# RE: falls shortOlin Coles 2011-11-30 09:17
I'm not sure which 'other' hybrid solutions you're referring to, since only one can reach SSD levels and it's an expensive PCI-E device.
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# RE: falls shortddll 2011-11-30 10:44
I think the best thing going for Momentus XT is that its simplicity. It's really just a Hard Drive with built-in DRAM and NAND caches. I don't see how they can charge so much for so little added performance, no matter how much the memory components cost.

If they doubled the cache again, would it would perform better? (I suspect it's really a matter of software and architecture)
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# RE: Seagate Momentus XT Hybrid ST750LX003dlb 2011-11-30 17:42
Honestly, I haven't read the entire review yet, but I had the 500gb hybrid installed in a laptop a few months back, and I can truly say that the laptop booted slower, and overall performance was slower than laptops with std non-SSD's. I was stunned at how slow the hybrid drive was! This was with 4gb DDR2, Vista 64bit, and a dual core Turion (which isn't a great CPU, I know), but it was a slower laptop than a single core Celeron with 2gb DDR and 32bit Vista with an 80gb SATA drive.... since then, I've stayed away from the hybrids. However, maybe reading this review in its entirety will change my thoughts on hybrid drives.
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# RE: RE: Seagate Momentus XT Hybrid ST750LX003Olin Coles 2011-11-30 17:46
That's odd. Even without the cached data, the drive still operates like a regular 7200RPM hard drive. It should always be faster than any other hard drive, but not as fast as SSDs. Also, keep in mind the algorithm takes 4-5 times before it caches the data to SSD.
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# Senior Software EngineerJMSigler2 2012-08-31 20:09
I think your investigation and generalization is off the mark. I own the Gateway P-173 XL FX and the Gateway P-7805u FX laptops. Both computers have dual-bay SATA II ports, and each computer has BIOS and hardware supporting RAID. These FX laptops were high-end machines, a line I believe is no longer offered since the buy out of Gateway by Acer. I have purchased and installed the Seagate Momentus XT 500GB drives with 4GB of SSD on each. I set my systems to RAID-0. The benchmark test I used for comparison: Gateway P-7805u with Seagate Momentus XT 500GB drives in RAID-0 versus stardard 7200rpm drives with no SSD also in RAID-0. The application tested was the loading of Visual Studio Professional 2005 or 2008. My results, having a 2.2Ghz processor found that first launch of Visual Studio after a cold boot took 52 seconds. With the Seagate Momentus XT 500GB drives my first launch time after a cold boot took 11 to 12 seconds. I then shut down these applications and restarted the applications. My Gateway P-7805u with 8GB of DRAM had restart times with Visual Studio of about 10 to 12 seconds with the conventional drives and 2 to 3 seconds with the Seagate Momentus XT 500GB drives. I use this application all the time, so this program became well cached by the SSD or my DRAM. I have also tried some additional tests in using a Secure Digital Card (Type=SDHC) with ReadyBoost; the big argument there is that with RAM prices as they are, the benefits of Class 10 SD Cards ( or USB Thumb Drives ) cards diminish with greater RAM capacities, especially after a program has been loaded once into RAM. The biggest benefit, of course, is load times from the initial launch of an OS or application. And, one could see benefits where games exceed the size of RAM space available on the computer. Paging code to memory from SSD, flash or solid state memory should outweigh that of a conventional hard disk. With prices dropping to where SSD 500GB drives are about 400 dollars and the Seagate Momentus XT 750GB 7200rpm Hybrid Hard Drives (HHD) are now about 140 dollars ( and one could consider conventional 10000rpm drives ), the analysis and comparison of these options is getting to be more about storage space on one side versus reliability and overall performance on the side than it is squarely about price.
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# Software RAID-0, 2 x Hybrids?Greg Zeng 2011-12-02 21:53
"# Almost double transfer rate ? Mergatroid 2011-12-01 18:54
Using an artificial benchmark on the RAID 0 I just set up with two 60GB SATA II SSDs (Corsair and Patriot). I was getting 246 MB/s on a fresh install of the Patriot Inferno SSD, and now with a fresh install on the RAID 0 I'm getting 461MB/s using HD tune. My boot time has gone from just over 20 seconds to just over 10 seconds after post. I'll learn more as I use it more but so far I am experiencing a significant performance increase."

