09 May 2016

Review of Seagate SSHD 1TB (32GB NAND) Drive ST1000LX001

Review of Seagate SSHD 1TB (32GB NAND) Drive ST1000LX001
hdtvsg 2 May 2016

Seagate is one of the first to pioneer hybrid drives. In fact, the first hybrid drive comes with a 8GB NAND flash that functions as a cache. Seagate calls such drives Solid State Hybrid Drive.
With the price of NAND flash coming down, Seagate introduces a newer version of the Hybrid drive that surpasses the previous generation in terms of performance with a 4X increase in the amount of flash memory.
This new SSHD comes with 1TB of Hard drive and a 32GB NAND Flash in a 2.5" drive at 9.5mm thickness. This new drive is targeted in replacing single bay aging notebooks HDD as it boosts performance in terms of boot time, application loading etc. With the lower cost per Terabyte, users can store larger files or archives while enjoying better performance over traditional HDDs.
Seagate DiscWizard (which should be a Acronis OEM) for Windows allows one to clone your existing HDD to the new HDD with ease.
As Seagate SSHD utilises Adaptive Memory Technology that tracks data usage and prioritises data for faster access in the NAND flash. It is transparent to the end user. There is no need to install additional drivers for the Operating System. Thus the drive will function just like any conventional HDD in a PC, MAC or PS/4.
In the next few pages, we will take a look at the specifications and benchmarks, comparing it as an upgrade option to existing notebook HDD.

The Seagate SSHD ST1000LX001

The ST1000LX001 looks no different from a traditional 2.5" HDD. The only difference is the internals as it comes with a 32GB NAND and serves like a cache for commonly accessed files. That is through this adaptive technology, it is able to speed up access to applications, games and file access.


IMG_20160416_192124 copy IMG_20160416_192132 copy seagate internals

Specifications

Seagate-Laptop-SSHD-1TB-32GB-NAND-specs

Benchmarking

To test the Hybrid drive, we compared it with our old Seagate Momentus 7200.4 7200RPM 500GB HDD which came with the HP Envy 14 notebook.
  • HP ENVY 14
  • 6GB SODIMM DDR3-1333
  • ATi Radeon Mobility HD 5450
  • Seagate ST9500420AS 7200.4 Mementus HDD 500GB
  • Seagate ST1000LX001 SSHD 1000GB
In our first tests, we will use the commonly used HDD Benchmark test CrystalMarkInfo and ATTO

CrystalDiskMark on Seagate SSHD

The CrystalDiskMark gives a rough gauge of the performance of HDD or SSD with 5 runs of the tests in Sequential read/write and random 4K tests. The results are thus the average of the 5 runs.
As we can see from the results below, the SSHD is faster in terms of sequential read and write. This is probably due to the large cache of 32GB NAND. The numbers show that it is  56% faster in sequential read and 42% faster in Sequential Write for Q32T1 tests.
As adaptive caching will boost performance in commonly accessed files, this might not be so for random reads and writes. As it is reflected in the numbers below, the differences aren't just a few percentage points away.
CrystalDiskMark of Seagate SSHD
CrystalDiskMark of Seagate SSHD
CrystalDiskMark of Seagate 7200.4 HDD
CrystalDiskMark of Seagate 7200.4 HDD

ATTO Disk Benchmark on Seagate SSHD

Although both screen shots appeared slightly different, the numbers are comparable for 8K to 8MB tests for read and write speeds.
Again, the Seagate Hybrid drive performs better than the HDD. At 8MB block, the score is 120MB/s and 92MB/s for read and write versus that of 89MB/s and 92MB/s for read and write on the older HDD.
atto benchmark
ATTO Benchmark for Seagate SSHD
ATTO Benchmark for Seagate 7200.4
ATTO Benchmark for Seagate 7200.4

PC MARK 7 Benchmarks on Seagate SSHD

PC Mark 7 is a commonly benchmark suite for testing overall PC performance. It can also be used to do sub level tests targeting the IO, Graphics, Disk Performance etc.
In this test, we focused on the Secondary HDD test suite of PC Mark 7. This test will run the suite of test 3 times and log down the time taken and an average score will be generated.
As the SSHD uses adaptive caching, we should be able to see an improved speed.
Here is our result :
secondary storage speed test

