Tuesday, 4 August 2015

Comprehensive Notebook Hard Disk Benchmarks by Jens Wrede


Test: 14 Notebook HDDs

Created: by
Jens Wrede

palit-680-logoIf you are in the process of deciding for a particular notebook HDD you will have noticed that the variety of models is in the way of making a quick selection. Criteria like amount of storage space, speed of data transfer, purchase price or the height of the HDD are joined by the feature of hybrid (sshd) drives. To get a good overview of the current market situation, we compared a total of 14 2.5" test subjects in different variants. Among them are various models of the big four manufacturers (HGST, Seagate, Toshiba and Western Digital). The storage space ranges from 500 gigabytes to 2 terabytes, with HDDs' and SSHDs' heights varying from slim 7 to massive 15 mm. The following pages will feature technical details and of course a performance check.

Back when we tested the 3.5" models, we focussed on storage space as a listing criterium; this approach seemed unsuitable for the notebook segment. The amount of storage space offered is only a minor criterion. Rather, we focussed on classification by noise level, power consumption and heat generation. We have deliberately created a large which compares all subjects, notwithstanding that some comparisons can be a bad fit, or that the manufacturers intended them for different operating scenarios.

All test subjects with their respective technical data:
Manufacturer HGST HGST HGST Seagate
Model Travelstar 5K1500 Travelstar 7K1000 Travelstar Z7K500 Laptop SSHD
Model Name HTS541515A9E630 HTS721010A9E630 HTS725050A7E630 ST1000LM014
Serial number 0J28001 0J22423 0J26005 W3805FRS
Source Manufacturer Manufacturer Manufacturer Manufacturer
Street Price from 93 EUR (7 ct / GiB) from 75 EUR (8 ct / GiB) from 50 EUR (10 ct / GiB) from 92 EUR (10 ct / GiB)
Homepage hgst.com hgst.com hgst.com seagate.com

Firmware A500 A3B0 A3A0 SM11
Form Factor 2.5 inches (9.5 mm) 2.5 inches (9.5 mm) 2.5" (7mm) 2.5 inches (9.5 mm)
Weight 118 g 115 g 95 g 100 g
Capacity (according to Manufacturer) 1500 GB (3 discs) 1000 GB (2 discs) 500 GB (1 disc) 1000 GB (2 discs)
Capacity (formatted) 1396 GiB 931 GiB 465 GiB 931 GiB
Interface SATA 6 Gb/s SATA 6 Gb/s SATA 6 Gb/s SATA 6 Gb/s
Sector size 4096 bytes (512e) 4096 bytes (512e) 4096 bytes (512e) 4096 bytes (512e)
Cache 32 MB 32 MB 32 MB 64 MB
Rotation speed 5400 U / m 7200 U / m 7200 U / m 5400 U / m

Manufacturer Warranty 3 years 3 years 2 years 3 years

Manufacturer Seagate Seagate Toshiba Toshiba
Model Laptop Thin SSHD Momentus XT MQ01ABB200 MQ01ABFxxx
Model Name ST500LM000 ST750LX003 MQ01ABB200 MQ01ABF050
Serial number W3701093 W200MF4J 43SOP2INT 334FP04XT
Source Manufacturer Manufacturer Manufacturer Manufacturer
Street Price from 63 EUR (13 ct / GiB) from 212 EUR (30 ct / GiB) from 160 EUR (9 ct / GiB) from 45 EUR (9 ct / GiB)
Homepage seagate.com seagate.com toshiba.com toshiba.com

Firmware SM11 SM12 0U 1A
Form Factor 2.5" (7mm) 2.5 inches (9.5 mm) 2.5 inches (15mm) 2.5" (7mm)
Weight 100 g 100 g 180 g 92 g
Capacity (according to Manufacturer) 500 GB (1 disc) 750 GB (2 discs) 2000 GB (4 discs) 500 GB (1 discs)
Capacity (formatted) 465 GiB 697 GiB 1862 GiB 465 GiB
Interface SATA 6 Gb/s SATA 6 Gb/s SATA 3 Gbit/s SATA 6 Gb/s
Sector size 4096 bytes (512e) 4096 bytes (512e) 4096 bytes (512e) 4096 bytes (512e)
Cache 64 MB 32 MB 8 MB 8 MB
Rotation speed 5400 U / m 7200 U / m 5400 U / m 5400 U / m