Back on topic - RAID-0 for two of these 750 GB hybrid drives? On my top-of-the-line Hp Pailion notebook, it has 2 conventional drives, but no hardware RAID controller. As well as W&-64bit, I run several Ubuntu booting choices. So in Linux or Apple IOS, i could run software RAID-0. Curious if it has ever been attempted before ...
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# RE: Software RAID-0, 2 x Hybrids?Olin Coles 2011-12-02 22:06
I would not recommend software RAID of any sort, but most especially RAID-0. The overhead is tremendous, and the cost on performance often outweighs any benefits.
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# Haven't tried software raidMergatroid 2011-12-03 17:55
The new ASUS board I'm using has hardware raid built in. It was a real pleasure to set up and has given me a fair performance boost. However, I haven't tried a software raid myself and cannot comment on how the overhead may effect performance. Both RAID 0 I have had experience with myself have been hardware. One final note. If you have SATA III SSD I think the speed of the SSD would be so high that it may not be worth the bother of using a RAID 0. In fact, with two SATA III SSDs I would be tempted to set up a (hardware) RAID 1 considering they should be fast enough for any performance hits to have minimum effect. It's hard to say how a RAID 0 would affect these hybrid drives. You would think it would give you a performance improvement for data not contained in the cache.
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# RE: Seagate Momentus XT Hybrid ST750LX003Ryan 2012-02-01 16:30
Would I see much improvement with one of these in my 2011 mac mini if I already have 8gb of ram installed?
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# RE: RE: Seagate Momentus XT Hybrid ST750LX003Olin Coles 2012-02-01 19:01
You would see faster start-up, and your programs would open faster.
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# Seagate Momentus XT Hybrid ST750LX003Emran 2012-04-12 03:37
Got it on my MBP 13 and compared with my son's MBP 15 on SSD, boot up just a tad slower compared to the SSD, but everything feels snappy on the Macbook. I going to get MBP 17 and will put in the 750GB on day 1. This solution works great on notebooks since you have only 1 drive option (unless you forgo the optical). So you have very fast drive and spacious too.
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# 500 GB SSD versus Seagate Momentus XT 7200rpm HHD (750GB HD with 8GB SSD)JMSigler2 2012-08-31 20:33
This is where I find myself comparing the market.

The price differential is close enough now that I question myself as to whether I should commit to a lower price and higher storage capacity, or commit to higher price with better reliability and overall performance. Personally, I am also thinking about cheap 2.5? 1TB 5400rpm drives as a backup solution for the 500GB(x2) SSD solution or going to the Seagate Momentus XT 750GB drives (x2) with higher capacity space and higher SSD cache of 8GB per drive, than the 500GB first generation drives had with 4GB SSD per drive, also then switching my drive solution to RAID-1 (Mirroring) instead of RAID-0 (stripping) where I can forget about the need for backup drives.

One other think I am thinking about is the new mSATA mini SATA SSD drives that now match full size SSD drives of 6Gbps. Check out these two links.

If every penny count and you are on a tight budget, then this Seagate Momentus XT Hybrid ST750LX003 drive is a great solution for the price. I do think the full and mini SATA SSD drives will force conventional and hybrid drives down even further to where they will amost become obsolete. However, I have found research that SSD drives on average have about 2 million read write operations before they fail. To my knowledge, data cannot be recovered from an SSD. On the other hand, with a little bit of money, you can have data recovered from conventional hard drives. In this way, some might say that a hybrid hard drive offers a combination of performace enhancement and residual data recovery opportunity, should you fail to backup your data regularly. So this drive is good food for thought.
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# RE: 500 GB SSD versus Seagate Momentus XT 7200rpm HHD (750GB HD with 8GB SSD)David Ramsey 2012-08-31 21:22
Your research on SSDs is incomplete/incorrect. Current multi-level cell devices support an effectively infinite number of read cycles and 2,000-5,000 write cycles. The ARM-based controllers use sophisticated wear-levelling software to spread the load around the individual flash memory chips; and most SSDs are "over provisioned" (i.e. they have more actual memory than their capacity states) so that data in write-failing blocks can be moved. When enough flash memory chips on the SSD fail to write, it becomes a "read only" device.

At least that's the theory. Although consumer SSDs have been on the market for several years now, I haven't heard of this happening yet.

Data recovery from a failed drive should never be a consideration-- that's what backups are for. Companies like DriveSavers do offer SSD data recovery, though, should you need it.
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# SSD and MTBFJMSigler2 2012-09-03 14:13
I stand corrected on the read operations. I over generalized. I should have referred only to write operations. Also, yes, any drive usually put to market has extra space so failing blocks can be moved or marked for non-use. One thing I found on conventional drives with RAID is that if a block or cluster fails, then all drives in the RAID are marked as a bad cylinder. You have also taught me something new about a failing SSD device becoming a read-only device. I have never experienced a failing SSD, so I will have to take your word on this. I concur with you on Data Recovery and backups, but Murphy's law still lives; any extra safety net never hurts. Thanks for the added input.
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# so what to buy?Paul 2013-02-28 08:16
an intel 835 SSD at 256GB or a seagate momentus XT? with 7500 RPM an
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# RE: so what to buy?Olin Coles 2013-02-28 08:30
It depends. If you want the drive for storing files, the hybrid wins. If you're running the OS and programs from it, then the SSD is best.
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