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

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The Good The Toshiba SSHD significantly reduces the boot time of its host computer and enables the system to launch applications much faster, when compared with a regular hard drive.

The Bad With only 8GB NAND flash memory and the spinning speed of just 5,400rpm, the drive isn't ideal for transferring a large amount of data. The drive is also expensive.

The Bottom Line If you can afford the comparatively high price, the new drive is a great replacement for that old hard drive inside your aging computer.

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6.9 Overall
  • Setup 8
  • Features 6
  • Performance 7
  • Support 7

Editors' note: On August 22, Toshiba corrected the MSRP for the drive; it is much higher than originally reported, and the review has been adjusted accordingly, including the rating.

The Toshiba Solid-State Hybrid Drive (SSHD) is the answer to the Seagate SSHD that came out five months ago. The new drive is almost the same as its Seagate counterpart in terms of configuration but offers better performance, and costs significantly more.

In my testing, it proved to be a good alternative to solid-state drives (SSD) by offering somewhat similar performance -- especially in terms of boot time.

If you're looking to speed up your HDD-based computer's performance without spending too much, the new Toshiba SSHD is an decent upgrade. Its suggested retail cost of $199 for 1TB (or $159 for $500) is pricey for what it has to offer, however, and also means you can get a better deal going with the Seagate SSHD instead.

The Toshiba SSHD comes in two levels of thickness 7mm (320GB and 500GB), and 9.5mm (750GB and 1TB).
The Toshiba SSHD comes in two levels of thickness 7mm (320GB and 500GB), and 9.5mm (750GB and 1TB). Dong Ngo/CNET

Design and features
Seagate separates its laptop SSHDs into two categories, the Laptop Thin SSHD (7mm) and the Laptop SSHD (9.5mm); each capacity gets a different model number. The new drive is also available in two thicknesses with the 320GB (model MQ01ABF032H) and 500GB (MQ01ABF050H) capacities being just 7mm thick, and the 750GB (MQ01ABD075H) and 1TB (MQ01ABD100H) capacities being 9.5mm thick. The drive will work in all standard laptops and desktops, with its lower capacities, and it will also fit certain ultrabooks.

Drive type Laptop internal drive
Connector options SATA 3 (6Gbps), SATA 2, SATA
Available capacities 320GB, 500GB, 750GB, 1TB
Product dimensions 7mm (320GB and 500GB), 9.5mm (750GB, 1TB), 2.5-inch standard
Capacity of test unit 500GB, 1TB
SSD storage 8GB
Warranty Three-year, limited
OSes supported Windows, Mac, Linux

The difference in thickness doesn't affect the drive's specifications or performance, however. All of the capacities come with 8GB of NAND flash memory (the type of fast storage used in regular SSDs), boast 32MB of cache memory, and spin at 5,400rpm. The drive supports the latest SATA 3 (6Gbps) standard but is backward compatible with previous revisions of SATA.

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.