Final Words

I suppose it's fitting that Seagate didn't change the name of the Momentus XT in its second generation. Although the new drive is larger, faster and better in almost every way than its predecessor, it's still very much an evolution of the original. If you were hoping for a significantly larger cache, the ability to cache writes and a more SSD-like experience, the new Momentus XT is going to feel like a letdown.

If you are looking at the Momentus XT through HDD-colored glasses however, the new one is even more impressive than its predecessor. With an 8GB cache this time around there's more room for data to remain in NAND, which definitely improves the overall experience. In many cases the Momentus XT continues to be the fastest client focused mechanical hard drive on the market. If you only have room for a single drive in your notebook and you can't make do with an SSD, the Momentus XT is the next best thing. As I mentioned last time around, OEMs unwilling or unable to include an SSD in their default configuration should not hesitate to standardize on the Momentus XT as the hard drive of choice. I'd definitely take this drive over pretty much any hard drive. When it gains write caching support next year I do believe the drive will get even better, although by caching both reads and writes I am worried that 8GB of NAND will begin to look even smaller than it already is. I am unhappy with the price increase. Despite the larger capacity, the 750GB Momentus XT should've really topped out at $199 and not seen a price increase to $245.

As many have pointed out, Seagate didn't have the best track record with the original Momentus XT when it came to reliability and compatibility. Although I haven't had any issues with the Momentus XT (old or new) in my testbeds, given the price of the new drive you may want to wait to ensure things are better this time around before pulling the trigger.

If you can manage it, I'd still recommend an SSD above the Momentus XT. For desktop users the standalone SSD + large HDD array for media storage still makes the most sense. Prices of SSDs are finally low enough where the value argument becomes a difficult one to make for the Momentus XT if you've got more than one drive bay. Where an SSD still may not make sense is in a notebook where you can only have a single drive and need local storage. In this situation, the Momentus XT is again better than the traditional hard drive alternative.

Longer term it's unclear to me whether hybrid drives like the Momentus XT will fill the gap left by SSDs or if software based caching technologies combined with NAND on motherboards will be the preferred route.

I still want to see Seagate be more aggressive with its hybrid drive roadmap. Waiting over a year between Momentus XT releases isn't going to cut it going forward if this technology is going to have a chance. Here's hoping the new Barracuda XT and a more revolutionary Momentus XT won't take as long to make it out.

Power Consumption and Drive Behavior
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  • Anand Lal Shimpi - Tuesday, December 13, 2011 - link

    According to Seagate the drive is still 9.5mm thick, just like the non-caching Momentus drive. I took a pair of calipers to the drive as well as a regular Momentus and both came up at just under 9.5mm (although my calipers aren't the super accurate variety, there could be some play in the numbers there). Do you have a reference to the 9.7mm figure?

    Still digging into FAST boot. If it works the way I think it works, it should be able to cache boot data from multiple OSes. Will find out for sure soon...

    Take care,
    Anand
    Reply
  • Anand Lal Shimpi - Thursday, December 15, 2011 - link

    Seagate provided a response to your second question:

    "The Momentus XT will learn multiple boot activities and retain the boot information for them in the boot partition. There should be no problem optimizing 2 or 3 different boot scenarios, but more than that may degrade the performance of the last first boot activity learned."

    It's my understanding that it's not too hard to determine when a system is booting, the access pattern is fairly unique. The boot optimization simply looks for that pattern and has a small amount of NAND set aside for data that fits that pattern. Multiple OSes should trigger the optimization, but once you get beyond a certain threshold you do risk evicting useful data from the cache.

    Take care,
    Anand
    Reply
  • b_flat - Tuesday, December 13, 2011 - link

    No mention of the reliability?

    Head to the Seagate Forums or visit Amazon.com to see a list of continual problems with this drive
    Reply
  • b_flat - Tuesday, December 13, 2011 - link

    Amazon.com
    http://www.amazon.com/Seagate-Momentus-Solid-Hybri...

    Seagate Forums
    http://forums.seagate.com/t5/Momentus-XT-Momentus-...
    Reply
  • Anand Lal Shimpi - Tuesday, December 13, 2011 - link

    I mentioned the reliability issues in the video but I've added them to the conclusion as well. For what it's worth, both the old and the new Momentus XT have done well in my testbeds but as we've seen with SSDs in the past, that doesn't mean much.

    Take care,
    Anand
    Reply
  • Jonijc - Tuesday, December 13, 2011 - link

    Hmmm....

    I only 5 star reviews on the new one: http://www.amazon.com/Seagate-Momentus-7200RPM-Hyb...

    And 4 stars on the 500GB older one.
    http://www.amazon.com/Seagate-Momentus-Solid-Hybri...

    j
    Reply
  • kmmatney - Tuesday, December 13, 2011 - link

    I've had a 500GB XT drive for about a year - working great in a desktop computer. The $99 price seems like a steal now. Reply
  • applestooranges - Tuesday, December 13, 2011 - link

    C'mon, the first Seagate Hybrid (released over a year ago?) was pretty much a joke, barely better than a normal 7200 rpm HDD. Anybody/everybody in the know could see this, but it somehow got praise from certain reviewers. Now, they release basically the same "non-innovative" and "non-effective" design, and it somehow gets a passing grade?
    50% better than nothing is still nothing.
    I could spend half this much on an OCZ cache drive + a 1 TB HDD, and get twice (or 3x) the performance and more capacity.
    these HDD guys just don't get it... how many years will it take them...
    Reply
  • Anand Lal Shimpi - Tuesday, December 13, 2011 - link

    I wouldn't say it's barely better than a normal 7200RPM hard drive, our numbers alone prove that's the case. As I mentioned in the conclusion however, my preference is still for an SSD + hard drive where possible. The Momentus XT really addresses the niche where you can only have one 2.5" drive and you need more capacity than an SSD can offer for whatever reason. In that case it does a decent enough job, but even then my preference would be for an internal SSD + external mass storage.

    Take care,
    Anand
    Reply
  • JNo - Tuesday, December 13, 2011 - link

    Hi,

    don't often comment but really want to mention some possibilities that many seem to lack awareness of.

    Firstly, I've read no mention, let alone review, of OCZ's Synapse Cache SSD on anandtech or of the NVELO dataplex software that drives it. It allows an entire SSD to cache an HDD but seems better than Intel SRT to me as faster and fewer limitations (no need for Z68 mobo, no SSD size limits). You can almost get a 3TB HDD to bench close to SSD speeds. I think they're looking to release the software one day too so you won't even need the proprietary OCZ SSD. Reviews:

    http://www.storagereview.com/ocz_synapse_cache_ssd...
    http://www.storagereview.com/nvelo_drives_storage_...

    Secondly, you can get cheap optical drive bay HDD adaptor for laptops nowadays (ebay) so you can slot a second SSD/HDD where the optical was. This allows classic boot SSD + data HDD combo in laptops without mSATA. In fact it's a reason for me to look for lappies *with* an optical drive even though I'd otherwise prefer not to have one. Obviously this solution won't work for ultrabooks etc but still much more preferable to the Seagate Momentus for me.
    Reply

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