Seagate’s 600 SSD solid-state drive reviewed

Since its inception, the consumer SSD market has comprised a diverse collection of competitors. The makeup is varied in part because of the nature of the components inside contemporary solid-state drives: a controller chip, some DRAM cache, and an array of NAND. There are numerous off-the-shelf options for each category, allowing smaller firms to piece together drives without designing or fabricating any of the actual chips involved. Larger flash manufacturers usually sell complete SSDs in addition to the chips that go inside them, and their drives often use the same third-party controller silicon as those produced by smaller players. As a result, the market is teeming with comparable offerings from a range of vendors.

While just about everyone seems to be getting in on the solid-state party, one group has been conspicuously absent. The biggest desktop hard drive makers have all steered clear of client SSDs. They’ve made strategic SSD-related acquisitions and produced enterprise-oriented drives. Some have even developed hybrid products that combine mechanical platters with flash-based caches. However, they’ve ceded the market for high-performance system drives.

Well, at least they used to. We’ve always known the major hard drive makers would enter the client SSD business eventually, and Seagate has finally made its move. Behold the simply named Seagate 600 SSD.

This nondescript-looking drive comes in enclosures 5 mm or 7 mm thick. 5-mm bays will likely feature in the next generation of ultra-slim notebooks, and I expect the 600 SSD will be available in some of those systems. You probably won’t see the slimmer version selling on its own at places like Amazon and Newegg, though. Online retailers are likely to stick with the 7-mm variant pictured above.

The drive’s 7-mm case is held together by metal clips rather than traditional screws. Cracking it open required some prying that, while gentle, still mangled the back plate a little. The things we do to bring you naked circuit board pictures. Speaking of which…

All the action happens on this side of the circuit board. An array of eight NAND packages sits on the left, while the controller and DRAM cache lie on the right.

Link_A_Media Devices (LAMD) provides the controller. The little-known firm was purchased by memory giant SK Hynix last summer, right about the time its LM87800 controller started popping up in Corsair’s Neutron Series drives. The very same silicon anchors the Seagate 600 SSD.

Why did Seagate select the LAMD controller over better-known solutions from the likes of Marvell and SandForce? Because it had a hand in developing the chip. Seagate worked with LAMD on a portion of the LM87800 as part of a project that didn’t make it to market. Despite the fate of that endeavor, Seagate was left with “high confidence” in the design it produced.

The LM87800 wasn’t so much chosen for the Seagate 600 SSD as it was inherited from that drive’s enterprise-oriented brother, the 600 Pro. The client drive is derived from its server-grade sibling, which shares the same controller and NAND. Seagate selected the LAMD chip in part for its server-friendly performance characteristics, including its high I/O throughput per watt. Considering how well the Neutron Series performed in our server-style IOMeter benchmarks, it’s easy to see why.

The LAMD chip features dual ARM processor cores: one to power its 6Gbps Serial ATA interface, and the other to manage its eight parallel NAND channels. There are four chip-enables per channel, so optimal performance requires at least 32 individual NAND dies. Most modern controllers have similar channel configurations.

To combat NAND wear, the LM87800 employs what LAMD calls eBoost technology. This feature promises enterprise-class reliability through the use of “proprietary adaptive signal estimation techniques coupled with powerful on-the-fly error correction technology.” As flash cells accumulate write/erase cycles, the voltage window that can be used to represent data shrinks, making advanced signal processing algorithms important to extending the useful life of the NAND.

Endurance is especially important for the Seagate 600 SSD because it features 19-nm MLC NAND. The finer fabrication process is great for squeezing more gigabytes onto each wafer, but it makes the cell walls thinner and more prone to degradation, which reduces their lifespan.

Seagate says 240 and 480GB versions of the 600 SSD can take 72TB of writes before the warranty runs out. If you don’t hit the terabyte limit, the warranty lasts for three years. The 120GB model has the same three-year warranty, but it’s only rated for 36.5TB of writes during that time.

Confusingly, the datasheet also claims the 600 SSD 240 and 480GB are good for maximum writes of 40GB per day. Over three years, that works out to only 44TB. Seagate says the per-day figure is based on longevity with an “industry standard workload defined by Intel.” Intel’s own 335 Series SSD is rated for only 20GB per day with typical client workloads, so the 600 SSD’s endurance spec looks particularly generous.

Capacity Max
data written
Max
sequential (MB/s)
4KB random (IOps) Price $/GB
Read Write Read Write
120GB 36.5TB 500 300 80,000 60,000 $110 $0.92
240GB 72TB 500 400 80,000 70,000 $210 $0.88
480GB 72TB 500 400 80,000 70,000 $410 $0.85

Toshiba supplies the Toggle DDR NAND for the 600 SSD. Each of our 240GB drive’s eight flash packages has four dies, which adds up to a 32-die config that fully exploits the controller’s built-in parallelism. The performance ratings in the table above confirm that the 240GB model is as fast as the 600 SSD gets. The write ratings are lower for the 120GB variant because it has fewer NAND dies connected to the controller.

