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Whether it’s cars, dog breeds, or plant species, it seems like there are hybrid versions of just about everything these days. It’s not a bad idea—why not mix two generally wonderful things to create something even better? That’s what Seagate hopes to accomplish with its next generation of hybrid drives. The Momentus XT Solid State Hybrid Hard Drive packs the storage of a standard hard drive with the speed of an SSD. It’s totally worth it if you can’t afford a high-priced, low-capacity SSD, and are sick of the slow read and write speeds of the standard platter-based drive.
Inside the Momentus XT’s 2.5-inch chassis is a 7200-rpm hard drive connected to 8GB of solid state memory and 32MB of DDR3 cache memory. It’s all tied together with Seagate’s own FAST Factor technology, which is basically flash-assisted storage that learns what you’re frequently accessing—your operating system, for instance—and stores it in the SSD for faster access. The custom algorithm does all the guesswork for you—all you have to do is install the drive in your Mac.
The Momentus XT Hybrid drive has a platter inside and 6GB of solid-state storage.
The benchmarks clearly put the Momentus XT between an SSD and a traditional platter-based drive. Start up time went from a minute on a standard 7200-rpm hard drive to half that with the Momentus XT. The read and write speeds of the hybrid drive were 106 MB/s and 72 MB/s, respectively, while the regular HDD read and wrote at 85 MB/s and 62 MB/s. For comparison, an Intel 510 Series SSD clocked in at 190 MB/s and 150 MB/s in our read and write tests.
But like a hybrid car, the Momentus XT has its quirks. It’s still a platter-based drive, so it’s not as durable as an SSD. Also, speed gains can be incremental, as the drive learns what files you access most. And while Momentus is cheaper than solid state drives, the cost-per-gigabyte is still considerably higher than traditional platters.
The bottom line. The Momentus XT is a hybrid in the best possible sense. You get the capacity of a traditional disk, along with (some of) the speed of an SSD, without breaking the bank.
Momentus XT Hybrid Drive
MacBook, Mac mini, or MacBook Pro with Intel processor running Mac OS X or later
Flash memory means faster speeds. Drive adapts to your usage.
Moving parts means it’s still susceptible to damage, just like your regular drive. Speeds up boot times, but transferring files is pretty much the same as traditional drives. Higher cost-per-gigabyte.