Manufacturer Warranty 3 years 3 years 2 years 3 years

Manufacturer Toshiba Western Digital Western Digital Western Digital
Model MQ01ABFxxxH Black Blue Blue Slim
Serial number 63LBW05WT WX31A73L2274 WXC1A5304680 WXA1A2307903
Source Manufacturer Manufacturer Manufacturer Manufacturer
Street Price from 72 EUR (15 ct / GiB) from 66 EUR (9 ct / GiB) from 67 EUR (7 ct / GiB) from 67 EUR (7 ct / GiB)
Homepage toshiba.com wdc.com wdc.com wdc.com

Firmware 2A A01 A01 A01
Form Factor 2.5" (7mm) 2.5 inches (9.5 mm) 2.5 inches (9.5 mm) 2.5" (7mm)
Weight 92 g 115 g 120 g 90 g
Capacity (according to Manufacturer) 500 GB (1 disc) 750 GB (2 discs) 1000 GB (2 discs) 1000 GB (2 discs)
Capacity (formatted) 465 GiB 697 GiB 931 GiB 931 GiB
Interface SATA 6 Gb/s SATA 6 Gb/s SATA 6 Gb/s SATA 6 Gb/s
Sector size 4096 bytes (512e) 4096 bytes (512e) 4096 bytes (512e) 4096 bytes (512e)
Cache 32 MB 16 MB 8 MB 16 MB
Rotation speed 5400 U / m 7200 U / m 5400 U / m 5400 U / m

Manufacturer Warranty 3 years 5 years 2 years 2 years

Manufacturer Western Digital Western Digital
Model Green Red
Model Name WD20NPVT WD10JFCX
Serial number WX41A43H7914 WXA1E63DLSD5
Source Manufacturer Manufacturer
Street Price from 146 EUR (7 ct / GiB) from 64 EUR (6 ct / GiB)
Homepage wdc.com wdc.com

Firmware A01 A01
Form Factor 2.5 inches (15mm) 2.5 inches (9.5 mm)
Weight 180 g 115 g
Capacity (according to Manufacturer) 2000 GB (4 discs) 1000 GB (2 discs)
Capacity (formatted) 1862 GiB 931 GiB
Interface SATA 3 Gbit/s SATA 6 Gb/s
Sector size 4096 bytes (512e) 4096 bytes (512e)
Cache 8 MB 16 MB
Rotation speed 5400 U / m 5400 U / m

Manufacturer Warranty 2 years 3 years
On the following pages, each of the drives will be presented with its features and characteristics. We will be anticipating benchmarks with a short statement on the performance.

The beginning of the roundup makes the HTS541515A9E630 from the series "Travelstar 5K1500" by HGST. It features a capacity of 1.5 Terabytes in the traditional 2.5" format at 9.5mm height. Inside we find three magnetic disks that rotate at 5400 revolutions per minute. Traditionally, HGST publish their mobile hard drives in the "Travel Star" series, with the name already mentioning rotation speed (5K/7K) and capacity.
{jphoto image=46195}
The transfer interface is as usual SATA 6Gb/s, the drive has a cache of 32 megabytes. In addition to the above "standard type" there are two further models: one with Bulk Data Encryption and onc with "Enhanced Matte" certification (= 24x7). The physical sector size is 4096 bytes (4K), but is on emulated by the controller to be 512 (512e). The HTS541515A9E630 comprises a three-year warranty.
The performance of the Travelstar is at a level comparable with the MQ01ABB200 drive from Toshiba and the Western Digital WD20NPVT. The 5K1500 is very apt at running the PCMark benchmarks, but then looses compared to the MQ01ABB200 in terms of the data transfer rate and access time.

Another represantative of HGSTs Travelstar series is the 7K1000, represented here by the HTS721010A9E630. As the name suggests, it's a specimen with a capacity of one terabyte. The HDD has two magnetic disks operating at a rotational speed of 7200 rpm. For the notebook sector, the faster rotating models are more likely to be exotic, as their increased performance will lead to higher power consumption and noise. The internal cache is 32 MB. No differences regarding speed of the SATA interface and the physical/emulated sector size. Buyers of HTS721010A9E630 receive a three-year warranty.
{jphoto image=46196}
Thanks to the high rotational speed of the HTS721010A9E630, it is able to secure first place in the Random Access benchmark. In the sequential read and write rates makes for a head-to-head race with the WD7500BPKX. In the other benchmarks, the two 7200-rpm drives are quite similar. Thanks to lower values in power consumption, temperature, and noise, the HGSTs 7K1000 is somwhat ahead.

