Samsung M9T 2TB (2.5-inch) & Seagate SSHD 2TB

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Samsung M9T 2TB (2.5-inch) & Seagate SSHD 2TB

November 24, 2014 by Lawrence Lee

Product
Samsung SpinPoint M9T 2TB
2.5-inch Hard Drive
Seagate Desktop SSHD 2TB
3.5-inch Hard Drive
Manufacturer
Seagate
Street Price
US$120 US$105

Today we look at a pair of a very different hard drives from Seagate. They share the same capacity, but have differing form factors and motor speeds. That being said, each has an interesting angle to play.


The Samsung SpinPoint M9T 2TB.

The last time we reviewed a Samsung hard drive was in 2010, before the hard drive division was acquired by Seagate. Since then, things have been relatively quiet. We haven't seen any big innovations or product launches since then, to the point where we almost forgot they still made storage products. The SpinPoint M9T may be the first notable Samsung/Seagate release in all that time, a 2.5 inch hard drive with a 5400 RPM motor available in capacities of 1.5TB and 2TB. This in itself isn't remarkable, as both Western Digital and Toshiba have 2TB notebook drives available for sale. However, the M9T is the first and currently only high capacity model using a standard 9.5 mm thick form factor. Competing drives are 15 mm thick, making them incompatible with the majority of devices that accept 2.5 inch drives. The M9T uses a 3 x 667GB platter design to achieve this feat while its competition is still stuck on a 4 x 500GB layout.


The Seagate Desktop SSHD 2TB.

The Seagate Desktop SSHD 2TB, being a year old, is not as cutting edge technology-wise, but it's still an intrigue drive nevertheless. As the name implies, it's a 3.5 inch hybrid model, a 7200 RPM desktop hard drive combined with a small amount of NAND Flash (in this case, 8GB). It's an attempt to give consumers the responsiveness of a solid-state drive without sacrificing capacity. It works by automatically identifying the most commonly used files and storing them on the NAND portion in order to lower access times. We tested their first attempt with the technology, the Momentus XT 500GB, which showed some promise at the time, though it failed to come close to replicating the speed of a true SSD. Hybrid drives are much more common in today's climate, particularly in notebooks, so it will be interesting to see how far things have come.

The SSHD is available in 1TB and 4TB (5900 RPM) varieties as well, and utilizes 1TB platters, so the 2TB model weighs a mere 540 grams. With only two platters, the drive has less substantial casing with a deeper inset, which can be a problem acoustically as it doesn't provide as much damping. Combined with the 7200 RPM spindle, this could be a recipe for vibration disaster.


Labels.

Despite being a newer drive, the M9T was manufactured in December 2013, while the date code of the SSHD indicates it rolled off the assembly line in February 2014. Also of interest is the "Momentus" on the M9T's label — there seems to be confusion among some retailers as to what the drive is actually called. Some refer to it as a Seagate SpinPoint while others play it safe, designating it a Samsung Seagate Momentus SpinPoint to cover all their bases. However, the only references on the Seagate website call it the Samsung SpinPoint M9T, so that's the nomenclature we'll be using.

Samsung SpinPoint M9T 2TB & Seagate Desktop SSHD 2TB: Specifications
Model Number ST2000LM003 ST2000DX001
Interface SATA 6 Gb/s NCQ SATA 6 Gb/s NCQ
Rotational Speed 5400 RPM 7200 RPM
NAND Type/Size N/A MLC/8GB
DRAM Cache 32 MB 64 MB
Average Seek Time
(Read / Write)
12 ms <8.5 ms / <9.5 ms
Average Latency 5.6 ms 4.16 ms
Average Data Rate, Read, All Zones N/A 156 MB/s
Average Data Rate From NAND Media N/A 190 MB/s
Max Sustained Data Rate 169 MB/s 210 MB/s
Load/Unload Cycles >600,000 300,000
Acoustics
(Performance Seek / Idle)
2.7 bels / 2.5 bels 2.7 bels / 2.6 bels
Typical Power
(Operating / Idle)
2.3 W / 0.7 W 6.7 W / 4.5 W
Dimensions
(H x W x D)
0.37 x 2.75 x 3.95 in or
9.5 x 69.9 x 100.4 mm
1.03 x 4.0 x 5.8 in or
26.1 x 101.6 x 147.0 mm
Weight 0.29 lb or 130 g 1.18 lb or 535 g

On paper you can see the SSHD has a big advantage. Its motor spins faster, it has the NAND Flash of course, as well as twice as much traditional cache. The specified transfer rates and access times are all in the hybrid drive's favor. The M9T seems to have a slight advantage in acoustics and rated load/unload cycles, but the latter is understandable as notebook drives almost always have a head-parking feature.



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