The Seagate FireCuda 2.5″ 1 TB is a hybrid laptop/SFF hard disk drive, with 8 GiB of flash memory in its SSD portion. Let’s test it and see if is it faster than conventional drives.
Hybrid hard drives use an interesting ideia: besides storing data in a magnetical spinning drive, they have a small portion of non-volatile memory, similar to an SSD, where they copy the most important data. So, when the CPU requests reading these data, the drive read them from the “SSD portion”, which is faster than the hard disk itself. So, some read operations are accelerated. It is all done internally by the unit controller, with no need of action by the user, so its installation and operation are identical to with a conventional drive.
We already tested an older model from Seagate with similar technology, the 500 GB Laptop Thin SSHD. In this new generation, the manufacturer abandoned the SSHD (mix of SSD and HDD) naming and called them FireCuda.
The 2.5 inches FireCuda (there are also 3.5 inches models) have 5,400 rpm, 128 MiB cache, and SATA-600 interface. There are 500 Gb, 1 TB, and 2 TB models.
The tested model is physically similar to the 1 TB Seagate Barracuda, which we tested recently. It seems like the mechanical part is the same, just with different controller boards.
It is good to remember that, while 2.5 inches drives were originally destinated to laptops, they are perfectly compatible with desktop computers, as long as your case have 2.5 inches bays (most modern cases have) or you use an adapter to install it at a 3.5 inches bay.
We decided to benchmark the 2.5″ FireCuda (code number ST1000LX015) against three conventional hard drives with similar form factor and capacity: the 2.5″ 1 TB BarraCuda (ST1000LX015), the Toshiba MQ01ABD100, and the Samsung ST1000LM024, so we can have an ideia of the performance difference between the hybrid and the conventional models.
Figures 1 and 2 present the Seagate FireCuda 1 TB ST1000LX015 2.5″ hard disk drive. It has a five-year warranty.
Figure 1: the Seagate FireCuda 1 TB ST1000LX015
Figure 2: the Seagate BarraCuda 1 TB ST1000LX015
In the table below, we will compare the basic specifications of these products.
|Seagate||FireCuda 1 TB||ST1000LX015||5,400 rpm||SATA-600||128 MiB||7 mm||1 TB||USD 60|
|Seagate||BarraCuda 1 TB||ST1000LM048||5,400 rpm||SATA-600||128 MiB||7 mm||1 TB||USD 55|
|Toshiba||Mobile HDD 1 TB||MQ01ABD100||5,400 rpm||SATA-600||8 MiB||9,5 mm||1 TB||USD 49|
|Samsung||Momentus 1 TB||ST1000LM024||5,400 rpm||SATA-300||8 MiB||9,5 mm||1 TB||USD 70|
* All prices were researched at Newegg.com on the day we published this review.
[nextpage title=”How We Tested”]
We tested the Seagate Desktop SSHD using HD Tune Pro and CrystalDiskMark programs. The drives were connected, one at a time, to an internal SATA-600 port. The only variable component between each benchmarking session was the HDD being tested.
- CPU: Core i7-6950X running at 3.8 GHz
- Motherboard: ASRock Fatal1ty X99 Extreme6/3.1
- CPU Cooler: Thermaltake Water 3.0 Ultimate
- Memory: 64 GiB DDR4-3000 HyperX Predator, four KHX3000C15/16GX 16 GiB modules running at 2400 MHz
- Boot drive: Kingston HyperX Savage 480 GB
- Case: Thermaltake Core P3
- Video Monitor: Samsung U28D590
- Power Supply: Corsair CX750
Operating System Configuration
- Operating System: Windows 10 Home 64-bit
We adopted a 3% error margin in our tests, meaning performance differences of less than 3% cannot be considered meaningful. Therefore, when the performance difference between two products is less than 3%, we consider them to have similar performance.
We used CrystalDiskMark’s default configuration for our tests, which benchmarked each hard drive using a file size of 1,000 MB with five test runs.
In the sequential read test, the FireCuda performed similarly to the BarraCuda.
In the sequential write test the FireCuda also had the same performance of the BarraCuda.
In the random read test using 512 kiB blocks, the FireCuda was 9% faster than the BarraCuda 1 TB.
Moving on to the random write test using 512 kiB blocks, the FireCuda and the BarraCuda performed the same way.
In the random read test using 4 kiB blocks, the FireCuda also had the same performance of the BarraCuda.
In the random write test using 4 kiB blocks, the FireCuda also performed similarly to the BarraCuda.
In the random read test using 4 kiB blocks and queue depth of 32, the FireCuda was 12% faster than the BarraCuda.
In the random write test using 4 kiB blocks and queue depth of 32, the FireCuda shown the same performance of the BarraCuda.[nextpage title=”DiskSpeed32″]
Now we will look at the results recorded using DiskSpeed32.
In the burst speed test, both the FireCuda and the BarraCuda performed similarly.
In the average read speed, the FireCuda and the BarraCuda were on a tie, too.
Access time is another important measurement. It measures the time the storage device delays to start delivering data after the computer has asked for given data. It is measured in the order of milliseconds (ms, which are equal to 0.001 s); the lower this value, the better.
Once more, in this test, the FireCuda also had the same performance of the BarraCuda.
[nextpage title=”Windows 10 loading”]
The benchmarks shown in the previous pages measure the performance of the hard disk access, ignoring the SSD portion. In this model, the algorithm that chooses which data to store in the SSD portion caches only the files open on the operating system boot, as well as the most used programs. So, it doesn’t accelerates “normal” data.
So, we ran another test, making a clean Windows 10 Home 64-bit install on the Firecuda, and then we measured the time for complete S.O. loading. After that, we repeated the procedure on the BarraCuda ST1000LM048. The times we measured are shown in the chart below.
As you can see, the loading time of Windows 10 Home using the FireCuda was 65% less than using the BarraCuda.
When running traditional benchmarking programs on the FireCuda (ST1000LX015) hybrid hard drive, we didn’t notice any performance gain compared to a mecanically similar conventional drive. This was expected in this model, since this kind of software don’t activate its non-volatile cache.
However, when we tested the real-life operating system load time, we were impressed on how fast it was. On modern hybrid hard disk drives, the non-volatile memory accelerates the loading of the operating system and the most used programs, but it doesn’t store data that are not in these categories.
Therefore, we can say that the FireCuda is great if you use it as a primary (or only) storage device, being an excellent option for systems that accept only one drive, like compact laptops, because it combines the large amount of storage space found on a hard disk drive and the high boot speed. However, it doesn’t make sense if you use it as a secondary unit for workdata storing: it will not accelerate the system in this case.