Seagate Laptop Thin SSHD review: Solid alternative to laptop hard drives

Seagate says that the drive has algorithms that minimize the writing to the flash memory part and when used for its main purpose, as a main drive of a laptop or low-profile desktop, the SSHD's NAND flash memory part will outlast the drive's moving parts. This, of course, remains to be seen.

If you're wondering why the drive's capacity is not 508GB but just 500GB, that's because the 8GB of flash memory is not extra storage. Instead, it's a redundant amount. In other words, the data written on the 8GB of NAND flash memory is also stored on another 8GB of the drive's platter-based storage. This also means that if the NAND flash memory does become unreliable, the drive will still work, but it will be just a regular 5,400rpm hard drive.

The Seagate Laptop Thin SSHD looks and feels like a regular, low-profile hard drive. It supports the latest SATA 3 (6Gbps) interface but works with any SATA versions.

Cost per gigabyte
Normally, I don't calculate a hard drive's cost per gigabyte, but since this is an SSHD, which rivals an SSD to some extent, it only makes sense to see how the drive's cost per gigabyte stacks up to that of SSDs. And it stacks up really well. At the current price of $86 for 500GB, the drive costs just 16 cents per gigabyte. Most SSDs cost close to $1 per gigabyte. It's even cheaper than the Momentus XT 750GB, which currently costs about $155. Compared with regular laptop hard drives of the same capacity, however, the SSHD is about 25 percent more expensive.

Performance

I tested the Laptop Thin SSHD against both SSDs and the Momentus XT 750GB hard drive, and it offered mixed results.

On one hand, it did well in boot time, taking just 15 seconds for the test machine to boot up, compared with 10 seconds for most SSDs and 20 seconds for the second-generation Momentus XT. The same machine generally takes about 50 seconds to boot when it runs on a very fast regular hard drive. Note that the boot time improvement only shows starting at the second boot. Right after the system was moved to the SSHD, the first boot took about 45 seconds.

The new drive also showed improvement in overall performance and helped applications launch noticeably quicker, compared with a regular hard drive. Compared with SSDs, however, it was still appreciably slower.

On the other hand, the Laptop Thin SSHD was terrible at data transferral. When used as a secondary drive in the system, it offered just about 39MBps for write speed. Its read speed was better, at around 90MBps. When used as the computer's main drive, (which it's designed for) and performing both writing and reading at the same time, it scored just about 17MBps. In other words, in terms of data transferring (or consequential performance), the new SSHD is about the slowest drive I've seen in a long time. In fact, it's significantly slower than its predecessors. This is probably because it spins at only 5,400rpm, instead of 7,200rpm.

Boot/shutdown scores (in seconds)
(Shorter bars indicate better performance)
Shutdown  
Boot Time  
Plextor M5 Pro Xtreme
4.81 
10 
Samsung 840 Pro
5.21 
10 
Corsair Neutron GTX
5.28 
10 
Transcend SSD720
5 
11 
Samsung 840 series
6.09 
11 
Plextor M5 Pro
6.21 
11.1 
SanDisk Ultra Plus
5.4 
11.2 
OCZ Vector
4.95 
13 
Seagate Laptop Thin SSHD
7 
15 

Application performance (in seconds)
(Shorter bars indicate better performance)
OCZ Vector
170 
Seagate Laptop Thin SSHD
221 

Conclusion
For those looking for a low-cost way to improve their hard-drive-based computer's boot time and overall performance for general computing needs, the new Seagate Laptop Thin SSHD makes a good buy.

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Quick Specifications See All

  • Form Factor 2.5"
  • Hard Drive Type internal hard drive
  • Capacity 500 GB
  • Average Seek Time 12 ms
  • Spindle Speed 5400 rpm
  • Buffer Size 64 MB
About The Author

CNET editor Dong Ngo has been involved with technology since 2000, starting with testing gadgets and writing code for CNET Labs' benchmarks. He now manages CNET San Francisco Labs, reviews networking and storage products, and also writes about other topics from online security to new gadgets and how technology impacts the life of people around the world.