Seagate Desktop SSHD 2TB Hard Drive Review
[Solid state storage has seen a gradual price reduction to the point where SSDs are now even more competitive with traditional hard drives in terms of the price consumers pay for storage capacity. However, if large amount of storage space is necessary, HDDs are still the way to go and all too often, than means a good amount of performance is left on the table. There is a middle ground though; Seagate’s long-standing hybrid drive line (now appropriately named the Desktop SSHD series) promises to combine the raw throughput of an SSD with the massive capacity of HDDs.
In order to accomplish their goals, Seagate integrates NAND ICs onto a hard drive’s PCB but, as of late, this direction was only taken for the notebook-centric lineup. This meant Seagate’s answer to Western Digital’s excellent Black series rested solely on the Barracuda XT’s substantial shoulders. Now, with the Desktop SSHD series, these technological marvels are finally making their way into the traditional desktop form factors.
For three generations we have watched Seagate’s answer to the SSD grow and develop from an interesting idea into a true Solid State Hybrid drive. During that time Seagate focused entirely on 2.5” ‘laptop’ form-factor models and while the enthusiast community bemoaned the lack of a 3.5” option, in retrospect this was the right decision. By taking their time to properly develop and refine their design Seagate were able to gain valuable insights and knowledge without undue risk to their main SATA-based portfolio. It may have taken them years to feel their solution was ready for the mainstream PC marketplace but with the release of the Desktop SSHD 2TB, consumers finally have a 3.5” drive that has been made with them and not portable PC consumers in mind.
Where the SSHD series truly excels is in the pricing department. For the 2TB version you’ll pay around $125 which would also buy an entry-level 120GB SSD. Meanwhile, an SSD with a similar capacity doesn’t even exist in the consumer market and creating a 2TB RAID array would cost about ten times as much.
While it may not carry the storied Barracuda nameplate, the Desktop SSHD shares quite a bit of commonality with the older Barracuda XT line and its 2.5” SSHD brethren. From the Laptop SSHD line Seagate has carried over the custom controller configuration with 8GB of NAND which has a portion set aside for quasi SLC mode write buffering. However, unlike the Laptop SSHD and its slow 5400rpm spindle speed, the Desktop SSHD borrows the Barracuda 3TB’s 7200RPM rotational velocity, 64MB of onboard cache and best of all its one terabyte platters.
These two ultra-dense platters mean that data which is stored on the hard drive portion of the Desktop SSHD can be accessed just as quickly as the Barracuda 3TB model. This certainly gives the baseline performance of the Desktop SSHD a major leg up over both its Laptop SSHD and Desktop HDD brethren.
While it would have been nice to see this SSHD take advantage of the additional room the 3.5” form-factor PCB afforded them for additional NAND capacity, Seagate is counting on their increasingly sophisticated algorithms to make the most of the single 8GB MLC NAND IC they have provided. Even though you would have to read the label of the Desktop SSHD to tell it apart from its Desktop HDD siblings, there’s hope the additional performance abilities a Hybrid configuration affords users will help distinguish it from every other hard drive on the market.
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