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by William Kelley on November 1, 2010 in Hard Drives

The allure of an SSD is one that’s difficult to ignore, but with pricing still in the realm of limited adoption, many are choosing to wait things out. But what about taking a baby step into the SSD world, with a hard drive that equips a mechanical design with some NAND flash to speed things up? We’re taking a look at Seagate’s solution.

Test System & Methodology

At Techgage, we strive to make sure our results are as accurate as possible. Our testing is rigorous and time-consuming, but we feel the effort is worth it. In an attempt to leave no question unanswered, this page contains not only our testbed specifications, but also a fully-detailed look at how we conduct our testing.

If there is a bit of information that we’ve omitted, or you wish to offer thoughts or suggest changes, please feel free to shoot us an e-mail or post in our forums.

Test System

The table below lists the hardware used in our current storage-testing machine, which remains unchanged throughout all of our testing, with the obvious exception of the storage. Each hard drive used for the sake of comparison is also listed here. In addition, each one of the URLs in this table can be clicked to view our review of the respective product, or if a review doesn’t exist, you will be led to the product page on the manufacturer’s website.

Component
Techgage Hard Drive Test System
Processor Intel Core i5-750 – Quad-Core, 2.66GHz
Motherboard
Memory
Graphics
Audio
On-Board Audio
Storage

Seagate 320GB Barracuda 7200.10 (OS Drive)
Tested Drives:
Seagate Barracuda LP 2TB – 3G/bits
Seagate Barracuda 7200.12 1TB – 3G/bits
Seagate Momentus 5400.4 500GB
Seagate Momentus 7200.4 500GB
Seagate Momentus XT 500GB
Seagate Barracuda XT 2TB – 6G/bits
Western Digital Caviar Black 1TB
Western Digital Caviar Black 1TB – 3Gbit/s
Western Digital VelociRaptor 300GB – 3Gbit/s
Western Digital VelociRaptor 600GB – 3Gbit/s
Power Supply
Chassis
Display
Dell 2407WFP-HC
Et cetera
LG DVD-ROM
Windows Vista Ultimate 64-bit

When preparing our testbeds for any type of performance testing, we follow these guidelines:

    General Guidelines

  • No power-saving options are enabled in the motherboard’s BIOS.
  • Internet is disabled.
  • No Virus Scanner or Firewall is installed.
  • The OS is kept clean; no scrap files are left in between runs.
  • Hard drives affected are defragged with PerfectDisk 10 prior to a fresh benchmarking run.
  • Machine has proper airflow and the room temperature is 80°F (27°C) or less.
    Windows Vista Optimizations

  • User Account Control (UAC) is disabled.
  • Windows Defender, Firewall, Security Center, Search, and Updates are disabled.

Because it gives a more realistic interpretation of the common PC, we leave all of the power-related options in the BIOS to their default selection. This means that for Intel-based boards, SpeedStep is left in tact.



Our Windows Vista Desktop for Storage-Testing

To aide with the goal of keeping accurate and repeatable results, we alter certain services in Windows Vista from starting up at boot. This is due to the fact that these services have the tendency to start up in the background without notice, potentially causing slightly inaccurate results. Disabling “Windows Search” turns off the OS’ indexing which can at times utilize the hard drive and memory more than we’d like.

Storage Benchmarks

In order to get a great overall outlook on how a particular drive performs compared to the competition, we run a variety of real-world and synthetic benchmarks. As they’re standard in the industry, our synthetics include PCMark Vantage, Iometer and HD Tune Pro. For our real-world tests, we use 7-Zip, Adobe Lightroom, dBpoweramp, file transfers, and also measure boot times. On the non-performance side of things, we also measure for drive temperatures, acoustics and power consumption.

Each one of our tests is explained in more detail on its respective page.


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