Seagate Momentus XT ST750LX003 Hybrid 750GB Review

ccokeman - 2011-11-15 21:29:05 in Storage / Hard Drives
Category: Storage / Hard Drives
Reviewed by: ccokeman   
Reviewed on: November 29, 2011
Price: $245


Over the past couple of years the Solid State Hard Drive has been chipping away at the market traditionally dominated by mechanical platter equipped hard disk drives. The performance of Solid State Drives for the most part has far out paced that of mechanical drives with spindle speeds of up to 10,000RPM. The stellar performance curve delivered by the Solid State Drive is not without its own liabilities in terms of longevity, cost and capacity. Seagate has been working to overcome the liabilities of the mechanical drive and have delivered several generations of hybrid drives that incorporate a small amount of robust SLC NAND coupled with a larger capacity mechanical drive. By using the NAND as a means to cache frequently used programs the access time to the most frequently used programs are significantly reduced without the cost of a full on Solid State drive. Seagate's newest Momentus XT Hybrid 750GB drive is the next generation of this technology that is improved with new FAST (Flash Assisted Storage) algorithms to generate Solid State drive performance for an improved user experience . Improvements include a bump in the capacity by 50%, doubling of the data connection speed, a 100% increase in the SLC NAND and improved system responsiveness. Cost for the 750GB ST750LX003 Hybrid drive is set at $245.

Closer Look:

Externally the Seagate Momentus XT Hybrid 750GB drive looks much like any standard 2.5 inch form factor mechanical hard drive from any manufacturer. Internally is where the differences and FAST technologies from Seagate are put to work. The Momentus 750GB ST750LX003 Hybrid drive as implied is 750GB in capacity, has a 7300RPM spindle speed, 32MB of cache, four heads, two platters and 8GB of SLC NAND flash memory. The interface has moved from a a SATA 3Gb/s to 6Gb/s NCQ interface for this third generation drive.












Hosting an improved feature set across the board the Momentus XT 750GB Hybrid drive looks to offer a significant boost in system responsiveness and SSD like performance. The key is how it will perform. Admittedly synthetic benchmarks will not show off the drive to its full potential, as in most, it will perform just like a standard 7200RPM drive.


Model Number
NAND Type/Size
Special Performance Features
FAST Factor™ Flash Management
FAST Factor Boot
FAST Factor Write
Adaptive Memory™ Technology
Spindle Speed (RPM)
Cache, Multisegmented (MB)
SATA Transfer Rates Supported (Gb/s)
Seek Average, Read (ms)
Seek Average, Write (ms)
Heads/Disks 4/2 4/2
Bytes per Sector 4096 512
Reliability/Data Integrity
Head-Rest Method
QuietStep Ramp Load
Load/Unload Cycles
Nonrecoverable Read Errors per Bits Read
1 per 10E14
Power Management
Power (W) Seek
Power (W) Idle
Temperature (°C)
Operating 0 to 60
Nonoperating −40 to 70
Shock (Gs)
Operating: 2ms 350
Nonoperating: 1ms 1000
Acoustics (bels—sound power)
Idle, Typical 2.3
Seek, Typical 2.6
Height (in/mm)
 0.370/9.5 0
Width (in/mm)
Depth (in/mm)
951/100.35 3
Weight (lb/g)
 0.253/115 0
Carton Unit Quantity
Cartons per Pallet
Cartons per Layer
Height (in/mm)
0.370/9.5 0




All information courtesy of Seagate Technology


Testing of hard drives can be done in several different ways. One method involves leaving the drive bare and connecting it as a secondary drive in an existing system. By simultaneously cleaning the drive after each benchmark run-through, this allows you to see its theoretical peaks in performance. However, the results would only represent a best case scenario – one that you may never see unless operating a bare drive. The second method, which OverclockersClub employs, involves loading the operating system and benchmarking suite onto the test drive itself. This would give performance results that emulate real-world usage more closely. Testing will be completed with the P67-based system listed below, alongside a fresh install of Windows 7 Professional 64-bit that is updated to SP1 and fully patched as of the date of testing. The latest Intel Rapid Storage technology drivers and software have also been installed. All tests are conducted with the drive connected to a native SATA III 6Gb/s port on the motherboard, in an effort to eliminate any possible bottlenecks with performance.

Testing Setup:


Comparison Drives:


  1. HD Tune 4.60 Pro
  2. HD Tach
  3. SiSoft Sandra 2012
  4. Crystal Disk Mark
  5. ATTO Disk Benchmark
  6. AS SSD
  7. I/O Meter
  8. PCMark Vantage
  9. Windows Startup / Shutdown


HD Tune 4.60 Pro measures disk performance to make comparisons between drives or disk controllers. In the 4.60 Pro version, the user can measure not only drive performance as a whole, but run more precise file and random access benchmarks as well.



















File Benchmark:



Random Access Benchmark:



The Momentus XT delivers an incredible burst rate right in line with some of the Solid State drives in the comparison field but quickly drops into line in the file bench and random read tests. CPU usage is lower than most of the drives in the testing dropping that overhead for the system.


HD Tach v3.0.4.0: HD Tach is another hard drive benchmark utility, much like HD Tune. This benchmark measures the average read speed, random access time, and CPU utilization during operation.

















SiSoft Sandra 2011: SiSoft Sandra is a diagnostic utility and synthetic benchmarking program. It allows you to view your hardware at a higher level to be more helpful.



In the HD Tach testing the Momentus Xt delivers great burst speeds. In the Sandra testing the Access time shrinks not quite to pure solid state drive levels but is an improvement over the results from a full size 7200 RPM Barracuda XT.


