The Momentus XT 750GB is a more refined hybrid solution than its 500GB predecessor. The flash memory still only works as a read cache, but it's bigger, faster, and being used to greater effect. Seagate has upgraded the rest of the drive, too, giving it higher-density platters and a DRAM cache that's just fast enough to take advantage of the 6Gbps SATA interface.
Our exhaustive suite of tests has exposed a couple of weaknesses in Seagate's latest hybrid. The drive's sequential transfer rates are a little behind those of the Scorpio Black 750GB in targeted benchmarks, and the XT's poor performance in the copy component of our first batch of DriveBench workloads is cause for concern. Don't be too concerned, though. The Momentus XT offers excellent real-world copy speeds, and it's especially good at moving around large batches of small files.
While the Momentus XT boasts much better all-around performance than its Scorpio competition, Seagate must contend with a wave of solid-state drives that are faster across the board—in some cases by huge margins. The hybrid has one discrepancy on its side, though. With 750GB under the hood, the Momentus XT serves up hundreds of gigabytes more than the SSDs in its price range.
If you can squeeze everything you need into 120GB (or 250GB), then by all means spend a little bit less (or a little bit more) on solid-state storage. For everyone else, which probably includes most of the folks using notebooks as their primary PCs, the Momentus XT offers an excellent compromise between solid-state and mechanical storage. It would be nice if the drive were equipped with more flash and the ability to cache incoming writes, but the Momentus XT is still without peers. The only way to get anything comparable is to run dual drives with separate caching software, and that's just not possible with a huge swath of notebooks.
I was completely sold on the Momentus XT 750GB when it was set to cost $189. With the drive now priced at $245, I'm not as enthusiastic. This is still a great alternative to standard mechanical disks for single-drive notebooks, and it's TR Recommended for that segment of the market. However, this next-gen hybrid costs amost as much as a mechanical drive plus a small SSD, and I'd take the dual-drive combo in any system that could accommodate it.
69 comments — Last by CBHvi7t at 4:21 AM on 06/15/12
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