The third tes subject by HGST is the HTS725050A7E630 from the extra-thin Z-series Z7K500. Models of this series have normal dimensions in length and width, but a reduced height of only 7 mm. Also worth mentioning is the fact that the 500 GB of storage are provided by a single disc. Combined with the rotation speed of 7200 rpm, this HDD is therefore likely to belong to the higher performing models.
{jphoto image=46197}
The SATA interface is as usual 6Gb/s, the drive's internal cache amounts to 32 MB. HTS725050A7E630 uses 4k sectors internally that are automatically emulated as 512. As with the normal Travelstar series, there are additional models with Bulk Data Encryption and Enhanced Availability. The warranty period for HTS725050A7E630 is two years.
Contrary to our expectations, the Z7K500 is only minimally above the performance levels of the remaining 5400 rpm HDDs. But it is significantly slower than the 7200 rpm drives. Although it is meant for mobile purposes (e.g. ultra-thin external disk), we would have expected more from the Z7K500 due to the 1 disc design and high rotation speed.

From Seagate's new "Laptop SSHD" series we received the ST1000LM014. The acronym SSHD was formerly known as hybrid drives HDDs with additional flash memory. In the past, Seagate offered their Momentus XT, which we added to this comparison (more on this later). The aim of this SSHD synthesis is to unite the best of both worlds: a high capacity by magnetic writing and the fast access times of an SSD.
The core of Seagate SSHD is the "Adaptive Memory Technology". It is an algorithm that analyzes the data usage and frequently used information stored on the SSD area. A similar method has been applied in the Momentus XT; however, it was only possible to use the flash memory when reading. The new laptop and laptop thin SSHDs can now write directly on the NAND area. An unusual feature is the large DRAM cache of the ST1000ML014, which amounts to 64 MB. The SSHD has a capacity of one terabyte, provided by two disks. In addition, an SSD area was implemented based on MLC chips with a total capacity of 8 GB. The rotational speed of the magnetic disks is 5400 rpm, using 4k sectors. Seagate grants a warranty period of three years.
{jphoto image=46198}
The promised SSD-like performance of the ST1000LM014: the Random Access Time was 19.8 ms in the first run, in subsequent tests it went down to 0.3 ms. Similar jumps were also measurable in PCMark Vantage, from 5866 points in the first run to 14825 points in the second and eventually up to 17318 points in the third round. PCMark 7 however is unruly against SSHDs, no significant increase was seen between the individual runs.

With the ST500LM000 we present the second Seagate test subject, this time from the series "Thin Laptop SSHD". As the naming suggests, it is a very flat model. The height of the series has been reduced to 7 mm, the capacity was also reduced: to 500 GB. Only one magnetic disk is used, which leads to less heat and noise. The flash area is identical in size: 8 GB, provided by MLC chips. In terms of technical equipment, there are no differences between laptop and laptop thin versions, and we do not need to repeat the data. As with the laptop SSHD, Seagate grants a 3 year warranty.
{jphoto image=46199}
Comparing ST1000LM014 and ST500LM000 in their benchmark results, most of the results are in favor of the ST1000LM014. It must be said however that the differences are really marginal. Only during the boot process there was a distinct advantage of the ST1000LM014 by almost six seconds, but the ST500LM000 was better by almost seven MB/s at the minimum read rate. Although the ST500LM000 has one magnetic disk less, the reduced height provides for increased heating, it gets 2°C warmer than the ST1000LM014.

The third Seagate representative is the former SSHD Momentus XT series. Drives of this series have already been available for some time, but for completeness' sake we decided to go for the ST750LX003. Contrary to the new generation of SSHDs, the Momentus XT is still operating with 8GB SLC chips and the disks rotate at 7200 rpm. The recognition of which data goes into the flash area is completely automated and runs in the background, no driver or user intervention required. The capacity of 750 GB is provided by the ST750LX003 on two disks. The internal buffer amounts to 32 MB. Seagate grants a warranty period of 3 years, and the drive has reliability values (Load / Unload cycles of 600,000, non-recoverable read error rate of 1 per 10 ^ 14 bits) known from desktop HDDs.
{jphoto image=46200}
A direct performance comparison of the Momentus XT drives with the successor of the new laptop SSHD series shows that Seagate has made significant improvements in the Adaptive Memory process (recognition algorithm for performance control). Between first and second run of PCMark Vantage, the Momentus XT only showed an increase of about 3700 points, whereas the two new laptop SSHDs achieved 9000 points more. In the Overall and Secondary Storage Evaluation of PCMark 7, the Momentus was able to gain a narrow lead.

