Seagate Momentus XT: The Best of Both Worlds?

Storage
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AUDIO RECORDINGS

These recordings were made with a high resolution, lab quality, digital recording system inside SPCR's own 11 dBA ambient anechoic chamber, then converted to LAME 128kbps encoded MP3s. We've listened long and hard to ensure there is no audible degradation from the original WAV files to these MP3s. They represent a quick snapshot of what we heard during the review.

These recordings are intended to give you an idea of how the product sounds in actual use — one meter is a reasonable typical distance between a computer or computer component and your ear. The recording contains stretches of ambient noise that you can use to judge the relative loudness of the subject. Be aware that very quiet subjects may not be audible — if we couldn't hear it from one meter, chances are we couldn't record it either!

The recordings start with 5 to 10 seconds of ambient noise, then 10 second segments of the drive in the following states: idle, seek with AAM enabled (if applicable), and seek with AAM disabled.

Comparatives:

CONCLUSIONS

The Seagate Momentus XT 500GB is an interesting integration of flash and mechanical storage. It is certainly a very fast drive, but it in most cases its performance is closer to that of a traditional 7200 RPM hard drive than a solid state drive. As for its Adaptive Memory technology, we did see an improvement of about 4% between our 1st test run and our 5th, so it does seem that the drive does a fair job optimizing what is stored on the flash portion of the drive over time. It's a nice little boost but we can't say how well it holds up over longer periods of time or more varied usage.

While the drive isn't silent like a SSD, its airborne acoustics are excellent for notebook drive in general, not just a 7200 RPM model. We're not sure exactly what Seagate is doing to make their 7200 RPM Momentus drives so quiet, but we hope they keep at it. The other factor that affects noise is vibration, and in this regard the XT is about average.

The last thing to consider is power consumption, something that is obviously paramount for notebook battery life. The XT takes a long time for its head to park, and its idle power usage is on the high side, almost twice that of the Hitachi Travelstar 5K500.B for example. Upgrading from a low power 5400 RPM drive could result in a loss of ~5% or more in idle run time if you have a fairly energy efficient laptop.

Ultimately the Momentus XT is no replacement for a SSD, but it is undoubtedly the fastest drive with spinning platters you can buy for your laptop. It's a fair compromise as the 500GB XT has almost 8 times more capacity than an equivalently priced SSD. If you want the speediest drive available for your notebook without sacrificing capacity or spending a small fortune, the Momentus XT is really the only choice. Just keep in mind you may experience a small reduction in battery life in compensation.

Many thanks to Seagate and Momentus XT sample.


The Seagate Momentus XT is Recommended by SPCR.

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SPCR Articles of Related Interest:
SPCR's Hard Drive Testing Methodology
SPCR's Recommended Hard Drives
Samsung 2TB EcoGreen F3 Hard Drive
Western Digital Green 1.5TB vs. Seagate 7200.12 500GB
More 500GB notebook drives: Seagate 7200.4 & Hitachi 5K500.B
5900rpm Seagate Hard Drives: Barracuda LP, Pipeline HD .2

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