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Momentus XT (ST750LX003) In Detail

Momentus XT 750 GB Review: A Second-Gen Hybrid Hard Drive
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Seagate's new drive family still spins at 7200 RPM. However, throughput is up. Maximum capacity increases from 500 GB to 750 GB, which is really pretty generous for a mobile platform. And, if you don't need that much capacity, there's still the first-gen 500 GB model limited to SATA 3Gb/s connectivity.

As someone with a keen interest in power consumption, it would have been interesting to consider a lower-capacity drive based on a single-platter design. However, this would chip away at the point of this product: lots of space and SSD-like performance from a single storage device.

Single-Level Cell NAND Flash

As with its predecessor, Seagate's new Momentus XT employs single-level cell (SLC) flash memory.

Of course, most of us are more familiar with multi-level cell (MLC) NAND, which is much more economical for building SSDs. However, we've seen specific products, like Intel's SSD 311, capitalize on the performance and reliability advantages of SLC flash at smaller capacities, too. The same strategy applies here: use a little bit of SLC memory to a greater effect.

Modern controllers do a great job of spreading writes out across NAND, a process referred to as wear leveling. But this is only possible when the drive's total capacity isn't consumed. When there aren't any blocks available to use for shuffling data around, though, MLC flash can wear out much faster. So, Seagate's decision to go with SLC for its cache is a smart call.

Apparently, the company saw fit to increase the cache's capacity, too. Whereas the previous model included 4 GB of SLC memory, this one sports 8 GB.

Firmware Upgrades: Boot Data-Pinning And Write Caching

The ST750LX003 sports two firmware-based improvements compared to its predecessor. First, the company says that it now permanently pins system files associated with the boot process into cache, speeding that up substantially. We can confirm that this works; Windows 7 starts up in the time we're used to seeing from popular many popular SSDs. Seagate claims that the algorithm behind this feature identifies and learns boot activity to effectively pin the right data into the flash-based cache. As a result, its effect should be felt on any operating system, including Mac OS X. A quick check with a Windows XP install confirms this. Because boot data is typically executed in the same order over and over (especially compared to user activity), the premise behind this technology makes sense.

Additionally, writes are now cached as well. Although the write speed of the flash Seagate is using is specified for 100 MB/s (reads are up to 170 MB/s), this could be helpful for speeding up random transfers, which hard drives really struggle with on their own. Unfortunately, we can't confirm the validity of this second addition. Testing a number of different benchmarks, multiple times, didn't reveal any notable performance gains.

Independence: Good For Upgrades?

The fact that the Momentus XT proffers its full feature set, regardless of operating system, means that you can install the drive into any older notebook or desktop PC with a SATA interface and not worry about compatibility. NCQ support is, of course, helpful. But the self-learning algorithms are contained within the drive and able to work with any host system. The only foreseeable concern is the Momentus XT 750 GB’s 4 KB sector size. Fortunately, Seagate employs 512-byte emulation.

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  • 24 Hide
    willard , February 9, 2012 12:50 PM
    hardcore_gamerso is it ok if the customer gets raped ?

    Their profits didn't come from raping the consumer. They came from liquidating their stocks rapidly as OEMs bought up all the drives they could anticipating that the supply would dry up rapidly, which it did. You make money when you sell huge amounts of your product that have been sitting in a warehouse.

    I'm getting really, really sick of all these entitled brats whining about how a disaster that killed more than a thousand people and displaced millions more from their homes made their hard drives more expensive for a little while.

    Get some perspective you twat.
  • 14 Hide
    phamhlam , February 9, 2012 3:45 AM
    This is what everyone with a laptop should do to get more speed. Remove your useless (in most case) DVD drive and put your HDD in their and put a SSD in your HDD bay.
  • 13 Hide
    Kurz , February 9, 2012 12:41 PM
    hardcore_gamerso is it ok if the customer gets raped ?


    Then vote with your money and dont buy.
Other Comments
  • 14 Hide
    phamhlam , February 9, 2012 3:45 AM
    This is what everyone with a laptop should do to get more speed. Remove your useless (in most case) DVD drive and put your HDD in their and put a SSD in your HDD bay.
  • 1 Hide
    bak0n , February 9, 2012 4:12 AM
    I've got raid 0 first gen momentus xt 500's in this box and I love it. Not to sure I can swallow the much higher price of the 750's however..
  • -2 Hide
    trandoanhung1991 , February 9, 2012 5:43 AM
    bak0nI've got raid 0 first gen momentus xt 500's in this box and I love it. Not to sure I can swallow the much higher price of the 750's however..


    Thailand flood. It'll be a while until prices drop...
  • 5 Hide
    vitornob , February 9, 2012 7:31 AM
    hardcore_gamerHDDs cost MORE than they did 2 years ago 4uck seagate - WD duopoly


    You know that the problem is the Thailand flood right?
  • 1 Hide
    zebzz , February 9, 2012 8:45 AM
    Alternatively if they put them in an eternal storage you could buy the drivers alot cheaper, managed to get 2TB Samsung drives for £59 inside an external device. I know I break the warranty on the device, but the 2TB SATA drive for £59 at the moment is excellent. Look out for USB external storage devices, they could be going cheap based on there USB performance compared to USB, but at the same time provide a nice alternative to getting storage.
  • -1 Hide
    hardcore_gamer , February 9, 2012 10:09 AM
    vitornobYou know that the problem is the Thailand flood right?


