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Seagate Momentus XT
The Seagate Momentus XT is an interesting addition to this round-up as it's not strictly a solid-state drive, but rather a hybrid. This drive attempts to deliver the best of both worlds by offering huge storage capacity at a reasonable price, with the added performance boost of NAND flash memory technology. With our pricing limit for this article we were able to get the largest model which features an impressive 500GB for just $135. There are also 320GB and 250GB variants available for $115 and $100, respectively.
Controller = Texas Instruments SH6966 motor controller + eASIC memory controller
Cache = Winbond W942G6EH-5 (32MB)
Memory = Micron MT29F32G08AECBBH1-12:B (4GB)
Compared to the Seagate Momentus 7200.4 series which costs just $53, $60 and $70 for the 250GB, 320GB and 500GB models, the Momentus XT does fetch quite a premium as it's almost twice as expensive. However, Seagate claims an 80% performance boost over traditional 7200 RPM hard drives and for the most part that statement is true.
The Seagate Momentus XT is designed for a slightly different purpose than the SSDs featured in this comparison review: it's intended as a laptop drive upgrade where users do not often have the luxury of using multiple hard drives. On a desktop you can opt for an affordable SSD to boot your OS and a larger hard drive for storage purposes, but on most laptops you only have space for a single drive and in those cases a tiny 32/40GB drive is often insufficient.
Nevertheless, we were keen to see how the Seagate Momentus XT stacks up against these affordable SSDs given that they are competing in a similar price range. The Momentus XT drives carry a single 4GB SLC NAND flash chip used as a read cache while all the data is actually written to the hard drive. At first we were shocked to find that this hybrid HDD/SSD only featured 4GB of NAND flash memory, but having tested the drive against traditional 2.5-inch HDDs we have to admit that the results speak for themselves.