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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.

Real-World: dBpoweramp, Adobe Lightroom, Boot Times

dBpoweramp R13

Thanks to the fact that mobile audio players are more popular than ever, so is music conversion. It’s not uncommon for even the regular consumer to find a reason to convert a music file, whether it be an incompatibility issue, the fact that a file is too large, or because the file needs to be used for a more specific purpose, such as for a video, webpage, game, and so on. Of all the music converters on the market, though, one of the absolute best is Illustrate’s dBpoweramp.

The reasons are simple. First, there’s the ease-of-use, and then there’s the fact that it supports a wide-range of music formats. If you have even the most bizarre audio file extension, dBpoweramp will no doubt be able to handle it. A second reason dBpoweramp is so powerful is because it supports multi-core encoding, which means that the beefy quad-core in your PC actually gets put to good use. At the same time, because we’re able to convert four files at once, it makes for a great storage benchmark.

Adobe Lightroom 2.5

Photo manipulation benchmarks are more relevant than ever, given the proliferation of high-end digital photography hardware. For this benchmark, we test the system’s handling of RAW photo data using Adobe Lightroom, an excellent RAW photo editor and organizer that’s easy to use and looks fantastic.

For our testing, we take 100 RAW files (in Nikon’s .NEF file format) which have a 10-megapixel resolution, and export them as JPEG files in 1000×669 resolution, similar to most of the photos we use here on the website. Such a result could also be easily distributed online or saved as a low-resolution backup. This test involves not only scaling of the image itself, but encoding in a different image format.

Windows 7 Boot Time

Here’s a scenario that most of us deal with on a daily basis… boot times. Believe it or not, storage performance can play a rather sizable role in the duration of boot process of the OS. Storage devices with lower access times excel the greatest, as a lot of the boot data is stored on various parts of the drive – it’s not usually all sequential. So, it’s no surprise that 10K RPM and higher drives, or SSD’s, excel where this is concerned.

dBpoweramp continued the trend of excellent performance which is more attributed to the mechanical side of the drive and not the flash side. Performance was excellent and class leading with the 7200.4 once again closely in second. Adobe Lightroom performance was mid pack with the Momentus XT staying ahead of its little brother and even besting a few of the desktop drives.

Windows Boot Time testing was a whole different story. I ran this test 5 times just as I did with the Futuremark Vantage test as I noticed with every boot sequence, the time was lower and lower. I average out the 5 runs for the time reported. I was simply dumfounded as to how quickly I could be up and running with this drive. Here is one area that will absolutely appeal to anyone using it.