The Seagate Momentus XT (second generation) is a worthy upgrade to the original Momentus XT that was released more than a year ago. The new drive now comes with twice the amount of flash memory (also known as solid-state storage) and offers 50 percent more storage space.
Performance-wise, the new hybrid drive is almost identical to most SSDs in terms of boot, wake-up time, and application loading. When it comes to copying a large amount of data from one place to another, however, it's just about average among all hard drives. However, the drive isn't designed for data transferring, it's mostly designed to be used as the main drive of a computer that hosts the operating system.
At the suggested price of $250 for 750GB, the new Momentus XT offers an excellent alternative to SSDs.
Design and features
|Drive type||Internal drive|
|Connector options||SATA 3 (6Gbps), SATA 2, SATA|
|Product dimensions||9mm thick, 2.5-inch standard|
|Capacity of test unit||750GB|
|OSes supported||Windows, Mac, Linux|
The new Momentus XT looks exactly the same as the previous version, which is basically like any other standard SATA 2.5-inch internal hard drive. The drive is the standard 9mm thick, so it should fit all storage slots that use 2.5-inch hard drives. In short, just from its looks, nobody can say that it's not a regular hard drive.
On the inside, however, the drive is anything but regular. This is a drive that comes with 8GB of high-speed single-cell flash memory--the type of flash memory used in enterprise-grade SSDs--on top of a regular platter-based storage. (The original Momentus XT comes with only 4GB of flash memory). The resulting combination of the two offers 750GB of hybrid storage and works based on Seagate's Flash Assisted Storage Technology, or FAST. But you don't have to worry about how hybrid storage works; the drive can be used just like any hard drive.
Similar to the previous model, the new Momentus XT also features an embedded algorithm called adaptive memory technology that automatically and independently from the operating system moves frequently used information into the flash memory for faster access. The fact that it now comes with twice the amount of flash means that more data can be moved to this area, making the drive work even more similarly to an SSD.
Unlike that original drive that supports SATA 2 (3Gbps), the new drive now supports SATA 3, which is twice as fast. While its 8GB of flash memory doesn't have any moving parts, the drive's platter-based storage works like that of any other hard drives and spins at 7,200 rpm, which is the spinning speed of high-speed laptop hard drives. This also means that, the drive, similar to any hard drives, is more susceptible to shocks and vibrations than SSDs. It also uses more power and generates more heat than SSDs.
Cost per gigabyte
With a suggested price of $250 for 750GB, the second-gen Momentus XT costs about 33 cents per gigabyte, about 3 cents per gig more expensive than the original Momentus XT. Compared to SSDs, which cost from $1.10 to up to some $3 per gig, it's still much more affordable. Also note that it's currently very hard to find an SSD that's 750GB or larger, even if you can afford it.
Note that the prices shown here are as of the time of this review. Prices of storage devices fluctuate a great deal and tend to get lower over time.
According to Seagate, the Momentus XT's adaptive memory takes time to show improvement in performance, and that was true in my testing.
When I first booted the computer with the new drive, it didn't seem much different from a regular hard drive. However, starting with the second time, the boot time reduced significantly. By the third boot, the drive's boot time was exactly the same as when the test computer used an SSD as its main drive.