As we can see, for both Raw secondary storage and secondary storage,  The traditional HDD only scored 341 vs 1397 on the SSHD, 309% improvement. In Secondary Storage, the scores are 3436 versus 1614, a 112% improvement over the conventional HDD.
Let's take a look at the detail scores for one of the tests for Gaming.
The left hand column are test results on the Seagate momentus 7200.4 HDD and the right column is the scores for the Hybrid drive.
The final score is 4.5MB/s vs 11.23MB/s
If we look carefully at the three iterations of the tests, The first column shows that the three tests gives an almost consistent score of 4.5MB/s. As for the tests done on the Hybrid drive, the scores were 8.81MB/s, 12.13MB/s and 12.75MB/s in the 3 iterations.
Secondary storage - gaming / Secondary storage - gamingSecondary storage - gaming / Secondary storage - gaming
4.5019 MB/s11.23373 MB/s
Secondary storage - gaming iteration 1Secondary storage - gaming iteration 1
4.49132 MB/s8.81735 MB/s
Secondary storage - gaming iteration 2Secondary storage - gaming iteration 2
4.52141 MB/s12.13458 MB/s
Secondary storage - gaming iteration 3Secondary storage - gaming iteration 3
4.49298 MB/s12.74925 MB/s


Real time workload tests on Seagate SSHD

In our real world tests, we did 4 simple tests on both drives. They are Windows 10 Boot up time, OpenOffice Write Launch time, OpenOffice Writer loading 7 documents total 116MB (selecting all, drag and drop) and Paint.net (opening of 2 TIFs by drag and drop) total 413MB.

Windows 10 Boot Up Time

We test the two drives using the smartphone's stop watch to time the boot up time of the Windows 10. The timings were taken starting after we press the button button on the notebook till the Windows 10 login screen appears.
The orange bar indicate the timings of our old HDD and the yellow is the Hybrid drive.
The system was shut down in between the 3 rounds of tests.
As we can see the original HDD took 32s, 21.95s, 20s to boot up. As for the Hybrid drive, we can see it almost halved to 17s in the first boot. The subsequent timings are 14s and 15.35s which are still 5s faster than the hard disk.
windows 10 boot up time
As for OpenOffice Writer, we time it once we click on the icon and stop after the menus appear. The timings are taken thrice. The HDD in this case took 4.41s, 4.7s, 3.39s in 3 tries. As for our Hybrid drive,  the timings are shaved down to 1.59s from the 1st try of 3.12s.
It is 41% faster on first try and 113% faster on the third try. The speed improvement is quite apparent.
openoffice write launch timing
Upon opening of the Writer, 7 documents DOCX files were loaded and timed from start to completion. The timings show that the Hybrid drive on the 3rd run is almost 3s ahead of the HDD. That is an 18% improvement.
openoffice writer loading time
We load 2 TIF image files into the PAINT.NET application and timed the duration it takes to open both TIF files.
Again, we see that in the 3 runs, the HDD takes almost the same timing at 9s, but on the third run for the test on Hyrbid HDD, the time taken has sped up to 7.1s. That is a 27% speed improvement using the Hybrid HDD.
paint net open two 2 files

Conclusion

The Seagate SSHD Hybrid HDD is definitely an innovative product that marries fast speed NAND with conventional HDD to give it speed boost. This is especially important as Hard Disk has been the proven and tested platform for data storage over decades.
With the advancement of technology, photos taken using smartphone or cameras aren't that small in size. Videos taken in HD, 4K will require a higher capacity drive and a HDD provides that capacity and safer storage compared to SSD in a single unit.
Yes SSD provides the speed of access, but that is at the expense of higher capacity. With the NAND flash built into the HDD, it somewhat bridges the needs for faster speed and higher capacity but at a lower price.
At the moment, a 1TB SSD, costs around USD 300 while this Seagate SSHD 1TB ST1000LX001 only costs USD 116. That is almost 33% of a same size SSD.
I would recommend this product for notebook users who needs that extra HDD space as it is less pricey and offers a safer storage solution with a 5 years warranty. (Can your SSD last you 5 years ? )

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