The Seagate Desktop SSHD 2 TB hard disk drive is a 3.5” hybrid drive that combines a high-capacity hard disk drive with a flash memory to act as a non-volatile cache. We already tested this concept on a 2,5” drive, the Seagate Laptop Thin SSHD. Now, let’s see if this concept is a good option for desktop computers, too.
The Desktop SSHD family has models with 1 TB, 2 TB, and 4 TB capacities. All of them use the 3.5” form factor, but the 1 TB model is 0.79” (20.1 mm) thick, while the 2 TB and 4 TB have a height of 1.03” (26.1 mm).
A hybrid disk drive is actually a hard disk drive with a built-in non-volatile cache. The idea is the same as the Intel Smart Response Technology: using a flash memory to cache the most frequently accessed data.
The Seagate Desktop SSHD 2 TB (ST2000DX001) is a 2 TB, 7.200 rpm hard drive, with 8 GiB of MLC flash memory as its “SSD portion” and 64 MiB of volatile cache. The drive uses an adaptive algorithm to “learn” the most accessed files and write them in the flash memory, so the true speed gain will be noticeable only after a few times of accessing the file. The main benefit is, of course, the reduction of the operating system boot time, since the files needed at the boot initiation will be the most likely to be cached, as well as frequently launched programs.
Figures 1 and 2 present the Seagate Desktop SSHD 2 TB hard disk drive.
Figure 1: Seagate Desktop SSHD 2 TB (top)
Figure 2: Seagate Desktop SSHD 2 TB (bottom)
In our tests, we will be comparing the Seagate Desktop SSHD 2 TB to a traditional hard disk drive with similar characteristics, the Seagate Barracuda 2 TB. In the table below, we will compare the basic specifications of these products.
|Manufacturer||Model||Model #||Rotational Speed||Interface||Buffer||Capacity||Price*|
|Seagate||Desktop HDD||ST2000DX001||7,200 rpm||SATA-600||64 MiB||2 TB||USD 120|
|Seagate||Barracuda||ST2000DM001||7,200 rpm||SATA-600||64 MiB||2 TB||USD 88|
* All prices were researched at Newegg.com on the day we published this review.
[nextpage title=”How We Tested”]
We tested the Seagate Desktop SSHD using HD Tune Pro, CrystalDiskMark, and PCMark 8 programs. In order to determine the performance gain of the portrayed drive, we also ran the tests on a conventional hard disk drive, a Seagate Barracuda 2 TB, model ST2000DM001, with 7200 rpm and 64 MiB cache. They are pretty much the same hard drive, with similar mechanic parts, the only difference being the SSD part of the portrayed drive.
The drives were connected, one at a time, to an internal SATA-600 port. The only variable component between each benchmarking session was the HDD being tested.
- CPU: Intel Core i7-4770K
- Motherboard: ASRock Z87 Killer
- Memory: 16 GB G.Skill Sniper (DDR3-1600/PC3-12800), configured at 1,600 MHz
- Video Card: GeForce GT 630 1 GB
- Video Resolution: 1920 x 1080
- Video Monitor: Philips 236VL
- Power Supply: Corsair CX500M
- Boot Drive: Kingston HyperX 3K 480 GB
Operating System Configuration
- Operating System: Windows 7 Home Basic 64-bit using NTFS file system
We adopted a 3% error margin in our tests, meaning performance differences of less than 3% cannot be considered meaningful. Therefore, when the performance difference between two products is less than 3%, we consider them to have similar performance.
We used CrystalDiskMark’s default configuration for our tests, which benchmarked each hard drive using a file size of 1,000 MB with five test runs. In the Desktop SSHD test, we repeated the procedure five times, in order to get advantage of the SSD cache portion.
In the sequential read test, the Desktop SSHD 2 TB was 18% faster than the Barracuda 2 TB.
The results in the sequential write test were pretty much the same; the Desktop SSHD 2 TB was 20% faster than the Barracuda 2 TB.
In the random read test using 512 kiB blocks, the Desktop SSHD 2 TB also came out on top, beating the Barracuda 2 TB by five percent.
Moving on to the random write test using 512 kiB blocks, the Desktop SSHD 2 TB was 28% faster than the Barracuda 2 TB.
In the random read test using 4 kiB blocks, the Desktop SSHD 2 TB outperformed the Barracuda 2 TB by 53%.
In the random write test using 4 kiB blocks, the Desktop SSHD 2 TB was 178% faster than the Barracuda 2 TB.
[nextpage title=”HD Tune Pro”]
Now we will look at the results recorded using HD Tune Pro.
In the burst speed test, none of drives took advantage of the speed of the SATA-600 interface. The Seagate Desktop SSHD 2 TB was 8% slower than the Barracuda 2 TB.
In the average read speed, however, the Desktop SSHD 2 TB was 7% faster than the Barracuda 2 TB.
Access time is another important measurement. It measures the time the storage device delays to start delivering data after the computer has asked for given data. It is measured in the order of milliseconds (ms, which are equal to 0.001 s); the lower this value, the better.
In this test, the Desktop SSHD actually recorded an average access time compatible with SSD units, while the Barracuda showed a typical access time for mechanical drives, being 6441% slower.
[nextpage title=”PCMark 8″]
We ran the Storage test on PCMark 8. This software performs a very long test, with some “real world” tests, such as importing pictures, video editing, starting applications, and gaming, among others. The result is shown as a score.
In the graph below are the scores achieved in the PCMark 8 Storage Score by each tested drive.
In those “real world” tests, the Desktop SSHD 2 TB drive performed very well, achieving a score 36% faster than the Barracuda 2 TB.
It is hard to verify the real advantage of a hybrid hard disk drive. Synthetic tests do not take advantage of the SSD portion, since the drive controller only places data there after it “learns” its frequently accessed data. But even in those tests, the Seagate Desktop SSHD 2 TB unit did not disappoint, being faster than a similar conventional hard disk drive in several tests.
In the PCMark 8 test, which simulates “real world” utilization, the Seagate hybrid drive showed its weapons. It performed very well, which indicates that in the day-by-day usage of the computer, booting the operating system, and launching programs, this drive will be better than a conventional hard drive.
It is commonly said that the best configuration nowadays is to have an SSD unit as the boot drive, and a traditional hard disk as the secondary drive, since the price of large SSDs is still prohibitive. But the Seagate Desktop HDD is the best of two worlds: it combines a huge storage capacity with the speed boost of an SSD unit.
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