Seagate’s datasheet and product manual disagree on the 600 SSD’s performance specs. The figures above were taken from the datasheet, but the manual claims the drive can hit 530MB/s with sequential reads and 440MB/s with writes. The manual applies those numbers to the 120GB model, as well, so I wouldn’t put too much stock in them. We’ll measure performance for ourselves in a moment.

Normally, I’d tell you all about the 600 SSD’s accompanying utility software before moving on to our benchmark results. However, Seagate’s SeaTools app hasn’t been updated with SSD-specific functions. Seagate says secure-erase and wear-monitoring functionality will be added “shortly.” In the meantime, you can track the amount of data written to the drive by watching its SMART attributes with third-party software.

Our testing methods

If you’re familiar with our testing methods and hardware, the rest of this page is filled with nerdy details you already know; feel free to skip ahead to the benchmark results. For the rest of you, we’ve summarized the essential characteristics of all the drives we’ve tested in the table below. Our collection of SSDs includes representatives based on the most popular SSD configurations on the market right now.

Interface Cache Flash controller NAND
Corsair Force Series 3
240GB
6Gbps NA SandForce SF-2281 25nm Micron async MLC
Corsair Force Series GT
240GB
6GBps NA SandForce SF-2281 25nm Intel sync MLC
Corsair Neutron 240GB 6GBps 256MB LAMD LM87800 25nm Micron sync MLC
Corsair Neutron GTX
240GB
6GBps 256MB LAMD LM87800 26nm Toshiba Toggle MLC
Crucial m4 256GB 6Gbps 256MB Marvell 88SS9174 25nm Micron sync MLC
Crucial M500 240GB 6Gbps 256MB Marvell 88SS9187 20nm Micron sync MLC
Intel 335 Series 240GB 6Gbps NA SandForce SF-2281 20nm Intel sync MLC
Intel 520 Series 240GB 6Gbps NA SandForce SF-2281 25nm Intel sync MLC
OCZ Agility 4 256GB 6Gbps 512MB Indilinx Everest 2 25nm Micron async MLC
OCZ Vector 256GB 6Gbps 512MB Indilinx Barefoot 3 25nm Intel sync MLC
OCZ Vertex 4 256GB 6Gbps 512MB Indilinx Everest 2 25nm Intel sync MLC
Samsung 830 Series 256GB 6Gbps 256MB Samsung MCX 27nm Samsung Toggle MLC
Samsung 840 Series 250GB 6Gbps 512MB Samsung MDX 21nm Samsung Toggle TLC
Samsung 840 Pro 256GB 6Gbps 512MB Samsung MDX 21nm Samsung Toggle MLC
Seagate 600 SSD 240GB 6GBps 256MB LAMD LM87800 19nm Toshiba
Toggle MLC
WD Caviar Black 1TB 6Gbps 64MB NA NA

To illustrate how this crop of SSDs stacks up against mechanical storage, we’ve thrown a Western Digital Caviar Black 1TB into the mix. Don’t expect this 7,200-RPM hard drive to keep up; it’s included for reference only.

We used the following system configuration for testing:

Processor Intel
Core i5-2500K 3.3GHz
CPU cooler
Thermaltake Frio
Motherboard
Asus P8P67 Deluxe
Bios revision 1850
Platform hub Intel P67
Express
Platform drivers INF update
9.2.0.1030

RST 10.6.0.1022

Memory size 8GB (2
DIMMs)
Memory type
Corsair Vengeance DDR3 SDRAM
at 1333MHz
Memory timings 9-9-9-24-1T
Audio Realtek
ALC892 with 2.62 drivers
Graphics
Asus EAH6670/DIS/1GD5 1GB
with Catalyst 11.7 drivers
Hard drives Corsair Force 3 Series 240GB with 1.3.2 firmware

Corsair Force Series GT 240GB with 1.3.2 firmware

Crucial m4 256GB with 010G firmware

WD Caviar Black 1TB with 05.01D05 firmware

OCZ Agility 4 256GB with 1.5.2 firmware

Samsung 830 Series 256GB with CXM03B1Q firmware

Intel 520 Series 240GB with 400i firmware

OCZ Vertex 4 256GB with 1.5 firmware

Corsair Neutron 240GB with M206 firmware

Corsair Neutron GTX 240GB with M206 firmware

Intel 335 Series 240GB with 335s firmware

Samsung 840 Series 250GB with DXT07B0Q firmware

OCZ Vector 256GB with 10200000 firmware

Samsung 840 Pro Series 256GB with DXM04B0Q firmware

Crucial M500 240GB with MU02 firmware

Seagate 600 SSD 240GB with B660 firmware

Power supply Corsair Professional Series Gold AX650W
OS Windows 7 Ultimate x64

Thanks to Asus for providing the systems’ motherboards and graphics cards, Intel for the CPUs, Corsair for the memory and PSUs, Thermaltake for the CPU coolers, and Western Digital for the Caviar Black 1TB system drives.