Now that we have looked at the subjects from HGST and Seagate, we come to the third manufacturer: Toshiba. The PR agency provided us three drives in varying versions, and we will start with the MQ01ABB200. The mobile 2.5" disk has a capacity of 2 terabytes, which of course is reflected in the increased height. Instead of the 9-mm standard format, the MQ01ABB200 is a whopping 15 mm high. Four magnetic disks rotate at 5400 revolutions per minute. It is amazing that the HDD has a comparatively tiny cache of only 8 megabytes. This is for us the first indication that the drive is designed almost exclusively for use in external data sources, where sequential read/write is more important and a bigger cache is not that crucial. The SATA interface 3Gb/s is also not quite up-to-date. The MQ01ABB200 has a special feature: a shock sensor. Factory Toshiba offers a warranty period of two years.
{jphoto image=46203}
The lower rotational speed of the MQ01ABB200 is reflected in the measured Random Access Time: 17 to 18 ms. No quantum jumps were to be expected concerning the transfer rate: 56 to 91.6 MB/s (read) and 54 to 88 MB/s (write). This places the drive in the midfield, just like in the PCMark Suites. The results match the design, the focus is clearly on capacity and not on performance. As a data dump the MQ01ABB200 is an outstanding device, as a system drive or storage location for game files it is unsuitable.

The next model from Toshiba is the MQ01ABF050 from the MQ01ABFxxx series. Equipped with one disc, the HDD provides the buyer with a storage capacity of 500 GB. The rotation speed of 5400 revolutions per minute will not lead to quantum leaps in terms of performance, the cache of 8 megabytes is somewhat small. In line with the low capacity and the use of one disc, Toshiba was able to limit the height of the MQ01ABF050 to 7 mm. The physical sector size is 4K, which can be emulated as 512 bytes. The SATA interface operates at state-of-the-art 6 Gbit/s. The warranty period is two years.
{jphoto image=46201}
The MQ01ABF050 is a solid drive, which delivers an average performance considering the technical data. The results are in the lower midfield, often only just behind the competition. In PCMark 7 and Vantage it occupied the last place, while it fared slightly better in the HDTune tests. With its low height, the HDD is suitable mainly for very flat external drives  or ultra-compact sub/netbooks.

The third drive from Toshiba is the MQ01ABF050H from the MQ01ABFxxxH series. The capacity amounts to 500 GB (on a single magnetic disk), 8 GB of NAND Flash used by the SSHD automatically for fast data retrieval. Since only one magnetic disk is used, the Toshiba was easily able to reduce the overall height to 7 mm. The rotation speed is moderate 5400 rpm and the cache amounts to 32 MB. The interface is SATA (6Gb/s). The warranty period of the MQ01ABF050H is three years, as for all * ABFH models.
{jphoto image=46202}
In the individual test disciplines, the MQ01ABF050H showed good results. It remains to note that the quality of the detection algorithms for flash use varies significantly from manufacturer to manufacturer: while the two Seagate SSHDs in Vantage first run were able to score significantly more points (Seagate: 5866/5657, Toshiba: 3397), the second run went to Seagate, too (Seagate: 14825/14494, Toshiba: 8715). However, after the third round, all three subjects were almost on a level (Seagate: 17318/17295, Toshiba: 17877). Concerning the IOPS in HDTune, the MQ01ABF050H was clearly ahead, just like in the total value and individual events in PCMark 7.

Western Digital also provided us with a few notebook hard drives. Let's start with the performance-oriented WD7500BPKX from the Black series of the manufacturer. Our model has been equipped with the fastest SATA interface with 6 Gbit/s, older specimens with the BPKT name only provide 3 Gb/s. The rotation speed of the two magnetic disks in all HDDs of the Black Series is 7200 rpm, the cache at 16 MB is rather meager. Western Digital grants purchasers a very long warranty period of five years.
{jphoto image=46204}
The performance promises from Western Digital were easily met by the WD7500BPKX; in benchmarks it is clearly ahead of the rest of the drives (with the exception of the SSHD) and has to share top ranking only in a few benchmarks with HGST's Travelstar. However, it is also the leader in power consumption (under load), and in noise level: during the benchmark runs, a significantly perceptible operating noise was consistently audible. However, the temperature remained stable at a low level, other drives got much warmer.

