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Hybrid Storage Roundup: Seagate Momentus XT vs. OCZ RevoDrive Hybrid vs. Intel Z68

Subject: Storage
Manufacturer: Various

OCZ RevoDrive Hybrid - PCIe big guns for when 2.5" alone just isn't fast enough.

Our 2.5" testing is done, well, sorta. OCZ took it upon themselves to slap a 2.5" HDD onto a PCIe board - mounted alongside a pair of SandForce 2200 driven 50GB SSDs. This brings the cache to a whopping 100GB. More than 12x larger than the cache of the Momentus XT, and a 40GB larger than the maximum allowed by Intel Z68 motherboard caching. Here's a quick gander at the front / packaging:

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...and the rear:

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...and the guts:

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The HDD is a Toshiba 1TB model - model MK1059GS, which is physically thicker than the typical 9.5" form factor.

It should be noted that the RevoDrive Hybrid is logically closer to the Z68 chipset than it is to the Momentus XT units. The Revo-style SSD and the Toshiba HDD both appear to the system individually. Here's a shot of how the card presents to the BIOS of our testbed:

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The user must take care to first install the OS to the HDD, and should disable the cache as any sort of boot option. Not only do they appear individually, there is no caching at play until the OS is installed and the special DataPlex caching driver software has been installed. This means your Windows install takes place at only HDD speed, and attempting to image an existing os to the HDD may require disassembly of the Revo. While the driver is yet another step required as part of the install (similar to Z68 caching solutions), it is fairly painless. The user is prompted for data and cache drives during the installation process:

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From that point on, the cache drive still appears in the BIOS, but the caching driver takes ownership of it at the OS level. The cache itself becomes invisible and is not listed in the Windows Disk management console. With our OS installed to the HDD and caching enabled, using the DataPlex software and the Revo SSD, here are the results:

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We slid the 'pure SSD' results off of the bottom and listed only Hybrids on this chart. In the first run, the 1TB drive looked very much like the other first runs, but the similarities end there. With ample PCIe bandwidth and a pair of high performance SandForce SSDs behind it, the RevoDrive Hybrid bests the competition by 2-6x across the board, clipping the 400's.

December 5, 2011 | 01:39 PM - Posted by Dean Brady (not verified)

I'm curious what type of issues other users have had with the Momentus XT G1 and if it is present in G2? I've been through 4 drives on 2 machines in the past 8 months. For many users the drive just stops showing up at boot so you have no OS to boot from.

I have a 500GB G1 in a laptop and another in my lanbox. I even had one in a MacBook PRO for a while. Great idea but I'm curious about real world, long term results. I use Adobe Creative Suite a lot and can't say that I saw any great improvement.

December 6, 2011 | 06:03 AM - Posted by KasiorMC (not verified)

And how do those dives compere to 10k RPM spinning ones like WD Velociraptor?

December 6, 2011 | 03:14 PM - Posted by Jeremy Hellstrom

If you are using the same files frequently enough to cache them in the SSD then the Momentus XT is in a whole other class. For non-repetitive data transfer/access it will tend to be a bit slower than a 6GBp/s 10K drive, but not much.

December 7, 2011 | 03:32 AM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

Still it would be interesting to see how the RevoDrive Hybrid would work with a Raptor.

December 7, 2011 | 01:02 PM - Posted by Jeremy Hellstrom

Definitely, though what you were testing would really influence the results. One of the big problems Al has testing these drives is that if you use a benchmark several times, the drive will cache it in the SSD and give results that you'd likely never see in the real world.

Certainly something to think about.

December 7, 2011 | 10:01 PM - Posted by Allyn Malventano

Good question indeed, but there's a few catches here. While the vraptor drive will physically fit on the board, it doesn't supply the voltages needed to spin up the drive itself. Velociraptor drives require +12V (in addition to laptop-only +5 and +3.3VDC).

That said, the caching part of all of these drives leave a Velociraptor in the dust, but it would definitely speed up the uncached accesses.

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December 6, 2011 | 09:47 PM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

I wonder how these numbers compare to using ReadyBoost with a good USB flash drive or a class 10 SD card? That would a a useful data point.

December 7, 2011 | 01:16 PM - Posted by Jeremy Hellstrom

In best case scenarios they compare to an HDD with a small SSD using SRT on Sandy Bridge. It would wipe the floor with ReadyBoost. 4.8Gbps best case on USB 3.0 versus 6Gbps best case over SATA

December 7, 2011 | 01:54 PM - Posted by Geoff K (not verified)

Have they worked out the issues with the Momentus XT drives? I was thinking of upgrading, but then I read all these reviews with freezing and locks up on the Macbook Pros. User's seem to be in a constant cycle of firmware upgrades. So ultimately I ended up going with a standard 7200 RPM drive.

December 8, 2011 | 08:52 PM - Posted by dean@thebradyreport.com (not verified)

Geoff K, I had one in my MacBook and just yanked it out for a 6GB Sata 240GB SSD Mercury Extreme from OWC. MBP flies now.

One other thing I was trying was to use an ExpressCard SSD (36GB) as a cache drive for Photoshop. I've heard people have used them as boot drives etc but I need a much larger drive for the OS.

July 25, 2012 | 07:36 PM - Posted by mauser1891 (not verified)

Hello Folks,

For a couple of months I have been using my "G2"/Momentus XT750 daily on my A6-2400M based ASUS NV55S07u. And it was the last "upgrade" that I did to it. My 8GB DDR3 is rated higher than my chipset capability, thus no "choke" in that area. I use a set "pagefile" size. Finally this Hybrid drive. Either from a linux distro or Win 7 it performs twice as fast overall compared to the "5400 Standard" drive that came with it. In fact I have evven been playing BF3 the last month and found it capable. Though on a intensive 48+ players game I might kick down the resolution to compensate for the limits of the base hardware. I have been using it for 13 months now. Remember that this is not a desktop or higher end laptop, but a "mid ranged" laptop at it's release time.

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