We used the following versions of our test applications:

Some further notes on our test methods:

  • To ensure consistent and repeatable results, the SSDs were secure-erased before almost every component of our test suite. Some of our tests then put the SSDs into a used state before the workload begins, which better exposes each drive’s long-term performance characteristics. In other tests, like DriveBench and FileBench, we induce a used state before testing. In all cases, the SSDs were in the same state before each test, ensuring an even playing field. The performance of mechanical hard drives is much more consistent between factory fresh and used states, so we skipped wiping the HDDs before each test—mechanical drives take forever to secure erase.

  • We run all our tests at least three times and report the median of the results. We’ve found IOMeter performance can fall off with SSDs after the first couple of runs, so we use five runs for solid-state drives and throw out the first two.

  • Steps have been taken to ensure that Sandy Bridge’s power-saving features don’t taint any of our results. All of the CPU’s low-power states have been disabled, effectively pegging the 2500K at 3.3GHz. Transitioning in and out of different power states can affect the performance of storage benchmarks, especially when dealing with short burst transfers.

The test systems’ Windows desktop was set at 1280×1024 in 32-bit color at a 75Hz screen refresh rate. Most of the tests and methods we employed are publicly available and reproducible. If you have questions about our methods, hit our forums to talk with us about them.

HD Tune — Transfer rates

HD Tune lets us present transfer rates in a couple of different ways. Using the benchmark’s “full test” setting gives us a good look at performance across the entire drive rather than extrapolating based on a handful of sample points. The full test gives us fodder for line graphs, which we’ve split up by drive maker. You can click the buttons below each line graph to see how the Seagate 600 SSD compares to its rivals.


The Seagate 600 SSD isn’t too far off the lead in HD Tune’s sequential read speed test. It’s slower than the latest drives from Samsung and Crucial but faster than Corsair’s Neutron SSDs, which are based on the same controller technology.

The Corsair Neutrons we’ve tested are the original models; the standard one has 25-nm Micron flash, while the GTX uses 26-nm Toshiba chips. Corsair has since released updated versions of the drives with newer NAND.


HD Tune’s sequential write speed test creates problems for the Seagate 600 SSD. The drive’s oscillating transfer rate produces a low overall average. The Neutrons also have spikey transfer rate profiles and sluggish averages, putting all three LAMD-based SSDs at the bottom of the standings.

For what it’s worth, the SandForce-based drives also behave erratically in this test. They have higher average write speeds thanks to shallower valleys between their evenly spaced spikes.

HD Tune runs on unpartitioned drives, with no file system in place, which might explain the spikes on some of the SSDs. For another take on sequential speed, we’ll turn to CrystalDiskMark, which runs on partitioned drives. We used the benchmark’s sequential test with the default 1GB transfer size and randomized data.

CrystalDiskMark’s transfer rate tests produce higher speeds overall. The read speed test puts the Seagate 600 SSD in much the same position it occupied in HD Tune: just behind the Samsung drives at the front of the pack. In the write speed test, the 600 SSD does nearly as well, slipping to fifth place behind the Neutron GTX. Unlike in HD Tune’s write speed test, the LAMD-based drives do fairly well here.

HD Tune — Random access times

In addition to letting us test transfer rates, HD Tune can measure random access times. We’ve tested with four transfer sizes and presented all the results in a couple of line graphs. We’ve also busted out the 4KB and 1MB transfers sizes into bar graphs that should be easier to read without the presence of the mechanical drive.

The line graph illustrates the vast gulf between the random access times of solid-state and mechanical storage. Even at the 1MB transfer size, where the two storage categories draw slightly closer, there’s still an order-of-magnitude difference between the two camps. That’s why SSDs feel so much more responsive than traditional hard drives.

Among the SSDs, the Seagate drive fares relatively well; it’s only fractions of a millisecond off the lead in the 4KB and 1MB tests. Most of the SSDs stick closely together.

While the Seagate 600 SSD has the slowest 4KB random write response time of the bunch, it trails the fastest SSD by just seven microseconds. There’s more variance in our 1MB random write results. The field is fairly spread out, and the Seagate 600 SSD sits almost exactly in the middle.

TR FileBench — Real-world copy speeds

Concocted by resident developer Bruno “morphine” Ferreira, FileBench runs through a series of file copy operations using Windows 7’s xcopy command. Using xcopy produces nearly identical copy speeds to dragging and dropping files using the Windows GUI, so our results should be representative of typical real-world performance. We tested using the following five file sets—note the differences in average file sizes and their compressibility. We evaluated the compressibility of each file set by comparing its size before and after being run through 7-Zip’s “ultra” compression scheme.

  Number of files Average file size Total size Compressibility
Movie 6 701MB 4.1GB 0.5%
RAW 101 23.6MB 2.32GB 3.2%
MP3 549 6.48MB 3.47GB 0.5%
TR 26,767 64.6KB 1.7GB 53%
Mozilla 22,696 39.4KB 923MB 91%

The names of most of the file sets are self-explanatory. The Mozilla set is made up of all the files necessary to compile the browser, while the TR set includes years worth of the images, HTML files, and spreadsheets behind my reviews. Those two sets contain much larger numbers of smaller files than the other three. They’re also the most amenable to compression.

