Toshiba SSHD review: Pricey, but still a good alternative to SSD

The idea of an SSHD is simple: the fast SSD part of the drive is designed to host frequently accessed (or hot) data, such as part of the operating system and certain applications; the spinning part will host less-active data. So when it's used as the main storage device that hosts the operating system -- which is the main purpose of the drive -- it will offer similar boot times and application performance as that of an SSD. The best part is that it still costs about the same as a regular hard drive of the same capacity.

And this is exactly what makes the Toshiba SSHD great. Similar to its Seagate counterpart, it also comes with a built-in algorithm that automatically swaps data between the SSD part and the spinning part, depending on how active the data gets. This happens independently from the operating system, so there's no special software or driver that you need to install.

Performance
The Toshiba SSHD, like all SSHDs, is more of a regular hard drive than an SSD. This is because it has just 8GB of solid-state storage on it and therefore you can't expect a full SSD experience. But for the money, you'll be pleasantly surprised how much faster it makes your computer boot up, resume from sleep, and launch general applications.

In my testing, the test computer took about three restarts before I could see a significant boot time improvement, reducing from more than a minutes to just about 20 seconds. Most applications, such as Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and Web browsers also took less time to launch.

Boot/shutdown scores (in seconds)
(Shorter bars indicate better performance)
Shutdown time  
Boot time  
Seagate 600 SSD
5 
10 
Toshiba SSHD
7 
19 

What you won't see improved, however, is the copy times, especially when you move a large amount of data. This is because for sequential performance, the drive is about as fast as a regular 5,400rpm hard drive. It was noticeably faster, though, than its Seagate counterpart, scoring 61MBps for the write test, 97MBps for read rest and 21MBps for reading and writing at the same time. The Seagate SSHD scored just 39MBps, 80BMps, and 15MBps in the tests, respectively.

Data transfer scores (in MBps)
(Longer bars indicate better performance)
As secondary Drive (read only)  
As secondary drive (write only)  
As OS drive (read and write)  
Seagate 600 SSD
275.21 
259.01 
136.78 
Toshiba SSHD
96.68 
60.52 
21.22 
Seagate Laptop SSHD
79.65 
39.4 
15.35 

Conclusion
For a drive that spins at just 5,400rpm, the Toshiba SSHD offers a great experience compared with even the fastest consumer-grade internal hard drives. While it can't compete with SSDs, it's easily the second best in terms of boot time and application performance when used as the main storage that hosts the operating system. Unfortunately, at the current price, which is much more expensive than the Seagate counterpart, it isn't really the best alternative to SSD in terms of cost. For that, a significant reduction in pricing is a must.

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Where to Buy See All

Toshiba SSHD (320GB, 7mm)

Part Number: MQ01ABF032H
Low Price: $45.50 See all prices

Quick Specifications See All

  • Form Factor 2.5"
  • Hard Drive Type internal hard drive
  • Capacity 320 GB
  • Average Seek Time 12 ms
  • Spindle Speed 5400 rpm
  • Buffer Size 32 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.