The second WD drive is the WD10JPVX, the first representative of the Blue Series. Analogous to the Black model there are various versions that provide information about the used SATA Interface: the CX/VX-identifiers have 6 Gbit/s, the VT-versions only 3 Gb/s. The cache of all specimens amounts to 8 MB, except for the WD10SPCX and the WD7500LPCX, which have 16 MB. The rotational speed of the drives the same in all versions, 5400 revolutions per minute. Western Digital grants a two-year guarantee for models of the Blue series.
{jphoto image=46205}
The WD10JPVX is an all-rounder that does not excel in any discipline. The results are average, no positive or negative accents. This is a good HDD for various applications at a fair price, no more and no less. However, the low cache makes it ideal for use in external enclosures, since as soon as many data requests go to the HDD, it will be full, and performance will definately suffer.

The second representative of the Blue Series is the WD10SPCX. This is the "thin" version, the height is only 7 mm. There is also the "Ultra Thin" version WD5000MPCK with 5 mm, which features a SFF-8784 connector Edge and is not intended for the end user. Despite the reduced height, our WD10SPCX provides  a capacity of one terabyte in two disks. Rotation speed is 5400 rpm and cache amounts to 16 MB. Regarding the performance of the WD10SPCX, is is therefore likely to be end up in the midfield.
{jphoto image=46207}
Our performance comparison confirms the assumption that this is a solid 2.5'' drive. In all disciplines, the HDD delivers average results that do not stand out, neither positively or negatively. It can easily be used in notebooks, consumption and noise measurements did not show negative results, and with the 16-MB cache it will easily be able to cope with everyday use.

The fourth WD drive we received is WD20NPVT of the capacity-oriented Green series. In its massive height of 15 mm, Western Digital implemented 4 drives, the buyer gets two terabytes of disk space. With this design, the WD20NPVT of course will not fit into notebooks, but considering the primary purpose of use in external data sources, this is quite irrelevant. The NPVT is equipped with SATA 3 Gb/s, the slightly larger brother NPVX has SATA 6 Gbit/s. With a cache size of only 8 MB, it is becoming increasingly clear that WD did not have a high performance in mind. The rotation speed amounts to 5400 rpm and the warranty period to two years.
{jphoto image=46210}
Looking at the all-benchmarks, the WD20NPVT has a performance which places it at the bottom of the ranking. In the sequential transfer tests under HDTune, it was able to show better transfer rates, which confirms its destination as a data dump. Anyone looking for an average 2.5" drive with this high capacity has come to the right place. It is more expensive than the Toshiba MQ01ABB200, though.

The fifth WD drive, and at the same time last test subject for this roundup, is from the brand new Red series, which WD have now extended to include 2.5" drives. The Red is not available in capacities of 750 GB and 1000, we got the 1 TB version WD10JFCX. Exactly like the bigger brothers and sisters of the 3.5" segment, the notebook versions are equipped with WD's NASware 2.0. The cache is 16 MB and the two disks inside the drives rotate at 5400 rpm. Western Digital grants a warranty period of three years starting from the date of purchase.
{jphoto image=46211}
Western Digital WD10JFCX has positioned itself stubbornly at the top, both in synthetic benchmarks as well as in the more application-oriented PCMark suites. This good performance is very commendable in view of the rather low power consumption and moderate noise level. Heat creation however is a little higher than most. Given the focus of WD's Red series for a NAS environment, we can certify unrestricted applicability of the WD10JFCX for such a scenario. The extended warranty period of three years provides the purchaser with a further argument regarding drive reliability.

Software / drivers
  • Windows 7 Home Premium SP1 64-bit
  • Intel Rapid Storage Driver
  • NVIDIA GeForce 320.49
  • HDTach 3.0.10 ( Download )
  • HDTune Pro 5:50 ( Download )
  • PCMark 7 ( Download )
  • PCMark Vantage ( Download )
Other Settings and Notes
Unless stated otherwise, all drives will be tested on a SATA 6 Gb/s port on the P67 chipset, with the results of each benchmark smoothed over several runs in order to get an average value. This way, single variations to not affect the overall result.
We measured power consumption of the hard drives via an external power meter in combination with a USB docking station. The docking station behaves in a neutral way without inserted HDD and has no consumption. Any applicable "operating overhead" is therefore identical for all drives. The measured values are not representative for each operating scenario, but only show the measured consumption. The measurement is only there to provide a relative consumption hierarchy of the drives.
The measurement of the noise levels of the individual hard drives was also carried out using the USB docking station. The sound level meter "3222 Data Logger" by Voltcraft was placed at 10 cm distance, we measured both the sound pressure during a sequential write access, as well as in Active Idle state. Analogous to measuring power, please remember that this is a relative assessment of noise level.