To get a sense of how aggressively each SSD reclaims flash pages tagged by the TRIM command, we run FileBench with the solid-state drives in two states. We first test the SSDs in a fresh state after a secure erase. They’re then subjected to a 30-minute IOMeter workload, generating a tortured used state ahead of another batch of copy tests. We haven’t found a substantial difference in the performance of mechanical drives between these two states. Let’s start with the fresh-state results.

The Seagate 600 SSD turns in a mostly middle-of-the-road performance in our first wave of FileBench tests. Surprisingly, it trails the Neutrons by a fair bit when copying the larger movie, MP3, and RAW files. The competition is much closer in the Mozilla and TR tests, where all the LAMD-based drives are essentially tied. Overall transfer rates are much lower in those tests, though, and the field is more tightly packed.

Our used-state results don’t differ substantially from those we obtained in a fresh state. The Seagate 600 SSD still loses to the Neutrons when copying larger files and draws closer with smaller ones. At least its performance is more balanced than that of the SandForce posse, which offers higher copy speeds with small files but even lower ones with large files.

Some of the SSDs slow down a little when put into our simulated used state. That’s not a problem for the Seagate 600 SSD, whose used-state copy speeds are within 2% of its fresh-state scores.

TR DriveBench 1.0 — Disk-intensive multitasking

TR DriveBench allows us to record the individual IO requests associated with a Windows session and then play those results back as fast as possible on different drives. We’ve used this app to create a set of multitasking workloads that combine common desktop tasks with disk-intensive background operations like compiling code, copying files, downloading via BitTorrent, transcoding video, and scanning for viruses. The individual workloads are explained in more detail here.

Below, you’ll find an overall average followed by scores for each of our individual workloads. The overall score is an average of the mean performance score for each multitasking workload.

Another test, another middle-of-the-pack performance from the Seagate 600 SSD. This time, the drive is just a hair faster than the Corsair Neutron but slower than the pricier Neutron GTX. The OCZ Vector runs away with this one, delivering 22% more IOps than the Seagate 600 SSD and 8% more than its closest rival, the Intel 520 Series.

Let’s dig into the individual results to see if the Seagate 600 SSD stands out in any of the tests that make up our overall score.

The Seagate drive claws into fourth place in the file copy test. That’s its only stand-out performance, and the Neutrons are similarly speedy in the same test. The LAMD controller probably deserves much of the credit.

TR DriveBench 2.0 — More disk-intensive multitasking

As much as we like DriveBench 1.0’s individual workloads, the traces cover only slices of disk activity. Because we fire the recorded I/Os at the disks as fast as possible, solid-state drives also have no downtime during which to engage background garbage collection or other optimization algorithms. DriveBench 2.0 addresses both of those issues with a much larger trace that spans two weeks of typical desktop activity peppered with multitasking loads similar to those in DriveBench 1.0. We’ve also adjusted our testing methods to give solid-state drives enough idle time to tidy up after themselves. More details on DriveBench 2.0 are available on this page of our last major SSD round-up.

Instead of looking at a raw IOps rate, we’re going to switch gears and explore service times—the amount of time it takes drives to complete an I/O request. We’ll start with an overall mean service time before slicing and dicing the results.

Oh, snap. The Seagate 600 SSD delivers where it counts, turning in one of the lowest mean service times we’ve ever recorded in DriveBench 2.0. All the top drives are all closely matched, though. Let’s sort DriveBench service times into reads and writes to see what we can learn.

Most of the mean read service times are very close. While the Seagate 600 SSD doesn’t really distinguish itself, it’s not too far off the leaders.

The Seagate drive looks comparatively better when we consider write service times. The results are more spread out, and the 600 SSD lands in fourth place behind the Neutron GTX, the Samsung 830 Series, and the OCZ Vector. The standard Neutron also scores well, earning the LAMD controller another gold star.

There are millions of I/O requests in this trace, so we can’t easily graph service times to look at the variance. However, our analysis tools do report the standard deviation, which can give us a sense of how much service times vary from the mean.

In addition to being quick, the Seagate 600 SSD’s access times are consistent. The drive has particularly little variance in its write access times. Only a handful of the SSDs exhibit substantially more variance than the bulk of the solid-state field, though.

We can’t easily graph all the service times recorded by DriveBench 2.0, but we can sort them. The graphs below plot the percentage of service times that fall below various thresholds. You can click the buttons below the graphs to see how the M500s compare to the other drives.



For the most part, the SSDs have comparable write service time distributions. The Seagate 600 SSD tends to squeeze more requests under each threshold, but the plots are so close that they might as well be overlapping.

The read results are more varied, although most of the solid-state drives follow similarly shaped curves. While the Seagate 600 SSD has nearly the fewest service times under the 0.1-millisecond threshold, it quickly bounces back and stays within striking distance of the most responsive drives we’ve tested. Only the Samsung 840 family enjoys a substantial advantage over a large chunk of the curve.

All of the drives service the vast majority of I/O requests in under 100 milliseconds. That’s where the plots end, but service times that take longer than 100 ms are still important. Those extremely long service times have the potential to cause the sort of hitching that users might notice, so we’ve graphed the individual percentages for each drive.