Crystal Disk Mark 3.0: Crystal Disk Mark is a hard drive benchmark designed to measure the read and write speeds of drives by using 4k blocks, 512k blocks, and sequential data. For the test, we chose the 1000MB option.


















In the Sequential Read and Write tests the Momentus XT is faster than the Barracuda XT. Even ran multiple times the caching ability of the drive keeps it at a performance level below a pure SSD.


Atto Disk Benchmark v2.47: Atto Disk Benchmark is another aged, but good hard drive benchmark utility designed to test read and write speeds for different file sizes.


















This test shows the maximum throughput of a drive. The Momentus XT delivers what it is capable of. This kind of test does not show off the real abilities of the Momentus Xt.


AS SSD v1.1.3466.29641: AS SSD is a benchmark specifically designed to test the speed of solid state drives. However, it also works for traditional hard drives. It is designed to measure the read and write speeds, as well as access times for set block sizes. It also assigns a score to the read, write, and overall performance of the drive.


















Through this test the Momentus XT almost mirrors the performance level of the Barracuda XT.


IOMeter is an I/O subsystem measurement and characterization tool for single and clustered systems. It was originally developed by the Intel Corporation and announced at the Intel Developers Forum (IDF) on February 17, 1998. Since then, it has seen widespread use within the industry.


















In this test the Momentus XT again is comparable to the Barracuda XT in performance. CPU usage is very low at less than 1% in both the read and write tests.


PCMark Vantage: With this benchmark, I will be running the hard drive test suite. The measurement for the hard drive suite will be the total score, then the scoring for each test will be broken down. There are a total of eight hard drive tests within PCMark Vantage and all eight will be run to gauge the performance of each drive tested.




















This is one test where the benefits of the Momentus XT are clearly visible and are easy to show. In comparison to the Barracuda XT the performance numbers on the Momentus continue to scale up as the drive learns what should be held in the NAND flash. This is in essence how the drive improves performance and delivers improved performance closer to that of an SSD than that of a mechanical drive.

Below is the learning curve that the Momentus XT goes through and is illustrated in the hard drive scores and how they continue to scale upwards from run to run. The first run gives a result that is more in line with what you would expect for a mechanical drive in the PCMark Vantage hard drive test. With each successive run the Momentus XT scoring increases. The first to second run learning curve shows a 100+% bump in scoring. Pretty impressive to say the least.


In the world of computing, everyone likes a computer that can start up and shut down quickly. The ability to boot into your system as fast as possible allows you to start the tasks you set out to do that much quicker. Not to mention that the older you get, the greater the chance you'll forget what you wanted to use the computer for in the first place! The sweet spot is about 30 seconds or less. It is possible with conventional hard drives, though very difficult to attain this "golden" 30-second time. This should be easier with the speed of an SSD, but the only way to tell is to test it out. To run the startup test, I used a stopwatch to calculate the number of seconds it took from pressing the power button on the case, to having a fully-functioning desktop. For the shutdown test, I began timing from the click of the shutdown button in the start menu, and stopped when the system power was off.
















This test illustrates the capabilities of the Seagate Momentus XT and its FAST technology in a way that is repeatable. Rather than having to learn what files are needed through continued boot cycles the technologies and algorithms used by Seagate allow the OS boot files to be captured and stored on the NAND flash during the OS install. This helps to bring the boot performance in line with that of an SSD from boot one. As seen by the boot up results the Momentus XT is within a couple seconds of most of the Solid State Drives tested.


The benefits of the Seagate Momentus XT 750GB drive are not really ones that are instantly obvious in synthetic benchmarks. That being said the drive performance is customized by each user and how the computer is used and by the applications that are most commonly used. This means each and every user will end up with a drive that opens up and accesses application based on their own unique usage history. Games, Productivity Suites, Photoshop,iTunes and more all will open faster as the Adaptive Memory algorithms learn the usage history. Overall it is not as fast as an SSD in many ways but in those instances that do matter such as boot times and application loading the Seagate drive is more than up to the task of delivering an improvement in the "feel" and user experience. We all want a computing experience where we do not have an extended wait for programs to open. Chopping seconds off this time frame is a tangible benefit that improves the overall user experience. I think my little HP Mini 311 netbook has seen more drive partners than it cares to count in the drive(pun intended) to see what the best balance between performance and battery life will be with a long string of Solid State drives. The biggest improvement I have made to date on this test bed is to install a solid state drive as it reduced my boot times to mere seconds and increased battery life. Both tangible benefits. The difficult thing for this setup is that I have to take a hit on the drive capacity to get this benefit. Sure you can get increased Solid State drive capacities but the costs quickly exceed the cost of the platform by the time 240GB is reached. The Momentus XT fixes the capacity issue without the compromise of going back to standard HDD performance levels all for a cost per GB that is much more palatable. A 240GB Sandforce SF-22XX equipped drive will set you back close to if not over $500 while the Momentus XT has a more modest $245 price point.

The 750GB Momentus XT Hybrid drive sees a 100% increase in the amount of SLC NAND used when compared to the 500GB gen 2 drive released last year. The capacity has increase by 50%, the interface has changed to a SATA 6Gb/s and comes with new "FAST" factors. All this is great but what happens when the NAND flash fails? Worst case scenario is that the drive acts just like a 7200 RPM mechanical drive. There is no data loss if the NAND fails as the data is written in parallel to both the platters and to the NAND giving some much needed redundancy without a huge performance overhead cost. All the fancy buzz words and technology boil down to an improvement in user experience without the cost, reliability and capacity concerns of an SSD. I cannot see where this drive from Seagate has any real down sides as you get the snappy performance of an SSD with the capacity of a traditional mechanical drive.