The measured Random Access Time under HDTach was clearly won by the hybrid SSHDs by Seagate and Toshiba. Only in the first run they showed values raning from 15-18 ms. In all subsequent runs, the access time immediately fell to 0.3 ms. Among normal HDDs, the HGSTs Travelstar 7K1000 achieved nearly 15 ms, placing it at the top. The last position goes to the 5K1500.
Benchmark HDTach
Using HDTune we determined the read and write transfer rate throughput:
Benchmark HDTune
Benchmark HDTune
Benchmark HDTune
In the HDTune 5.5 read benchmarks, the Travel Star 7K1000/Z7K500 and WD7500BPKX were able to set themselves apart from the competition. The three benefit from their high rotation speed and the cache, which the competition lacks. Due to the lack of learnable patterns and available flash capacity, the SSHDs were beaten, and are entirely dependent on the performance of their HDD part. And since they rotate at a speed of 5400 rpm, they were not able to prevail in this test.
After the reading results, we now look at the results when writing:
Benchmark HDTune
Benchmark HDTune
Benchmark HDTune
The write benchmarks show a similar picture as in the reading benchmark. The three 7200-rpm drives from Western Digital and HGST are at the top, followed by the remaining participants.
The random read test in HDTune provides a rough calculation of how many operations can be completed when reading and writing simultaneously. Of course, the results can not compete with SSDs, which achieved over 30,000 IOPS.
Benchmark HDTune
Benchmark HDTune
Interestingly, the evaluation of the IOPS results shows the differences between the learning algorithms and the controllers of modern SSHD drives. All three Seagate drives are more than clearly beaten by the Toshiba MQ01ABF050H. In a direct comparison between the Momentus XT and laptop SSHDs you can see that Seagate was able to increase the quality of recognition algorithms by a factor of almost 5 to 10. The remaining HDDs stagnate at the usual ranges from 50-60 IOPS (read) and 120-160 (write).

PCMark Vantage consists essentially of two parts: the actual speed of the system is determined by performing "real" actions such as image and text editing, video playback and much more. It is often difficult or even impossible to tell the difference between different drives, because these types of benchmarks is often thwarted by the rest of the system (CPU, RAM, graphics card). The HDD test of PCMark however is more synthetic in nature since only so-called Traces are being played back (recorded requests when working with different programs). Assuming the rest of the system would not limit an SSD, the performance of a system would correlate with the results of the HDD tests - if the same or at least similar programs are being used as in the original recording of traces.
Unfortunately, the results of the gaming and music benchmarks have a relatively high fluctuation. In both tests, a clear statement is therefore only possible when there is at least 10% difference in results. The results of the other tests are much more reproducible (mean error rate no higher than 3%).
Benchmark PCMark Vantage
PCMark 7 is the direct successor to the older Vantage version, and as the name suggests it is optimized for use with Windows 7. The single benchmarks were divided into different categories; all tests (except for the storage benchmark) again are meant to determine the real performance of the system by including - in addition to the SSD (or the HDD) - all other components of the system (CPU, memory, graphics card) into the tests. Anyone interested in a more detailed description can refer to the comprehensive PCMark 7 Whitepaper (PDF).
Fortunately, reproducibility of results compared to the previous version has increased enormously: the resulting scores' variation between passes is almost always less than 0.5 percent. This makes it easier to identify performance differences between SSDs, without measurement fluctuations interfering in the comparison.
Benchmark PCMark 7
Benchmark PCMark 7
Benchmark PCMark 7
Benchmark PCMark 7
Benchmark PCMark 7
Benchmark PCMark 7
Benchmark PCMark 7
Benchmark PCMark 7
In both PCMark benchmark suites, the new SSHDs drives from Seagate and Toshiba were able to show their full potential. Without exception, the four drives were able to set themselves apart from the competition, and then some. Due to PCMark Vantage being slightly dated, differences to the rest of participants are of course much higher. However, these benchmarks still show the enormous potential of the learning algorithms when dealing with "learnable" tasks. They are no cure-all, but provide a good compromise between "expensive" SSDs and "slow" HDDs. Especially when it comes to flash equipment of modern HDDs we still see room for improvement, even though SSHDs will never outrun the "real" SSDs in raw performance.