The percentages are very low overall, but keep in mind that we’re talking about 39 million read and write operations over the length of the test— 0.001% still represents a lot of I/O.

That said, only a handful of the SSDs exhibit glaring weakness here. The Seagate 600 SSD isn’t one of them, though it does have more extremely long read service times than many of its peers. The percentage is still relatively low compared to the worst offenders.

IOMeter

Our IOMeter workloads feature a ramping number of concurrent I/O requests. Most desktop systems will only have a few requests in flight at any given time (87% of DriveBench 2.0 requests have a queue depth of four or less). We’ve extended our scaling up to 32 concurrent requests to reach the depth of the Native Command Queuing pipeline associated with the Serial ATA specification. Ramping up the number of requests also gives us a sense of how the drives might perform in more demanding enterprise environments.

We run our IOMeter tests using the fully randomized data pattern, which presents a particular challenge for SandForce’s write compression scheme. We’d rather measure SSD performance in this worst-case scenario than using easily compressible data.

There’s too much data to show clearly on a single graph for each access pattern, so we’ve once again split the results by drive maker. You can compare the performance of the Seagate 600 SSD to that of the competition by clicking the buttons below each graph.


The web server access pattern contains read requests exclusively, so we’ll deal with it first. Although the Seagate 600 SSD can’t quite keep up with the Samsung 840 family, it’s competitive with the Corsair Neutrons and the OCZ Vector. Unlike the Neutrons, whose I/O rates start to plateau after 16 concurrent requests, the Seagate drive keeps scaling all the way up to 32 simultaneous requests.




Our remaining IOMeter tests combine read and write requests, and the Seagate 600 SSD seems to prefer the mixed workloads. Indeed, all the LAMD-based drives fare well here. The 600 SSD clearly offers higher I/O rates than the Neutrons, which enjoy healthy advantages over the rest of the competition.

Boot duration

Before timing a couple of real-world applications, we first have to load the OS. We can measure how long that takes by checking the Windows 7 boot duration using the operating system’s performance-monitoring tools. This is actually the first test in which we’re booting Windows off each drive; up until this point, our testing has been hosted by an OS housed on a separate system drive.

Level load times

Modern games lack built-in timing tests to measure level loads, so we busted out a stopwatch with a couple of reasonably recent titles.

SSDs have much quicker load times than mechanical storage. However, no one SSD really distances itself from the rest of the solid-state crowd. Even though the Seagate 600 SSD sits in the middle of the rankings, it’s only 0.4 seconds slower than the fastest drive in each test.

Power consumption

We tested power consumption under load with IOMeter’s workstation access pattern chewing through 32 concurrent I/O requests. Idle power consumption was probed one minute after processing Windows 7’s idle tasks on an empty desktop.

While the Seagate 600 SSD isn’t the most power-efficient drive, it does draw fewer watts than the Neutrons at both idle and under load. The differences under load are much starker, particularly versus the standard Neutron. Overall, the Seagate 600 SSD’s power draw is largely consistent with that of the Samsung 840 family.

The value perspective

Welcome to our famous value analysis, which adds capacity and pricing to the performance data we’ve explored over the preceding pages. With the exception of the Samsung 830 Series, which is out of stock at most vendors, we used Newegg prices for all the SSDs. We didn’t take mail-in rebates into account when performing our calculations.

First, we’ll look at the all-important cost per gigabyte, which we’ve obtained using the amount of storage capacity accessible to users in Windows.

With a $210 asking price, the Seagate 600 SSD 240GB can’t match the cheapest drives. However, it’s competitive with the mid-range SSDs and comfortably below the dollar-per-gig threshold.

We aren’t used to seeing Samsung’s 830 Series 256GB SSD available at such a low price; the drive has been discontinued, and online stocks have dwindled since late last year. However, a highly rated Amazon affiliate is selling the 256GB model for $220. Most other vendors with stock have the 830 Series priced closer to $300.

Our remaining value calculation uses a single performance score that we’ve derived by comparing how each drive stacks up against a common baseline provided by the Momentus 5400.4, a 2.5″ notebook drive with a painfully slow 5,400-RPM spindle speed. This index uses a subset of our performance data described on this page of our last SSD round-up.

Although it sits midway down the graph, the Seagate 600 SSD is much closer to the front of the field than it is to the back. Apart from the top two drives, which have healthy leads, the next seven are packed tightly into a span of just 40 percentage points. The Seagate 600 SSD sits in that bunch with the Neutrons and the faster SandForce-based drives.

Now for the real magic. We can plot this overall score on one axis and each drive’s cost per gigabyte on the other to create a scatter plot of performance per dollar per gigabyte. The best place on the plot is the upper-left corner, which combines high performance with a low price.

Keeping the mechanical drive in play makes the plot a little hard to read. The hard drive is down in the lower left corner, with very low overall performance and a price to match. Meanwhile, the SSDs drift to the upper right corner, which denotes higher prices but also higher performance. The gaps between the mechanical and solid-state drives are wide on both axes.

Let’s trim the axes to get a closer look at the SSDs.

