Seagate Momentus XT: The Best of Both Worlds?

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The Momentus XT with its unique properties, prompted us to develop a proper hard drive test suite. Initially we tried using our standard system test suite but this proved rather pointless as most of the results were the same regardless of what drive was used (most consumer file archiving, audio and video encoding applications are less hard drive dependent than we believed). Eventually we settled on a mix of application, load, install, and copy times to give a good sense of what to expect during real world use instead of the usual canned synthetic benchmarks.

Our entire test suite was run start to finish 3 times on each drive with a reboot and defragmentation in between runs for each drive except for SSDs and the XT (defragmentation resets optimizations made to the XT's flash memory). The best times were collected for comparison.

Boot and application loading times are typically where users see the most gain from having an SSD — the XT is certainly no disappointment in this department. The boot time and loading times for two games, Call of Duty: World At War and Far Cry 2, were better than a couple of 5400 RPM notebook drives as well as a pair of desktop drives. While it had no trouble besting mechanical hard drives, it fell well short of the Kingston SSDNow, a budget 64GB SSD.

Application performance was more like that of a mechanical hard drive, but the XT was still impressive, edging out the Barracuda 7200.11 in total completion time of three tests: creating an encrypted file container with TrueCrypt, creating a checksum file with ExactFile, and anti-virus scanning with NOD32.

When copying files to itself, the XT was far less impressive, though it still left the Scorpio Blue and Hitachi Travelstar 5K320 in its dust.

Timed installs of PowerDVD and 3DMark06 the XT's speed was more sobering, just a few seconds faster than the Scorpio Blue and a tad slower than the Samsung EcoGreen.

Adaptive Memory Performance: Did It Learn?

To get a better idea of how well the drive learned with its Adaptive Memory feature, we ran the XT through an additional 2 runs through our test suite. While none of our individual benchmarks displayed continual improvement through all 5 runs, performance as a whole did indeed generally get better with time; the difference between the first and last run was 4.2%. However it should be pointed out that the 4th run turned out to be the second slowest. It seems to us that on occasion, the difference made by Adaptive Memory isn't enough to cancel out the random amount of variation that occurs doing timed benchmarks.

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