To obtain information about the suitability of the disks as a potential system drive, we cloned the original Windows 7 test system to the tested drives, then restarting the system several times in a row. We measured the time from turning on the PC up to the moment the login screen of Windows 7 was displayed; accordingly, the entire boot-up process of the BIOS is included in the measurements:
Benchmark Windows 7 Startzeit
As expected, the three drives with high rotational speed provided for the fastest boot-up behavior. The Momentus XT was way on top, though the Adaptive Memory algorithms are likely to have contributed their part in it. The performance of the other SSHDs drives from Seagate and Toshiba was far from good in this test. With almost 63 seconds, the MQ01ABF050H even set a new negative record.
In order to determine the maximum operating temperature of the hard drives under load, each drive has been completely overwritten after completion of the respective benchmarks using the Erase function of HDTune. This allowed us to make sure that the drives are exposed to a constant high load and release a great deal of heat because of permanent write operations. The temperatures of the disks was recorded by reading the corresponding SMART value immediately after the erase operation, and adjusted to the ambient temperature at the time of measurement in order to ensure comparability.
Benchmark Temperatur
The measurements for heat generation in high load writing operations put the two Momentus XT, MQ01ABF050H and WD10JPVX at the (negative) top, whereas the Travelstar 7K1000 and Z7K500 did quite well, just as Toshiba's MQ01ABF050 and the WD10SPCX from Western Digital.
We have also taken a look at the power consumption of hard drives, in standby mode (idle) and under load:
Benchmark Stromverbrauch
Benchmark Stromverbrauch
As expected, at the top of the power consumption scale we find the WD7500BPKX by WD, since its performance has to be payed up with an appropriate ammount of energy. Due to its four-disk design, the WD20NPVT's consumption is also quite high, both when idle as well as under load. Then again, Toshiba's MQ01ABF050 was quite frugal.
We also compared the development of the operating noise, in standby mode (idle) and during the seek phase of accesses:
Benchmark Lautstärke
Benchmark Lautstärke
Needless to say, the drives rotating at 7200 rpm are particularly loud: HGST's Travelstar 7K100, Seagate's Momentus XT and Western Digital's Black are at the top of this test. The two SSHD series from Seagate and Toshiba turned out to be quite sneaky. These three drives show the lowest overall values in this category.

Of the tested 14 hard disks with different technical data, it will of course prove difficult to provide an overall 'winner', since the requirements of the respective application areas are much too varied. Some people mainly want a drive that operates quietly. Others require brute power, in which case the price won't play such a big role. Our final evaluation will therefore focus exclusively on the areas of "performance" and "value for money". In addition, we recommend an "all-round" drive.
If you care for performance and fast data access, or if you want to use the drives for performance-oriented purposes, we recommend first and foremost one of the shown hybrid drives (Seagate SSHD or laptop Toshiba MQ01AFxxxH). The drive by Seagate is a bit better than Toshiba's bolide. If you only want to rely on the tried and true disk technology without flash, we recommend either the Western Digital Black (WD7500BPKX) or the Travelstar 7K1000 of HGST. These models offer a first-class performance and can be easily installed in laptops or external data cases. Price, power consumption and heat generation are of course somewhat higher.

In the category with a good price-performance ratio we have three drives (based on their ct/GiB ratio). Specifically, HGST's 5K1500, Toshiba's MQ01ABB200 and Western Digital's WD10JPVX. All three drives cost an affordable 7 cents per usable GB. The low price is indeed due to the slightly lower performance, but when used as data dump, this is not really an issue. We chose Toshiba's MQ01ABB200 because it provides the buyer with the most total usable storage space at nevertheless acceptable transfer rates.

For everyday use without excessive performance ambitions, the Travelstar 5K1500 by HGST is a very good all-round drive. This is a very solid drive, placed in midfield in all benchmarks and consumption/heat/noise measurements. With a capacity of 1.5 TB, it also offers plenty of space for application data or multimedia files. The HTS541515A9E630 is not overly expensive, and is also part of our value-for-money recommendations.

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