Only a few of the Seagate 600 SSD’s rivals are cheaper on our pricing scale. Among them, just two match its overall performance. There’s also a small group of drives with slightly higher performance for a few more cents per gigabyte.

Keep in mind that the axes have been cut by half. All the drives in the upper echelon exhibit similar all-around performance, and the Seagate 600 SSD is one of the most affordable of the bunch.

Conclusions

Seagate’s first consumer-focused SSD has been a long time coming. Was it worth the wait? Yes and no.

For the most part, the Seagate 600 SSD doesn’t do anything we haven’t seen before. Its LAMD controller and Toshiba NAND are used by other drive makers. Some of the firmware is undoubtedly Seagate’s own, but the company isn’t touting any bold innovations on that front. (We can’t get more info on the firmware without signing away our ability to tell you about it.) Instead, Seagate seems largely content to sell consumers on the benefits of SSDs versus old-school hard drives—not on the merits of the 600 SSD versus its peers.

The thing is, there’s plenty to recommend the Seagate 600 SSD over competing solutions. Our IOMeter results illustrate that the LAMD controller, and especially this implementation of it, boasts phenomenal performance under demanding workloads. Combine those IOMeter transaction rates with relatively tame power consumption under load, and the 600 SSD delivers on Seagate’s goal of providing excellent I/O throughput per watt.

Admittedly, Seagate’s priorities seem to have been focused more on the server-friendly 600 Pro SSD. The margins are higher in the enterprise world, especially considering the rabid competition in the consumer market. I can’t complain about the 600 Pro’s foundation trickling down to a client-oriented product, though. The strong random I/O performance that makes the LAMD controller so appealing for server workloads also pays dividends for real-world multitasking and other desktop tasks. Sequential throughput may be the 600 SSD’s only weakness, but it’s a modest one at best.

As we’ve seen throughout our tests, most decent SSDs offer snappy overall performance. But there’s more to the drives than their benchmark scores. Longevity matters, and Seagate has enough confidence to give the 600 SSD a generous endurance rating. Seagate has also priced the drive relatively aggressively. At $210 online, the 240GB model is one of the most affordable mid-range SSDs out there.

Seagate still has some work to do on its Windows software, but the 600 SSD is an otherwise solid consumer drive. Your move, WD.

Comments closed
    • LauraLasher43
    • 7 years ago
    • halbhh2
    • 7 years ago

    I don’t understand why some makers don’t just jump to the higher speeds on the card bus.

      • halbhh2
      • 7 years ago

      It seems to be taking a long time:

      [url<]https://techreport.com/review/22663/ocz-revodrive-3-x2-240gb-solid-state-drive/12[/url<] "The RevoDrive also gives us a glimpse into the future SSDs. 2.5" drives are already close to eclipsing the bandwidth available in the 6Gbps Serial ATA interface, and you won't find a new SATA spec waiting in the wings with a fatter pipe."

      • Firestarter
      • 7 years ago

      intel is working on this with NVM Express

      • Krogoth
      • 7 years ago

      SATA Express is coming around the corner.

      It combines the bandwidth of PCIe, while retaining software compatibility of ATA and SCSI standards.

    • ClickClick5
    • 7 years ago

    [quote<]Confusingly, the datasheet also claims the 600 SSD 240 and 480GB are good for maximum writes of 40GB per day.[/quote<] So....install and then reinstall RAGE. Quota exceeded.

    • Bensam123
    • 7 years ago

    Nice article, meh drive… Sorta disappointing after all this time and Seagate doesn’t really have anything amazing to show for it.

    Do you think we could get some raid benchmarks in here? The only reason I ask is because people have been encountering weird things running SSDs in raid, myself being one of them. I have a 3xr0 Samsung 830 128Gb array and the drives apparently throw CRC errors, which is apparently pretty easy to deal with when they aren’t in a raid array, but when they are it results in the array becoming more and more corrupt.

    I have a nice long thread on it on the forums that I’ve been working with over the past few months, which eventually culminated in a complete data loss while I was juggling ISOs and the OS corruption. The drives also seem to become less and less reliable while they throw more and more CRC errors too (or vice versa).

    CRC errors are also supposedly quite common for Samsung SSDs, most people don’t notice they happen… Those that run into issues with them usually get BSoDs.

    Another good question. Have you guys considered looking at SMART data on your SSDs before and after testing and consider reporting any anomalies? Really stressing out the drive should make them start throwing errors. I think that would be a good place to start since we have no real reliability testing being done in any of the storage benchmarks (except for like used state testing).

