I have an Ultrabook and a MacBook Air and my non-SSD traditional laptop is getting jealous. It told me that it wants to be more like them, faster booting up and able to launch applications more quickly. “Why can’t I be like those super slim laptops you are always using?” it always asks me. Obviously there is no way for it to compete from a weight or thin-ness perspective, and since there was already a 500 GB hard driving powering it, I could replace that drive with an expensive SSD (Solid State Drive). A 500 GB SSD would cost upwards of $500, which would be more than 1/2 the cost of the laptop. If I went with a smaller drive, I would have to ditch some of my data or applications on the drive – that doesn’t sound that much of an upgrade to me.
That is where the new Seagate Momentus XT SSHD comes into play. If you were reading carefully, you saw that this is NOT an SSD drive, there is an added “H” in there which stands for Hybrid. In my mind, hybrid means the best of both worlds. In the case of the Seagate drive, you get near-SSD performance, but with the capacity and price of a traditional hard drive. That is a hard bargain to beat.
Seagate kindly gave me a 750 GB Momentus XT SSHD to replace the stock 500GB Western Digital drive in my Acer Aspire Timeline X. A side note here, the Acer Timeline is a stellar laptop with an incredible battery life, so I was hoping that after this upgrade, it would be even more useful!
But I’m always a skeptic when it comes to a “flashy” name like hybrid SSD (sorry, I couldn’t resist that one). The advantages of SSD is that they are flash-based/solid state drives that don’t have any moving parts, unlike traditional hard drives. You can get traditional hard drives that spin at 5400 RPM or 7200 RPM and that have larger cache sizes (16 MB or 32 MB). The larger the cache, the better as the drive will store blocks of data into the cache and be able to send that data to the computer – the more data it can send, the faster is can move the data.
The Momentus XT is a 2.5″, 7200 RPM drive with 32 MB of cache. But it also has some technology inside that allows it to perform almost at the level of an SSD drive. But seeing is believing and I didn’t want to just take the marketing hype as gospel. So I set out to do some somewhat scientific analysis of the Seagate vs the stock WD drive.
I used three rudimentary tests for this analysis: timed boot up, Windows Experience and a benchmark software called Auslogics Benchtown. I did each of these 3 tests prior to removing the stock drive. Then, to ensure as close to an apples to apples comparison, I cloned the stock drive onto the Seagate Momentus using the Seagate DiskWizard (there are some other good Seagate Tools available) and then installed it and ran the same benchmarks.
I have compiled the test results in the video below as well as the installation process (which is probably one of the easiest installs that I have done to date). The video is also available directly on YouTube. I realize that the video is a bit long (sorry), but it does show the before & after boot up tests, the setup of the Momentus before installing, the installation and the post-installation benchmarks.
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There were 3 tests that I did in the video: timed boot up, Windows Experience measurement before & after and the Auslogics Benchtown benchmarks (before & after installation).
Here are the side by side test results for the Windows Experience tests. The stock Western Digital drive is on the left and the new Seagate Momentus XT drive results are on the right. As you can see, the overall score didn’t change (because it uses the lowest score as its overall score), but the disk transfer rate increased by 0.1 points.
In terms of boot up speed, you have to watch the video for that. But here is the summary of the results. Pre-installation (with the laptop plugged in), I tested from being completely off to when the login screen appears as taking 40 seconds. After installing the Seagate Momentus, that same process took 30 second – a savings of about 10 seconds. This is all being powered by Seagate’s FAST Factor technology which integrates hardware, firmware and high-speed NAND flash.
The other benchmarking that I did was using the Auslogics Benchtown. This does a full analysis of your systems and you can even share your results and compare against the community. A picture speaks a thousand words here so you can see the results below:
That is a pretty dramatic improvement if you ask me. And speaking about improvements, this Seagate drive has something called “Adaptive Memory” technology which means that over time, it “learns” which applications and data is the most commonly used and then saves that data to the flash memory for faster access and launching. It would, therefore, make sense if the hard drive’s performance seemed to improve over time. I will be watching for this as this is how the SSHD is designed to work – it monitors your usage patterns and simply improves performance over time.
The Seagate Momentus XT comes in two sizes, a 500 GB and a 750 GB. The 500 GB has a 3GB/second SATA interface and the 750 GB has a 6GB/second SATA interface. The 500 GB retails for $135 and the 750 GB goes for $189. You can pick each of these drives up on Amazon currently for $127.79 (500 GB) and for $179.99 (750 GB).
If you are looking for a way to give your older laptop a bit of a boost in performance, and you have already maxed out the amount of RAM that it can take, the next thing to consider is upgrading the hard drive to something larger and faster. Given the price point of the Seagate Momentus XT, especially in comparison to a “traditional” laptop hard drive, the Momentus is definitely the better choice. Depending on your laptop, the installation process is pretty easy. The hardest part is the migration or cloning of your hard drive but the supplied, free tools that you can download directly from Seagate for free make the cloning process a snap. Interestingly, the software is by Acronis who is known for their hard drive tools. If you have some older laptops around your house and want to give them to your kids, this is a great upgrade that you can do prior to letting them go crazy with the new speeds. I wouldn’t actually let my kids do the cloning or install process as it does take some time and thought into how you want to do the process (thus the lower score on the “Family Friendly” section). Honestly, it is a bit rare to find a product that improves over time so with the adaptive learning that the Momentus has built into its technology, this is a definite plus – it gets “faster” with usage!
Overall, and especially since I have used the upgraded laptop to do a variety of actions and have definitely noticed a much peppier launching and running of applications, I think the Seagate Momentus XT is a great upgrade. I would recommend getting the larger (750 GB) version because of its larger size but also because of its faster SATA throughput of 6GB/second.
Disclosure Text: I have a material connection because I received a gift or sample of a product for consideration in preparing to write this content. I was/am not expected to return this item or gift after my review period. All opinions within this article are my own. More information can be found in my About page as well as here.
HTD says: I wish that all laptop upgrades were this easy of a choice. With the Seagate Momentus SSHD, you can pretty much be assured that you will get a high-performance, near SSD boost to your hard drive’s performance.