    They used this "problem" to make money. Look at their profit reports.
    http://www.techpowerup.com/159766/Seagate-Technology-Reports-Fiscal-Second-Quarter-2012-Financial-Results.html
  • -7 Hide
    AndrewMD , February 9, 2012 10:53 AM
    hardcore_gamerThey used this "problem" to make money. Look at their profit reports.http://www.techpowerup.com/159766/ [...] sults.html



    Nothing wrong with a company making money, it is how they stay in business, innovate, and keep people employed.
  • 2 Hide
    Reynod , February 9, 2012 11:23 AM
    I have a 500GB XT and it is excellent ... well worth it for the price.

    The 750GB XT model if it is priced around the same will sell like hotcakes.

    I can't afford a large SSD so these seem the right fit for me in terms of price and performance.

    They get my tick of approval.

    Exceptionally well written article from the German team at toms ... well done guys !!

    :) 
  • -2 Hide
    cknobman , February 9, 2012 12:10 PM
    Not Impressive and not for me.

    Other than boot and repeating the same thing over and over again this drive just is not fast enough.
    Since I dont use laptops as my primary computers and have a server and two workstations my laptops dont need 500+GB of storage on them either.

    Money is better spend on a ~120gb SSD for ~$130 that will give ten+ times the performance of this hybrid drive.
  • 13 Hide
    Kurz , February 9, 2012 12:41 PM
    hardcore_gamerso is it ok if the customer gets raped ?


    Then vote with your money and dont buy.
  • 2 Hide
    mikeynavy1976 , February 9, 2012 12:44 PM
    Good article and I agree with most of the points made. I have used both the 1st Gen 500 GB and am currently using the 750GB discussed in this article. Like browsers, people are now putting too much emphasis into benchmarks. This doesn't necessarily translate to real-world experience. I have a Lenovo W510 that is now about two years old. It came with a Hitachi 7200 rpm HDD. It wasn't slow, but it also wasn't fast. The laptop also only has one HDD bay. Apparently the Ultra Bay that you can purchase to stick a second drive in doesn't fit too well. Out of curiosity, I decided to try the 500 GB Momentus XT and was immediately and pleasantly surprised at the performance increase. I would've loved to have put an SSD instead, but to get a 500GB+ costs way too much. When the 750GB version came out, and I saw it on sale, I figured I'd get that and swap out my wife's 5400 rpm drive in her 4 year old laptop (she really only uses it for Internet) which was SLOW. The 750GB did show a little bit better performance over the 500GB but not much. Putting the 500GB in my wife's laptop, however, was like night and day. Boot times are incredibly faster, and overall system responsiveness is greatly improved. Yet, the Windows Index for Storage never changed. Therefore, I'm curious whether Tom's benchmarks can really be used to state how a user's experience will be with these drives. I would recommend this drive, however, as a relatively inexpensive upgrade in performance as well as storage space. Especially if you'd like to keep an older laptop running for a bit longer.
  • 24 Hide
    willard , February 9, 2012 12:50 PM
    hardcore_gamerso is it ok if the customer gets raped ?

    Their profits didn't come from raping the consumer. They came from liquidating their stocks rapidly as OEMs bought up all the drives they could anticipating that the supply would dry up rapidly, which it did. You make money when you sell huge amounts of your product that have been sitting in a warehouse.

    I'm getting really, really sick of all these entitled brats whining about how a disaster that killed more than a thousand people and displaced millions more from their homes made their hard drives more expensive for a little while.

    Get some perspective you twat.
  • -4 Hide
    warezme , February 9, 2012 12:51 PM
    I totally lost faith in Seagate drives. I won't touch any of them and never recommend them to anyone.
  • 4 Hide
    bucknutty , February 9, 2012 12:53 PM
    Neat idea but why such a small SS cache?
  • -6 Hide
    Anonymous , February 9, 2012 1:03 PM
    My 500GB died without notice. One minute it was working the next minute it was dead. The hard drive didn't even show up in the BIOS anymore. It was like it never existed. I removed it and put it back in and nothing. I tried many utilities on a CD that I booted up and none of them recognized that a hard drive existed. In my book that means the drive is dead.
    I'm not sure if I have any recourse as I am the second owner of this computer.
    I haven't yet gone to their site and see if the drive is under warranty.
    Make sure if you own one you back up daily. Perhaps because of the flash involved there are no warning signs of a drive failing. Usually there are little noises or something that gives you a clue.
    Good Luck.
  • 8 Hide
    onanonanon , February 9, 2012 1:10 PM
    jack349My 500GB died without notice ..... Make sure if you own one you back up daily.


    Seriously? Back up a 500GB drive daily? Other than an IT admin, who the hell would back up a 500GB disk daily?
  • 0 Hide
    buzznut , February 9, 2012 1:25 PM
    I would take a wait and see approach. The first gen hybrid drives were plagued with reliability problems. These seem like good tech, but I'm not buying one right away.
  • 2 Hide
    SinisterSalad , February 9, 2012 1:49 PM
    I've got the 1st gen. It was great until I got BF3, now the 4GB cache just isn't enough to keep up if I'm playing on a server that's switching maps all the time. If it stays on the same map, that thing flies! Great bang for the buck for most of us that do a lot of the same things daily.
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