      • indeego
      • 7 years ago

      RAID is [b<]extremely[/b<] finicky, it isn't just stick x drive in y RAID controller, and call it good. It's [i<]very[/i<] sensitive to compatibility issues. Even enterprise controllers have very very specific firmware for very specific TESTED drives. Do you think consumer controllers will be more forgiving? I'm sorry, but no. Get a specific RAID controller that is not onboard, that is certified/listed as compatible for your drives of choice, and do follow their best practices. Especially for anything with parity checks. Especially for battery backup. Especially for anything complex. Starting to get the point? It's not that RAID doesn't work under ideal conditions, it's the special cirumstances that you really need to think about. Never use RAID0 for anything, anything that will only have a mission-critical live data without backup handy. But I guess that goes for all data types. But RAID0 isn't RAID. It's just "performance+" Edit: I ignore SMART data because it's never actually pre-warned me of actual "failure." It does a good job at the basics, and it's way better than pre-2005 SMART, but it ain't perfect. I use manufacturer's best practice for drives + controllers where the data is vital, and I focus my energy on backup+getting backup offsite+test of restore of both of those backups. Every drive has the potential to fail, putting your energy into looking at SMART seems misguided.

        • Bensam123
        • 7 years ago

        It used to be just stick X drive in Y controller and call it good. I haven’t had any issues with raid in all my years up till this point.

        I guess, you’re free to do whatever you want like I’m free to use raid 0 for more performance. I never said TR should look at SMART data for prewarnings (for instance some data is completely meaningless or the thresholds have almost no meaning), but general errors that happen on the drive, which I think would be quite meaningful. CRC errors are the popular ones I’ve experienced that correlate with complete windows lock up sand raid corruption.

        I don’t need the backup and raid 0 should never be used lecture. It’s used all the time and I had my backups, a series of really bad errors (CRC which were a part of and the inability to make a new image) happening in sequence resulted in my predicament.

        Looking at a table with numbers on it pretty much any hard drive utility can read doesn’t seem misguided at all. It seems quite informational. It takes almost no effort. It’s better then saying ‘welp we’ve put these SSDs through the benchmarks and nothing has went wrong *stamp of approval*’.

          • indeego
          • 7 years ago

          “It used to be just stick X drive in Y controller and call it good”
          No, it never really was that. Show me an enterprise-level controller that allows for “any drive” to be placed within it and has zero issues without some gotcha. Now do you think consumer level RAID will be anywhere near as robust? Hell, on old Intel RAID setups, there are still numerous issues outstanding. Intel collectively [url=http://communities.intel.com/thread/10785<]shrugs[/url<]. You think they give a rat's [TR UNAPPROVED TERM] about consumer-level RAID? It's RAID in name only. Let's not even get into battery backup/cache. I'm very happy you never had an issue with your RAID setups. It's adorable. It's also unsurprising that now you are having them. Welcome to the reality of RAID in consumerland. I never understood the "more performance" mantra rah rah with RAID0, when your [b<]entire reliability stack[/b<] is reduced by virtue of your surface area for failure is now increased. Uh, so you gain a few blips for performance boost but the entire time you are biting your nails for eventual potential total array loss. There are also dubious claims of performance increases in all cases. By all means, keep on keeping on, it impacts me nil. In the case of SMART, the drive itself is the one reporting the errors. If you don't see the logic flaw(s) in this, I wish you the best of luck. True diagnostics of hardware is done external of the problem condition, debugging turned on, not using the same port I/O as the problem condition, in many cases. The best compromise is a marriage of tested drive firmware to controller firmware. This is why HP/Dell frequently have specific pairings of drive/controller in their workstation/Server setups. The data is verified at many levels. If the controller isn't exactly on board with the data it thinks it sent/received to the drive, what do you want it to do? RAID corruption is almost always due to the controller and logical level. If you are experiencing frequent RAID issues and corruption, it's 100% due to your controller, drive, and firmware not matching per best practices. It's cute that consumers think this is peachy to just look at SMART, or use off-the-shelf drives, but, trust me, in the server world, they do not screw around with "gee let's hope x controller trusts y self-SMART telling us." It doesn't surprise me you had CRC errors. "CRC errors are also supposedly quite common for Samsung SSDs, most people don't notice they happen... Those that run into issues with them usually get BSoDs." Well what are the BSODs? What are the result of debugging them? This isn't rocket science here. Perhaps they are using said setups that aren't supported. I haven't seen them, myself. What does "quite common" even mean, given what particular sample?

            • Bensam123
            • 7 years ago

            My perc 5i and 6i worked fine. I’d still be using my 6i if it didn’t have such poor performance between SSDs and mechanicals.

            I don’t think they need to care about certifying consumer drives though if the implementation is right… Do they work? Yes. I ran a few different raid arrays off Intel chipsets before ending up on a AMD system. I was even able to smoothly transition my raid 0 array between different chipsets without a hitch (both my SSD described above and mechanicals I had awhile back).

            I would only worry about raid 0 if I didn’t have image backups. Few blips of performance was almost a linear 3x increase in reads and writes with my Samsung 830s, when they were functional. I was averaging about 1200MBps on reads and 700MBps on writes.

            Not sure what you mean by dubious claims about performance increases. I test my arrays whenever I upgrade them with HD tach and HD tune… the results are real.

            I don’t really see the flaw about reading errors from a smart table…. It’s true it may not report all errors, but the ones it does report I’m interested in. Simply throwing out the data because you believe it’s arbitrary and drives just fail ‘whenever they feel like it’ doesn’t seem kosher to me. I don’t believe there is much merit in the thresholds as there is in the data that is reported properly.

