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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  • truthbeacon - Tuesday, December 13, 2011 - link

    I am stumped. If you are comparing this Hybrid HDD to HDDs and SSDs, why didn't you throw 'high-performance' drives in the test metric, such as a Scorpio Black or Velociraptor? Reply
  • Anand Lal Shimpi - Tuesday, December 13, 2011 - link

    The regular Momentus 750GB is a 7200RPM 2.5-inch drive, that covers the high performance 2.5" drive segment. My VR200M has unfortunately died since the original review, but I threw the 3.5" Barracuda XT as a representative from the 3.5" high performance category.

    Note that in the areas where the Momentus XT really shines, even the VR200M wouldn't be enough to close the gap.

    Take care,
    Anand
    Reply
  • deputc26 - Tuesday, December 13, 2011 - link

    "Drive Power Consumption - Sequential Write"

    both are identical on page 6

    http://www.anandtech.com/show/5160/seagate-2nd-gen...
    Reply
  • Anand Lal Shimpi - Tuesday, December 13, 2011 - link

    Fixed! Thanks! Reply
  • dagamer34 - Tuesday, December 13, 2011 - link

    I feel like the true enthusiasts have poo pooed solutions like this because they've moved to pure SSD-based systems in the 2.5" firm factor and then have huge 2-3TB HDD arrays for media storage. While certainly there will be plenty of hard drives sold with a 2.5" slot, I just get the feeling that because of laptops like the MacBook Air, Intel's ultrabook initiative, and the general crappy pricing of mechanical HDDs right now, this technology is a bit too little, too late and may never really go mainstream. Certainly improvements can be made to get near SSD levels of performance while having a large amount of storage, but the 5-10year future is clearly SSD only, and it must be troubling for Seagate to be aware of that eventual possibility. Reply
  • Jedi2155 - Tuesday, December 13, 2011 - link

    I currently have a 256 GB SSD on my main home system, and I'm debating swapping that out for this due to the space limitations on my SSD. All those high end games take up a whopping amount of space as does Steam.

    It would be better to have an SSD on my work machine or laptop than my home desktop at this rate. This seems like a good downgrade/replacement. I wonder if prices might drop anytime soon to under $200. I don't really feel that its worth $250 although the market is still really bad...
    Reply
  • A5 - Tuesday, December 13, 2011 - link

    The solution to that is to use an app like Steam Mover to store the games you aren't playing at the moment on your mechanical disks instead of the SSD. No reason to have more than 1-2 games on your SSD at a given time. Reply
  • Jedi2155 - Wednesday, December 14, 2011 - link

    I play at random between 3-10 games depending on the situation as my friends are varied which as caused me to just install it all on the main SSD. I have a separate HDD for other games. I will look into Steam Mover as I've been meaning to do something of the sort but Symbolic Linking is too much work for the games I have installed and having to do it for each individual game. Reply
  • Ammaross - Wednesday, December 14, 2011 - link

    Get an Z-series Intel chipset and use the drive caching capabilities of it. Then you can have a 60GB MLC (or SLC since you're willing to pay for a 256GB SSD) as a disk cache to some high-performance WD Black 2TB spinner. Basically it's a build-it-yourself Momentus drive. Reply
  • ltcommanderdata - Tuesday, December 13, 2011 - link

    As you mentioned, the ideal use-case for hybrid drives is for notebooks where you want to combine better speed with large capacity. However, it should be noted that the Momentus XT is 9.7mm thick, just over the standard 9.5mm of most 2.5" drives, which could makes it's use problematic on notebooks with little space tolerance.

    On another note, one of Seagate marketing features is FAST Factor Boot, which is supposed to be a dedicated partition on the NAND for caching OS boot files so they can't be evicted by other file activity over time. Would you know how well this dedicated OS cache works for dual boot systems? Can if figure out your primary OS and only cache that, expand the partition to accommodate both OS or do the two OSs thrash each other?
    Reply

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