            I’m not sure where you get me looking at smart data is how I’m diagnosing my computer. I noticed the smart data because my computer keeps locking up, bsoding, the OS or other files became corrupt, or the drive simply died. I noticed the CRC counter increased by one each time my system BSoD’d or locked up. There was no ‘warning’ in the smart data, and the threshold for CRC errors is set to 0.

            We aren’t talking about enterprise level raid here with mission critical data. If the drive doesn’t work in raid consumers should be told DON’T PUT THE DRIVE IN A RAID ARRAY and I think it should be tested to such standards, which is why I suggested TR take a look at it. It has nothing to do with the smart data, it’s actually sorta interesting how you’re taking me saying “Take a look at the smart data to see what sort of errors the drive has put out.” is the same as “OMG TR LOK AT THE SMART DATA AND IF IT’S OVER THE TRESHOLD THE DRIVES BAD!’. No where did I say anything like that.

            That’s going on in the forums right now and if these drives don’t work well in raid arrays other people should know about it so they don’t do the same.

            lol… how many setups are certified for use with Intel or AMD bios raid? The answer is none.

            Do a google search dude, you aren’t even reading what I write and instead chose to get on your soap box. I have no interest in proving points you aren’t even going to look at or immediately attempt to discredit, such as looking at smart data as a curiosity because we really don’t have anything else to go off of as far as reliability goes.

    • indeego
    • 7 years ago

    Man Intel really has some balls to be pricing their 520 like that still. Their name must be worth A LOT.

      • Bensam123
      • 7 years ago

      It is worth a lot… I suppose with good reason too. I wouldn’t buy one at that price though.

      I’m sure they’re still selling them at that price because they do actually sell too…

    • albundy
    • 7 years ago

    price per gb shows the sammy 830 in the lead. plus you get 16gb more. hard to shell out more for the seagate.

      • Farting Bob
      • 7 years ago

      The 830 is almost impossible to find outside of ebay. It’s pretty much been replaced by the 840 and 840 pro. The 840 is cheaper but lower performance, the pro is more expensive but higher performance. The 830 sat in a happy medium between the 2 for a bit but is now practically extinct sadly.

    • Farting Bob
    • 7 years ago

    A completely middle of the road SSD, for a completely middle of the road price.

      • ULYXX
      • 7 years ago

      You summed it up. If they threw in a 5 year warranty that would have probably helped the appeal of their first SSD. Its lost in the sea of so-so drives where other competitors can rely on their brand name to sell it with 3 year warranties.

      • Coran Fixx
      • 6 years ago

      Yep, It would be hard to suggest this drive due to other options of Samsung and Intel. Maybe in the future when there is a reliability history for the drive. I found the value chart very informative, but for me its all about whats on sale (and not OCZ, yes I’m still butthurt over that one).

    • Meadows
    • 7 years ago

    I was getting excited for a new SSD player. Then I saw the write speed benchmarks, and skipped to the comments.

      • brute
      • 7 years ago

      i dont even read the articles. i start commenting right off the bat. my opinions are important!

    • Neutronbeam
    • 7 years ago

    So overall this is a drive to excel by Seagate?

    (That line just never gets old to me)

    • NeelyCam
    • 7 years ago

    Reliability is #1. They are all fast enough, but things going wrong can completely ruin your day/weekend.

      • willmore
      • 7 years ago

      For some markets, sure. If it’s just my Steam games, I’m not as concerned with long term reliability as an enterprise customer would be. Performance would matter most for my application. It’s a spectrum of needs, not a point.

        • NeelyCam
        • 7 years ago

        You’d get a negligible benefit for your Steam games with a supposedly faster SSD, but if the OS SSD dies in the middle of the game, you’d be pretty pissed off… it takes a while to replace it.

          • travbrad
          • 7 years ago

          [quote<]but if the OS SSD dies in the middle of the game, you'd be pretty pissed off... it takes a while to replace it.[/quote<] Yeah even if you have your OS drive imaged it's still a hassle getting/installing a new drive, sending the old one for RMA, etc. In my experience very few people actually image their drive either, so for them that means re-installing windows and all of their applications (not to mention configuring them). [quote<]You'd get a negligible benefit for your Steam games with a supposedly faster SSD, [/quote<] Yep as these TR benchmarks show, the difference between the fastest and slowest SSDs is half a second in game load times (and that's with a stopwatch where there is some margin for error). For games and general PC use you are really best off finding the cheapest reliable SSD you can. It's only when you are copying tons of files or running a file server where the performance differences would actually be noticeable (things most people don't do with their SSD)

            • Prion
            • 7 years ago

            [quote<]For games and general PC use you are really best off finding the cheapest reliable SSD you can.[/quote<] That's pretty much what I was thinking going into this review and trying to wrap my head around all of the benchmarks. I just want an SSD that's 120GB or larger, no outstanding controller/firmware bugs known to cause stuttering or data loss, and good long-term reliability/predicted reliability. Other than that, price is king. Given that criteria, what would you recommend?

            • Coran Fixx
            • 6 years ago

            Samsung 840 non pro

      • Bensam123
      • 7 years ago

      Or months…

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