2.5” Momentus Hard Drives from Seagate: Two New Members of the Family Arrived

We would like to introduce to you two new compact 2.5” hard disk drives from Seagate with 7,200rpm and 5,400rpm spindle rotation speed. We are going to compare their performance against 8 other hard disk drives from the same market segment, including the new solutions from Hitachi, Toshiba and Fujitsu. Need more storage space for your laptop? Maybe it’s time to go Seagate…

by Andrey Kuznetcov
12/07/2005 | 06:20 PM

The 2.5” hard disk drive market is living through extremely active times these days. There is huge demand for new HDDs and it keeps growing constantly. So, the manufacturers do their best to win more of the market.

 

Seagate has been doing real good in this market lately. They revised their strategy in this direction and since 2003 they have been manufacturing compact Momentus hard disk drives.

Now that two years have passed since then we have every right to state that this was an absolutely right decision to make: the hard disk drives market kept growing and Seagate not only managed to get in the game, but to become an indisputable leader in terms of sales volumes here.

Being a leader is a definitely hard but also very responsible task. Every single day you have to prove the world that you really deserve being on top. In the hard disk drives market it means only one thing: you have to make new hard disk drive models, which will be better than the competitors’ solutions, which will come out ahead of the competitors’ solutions and which will be enough to satisfy the user demand.

So, let’s think what is actually an innovation of a hard disk drive of today? I believe that if you do a survey in any of the computer hardware stores, then most participants will name the storage capacity as the primary feature they are looking for in a HDD. Yes, no matter how traditional it might seem, but the users are still more convinced by the big numbers, which is an indirect indication of high quality for them. It would be much better though if at least 30% of the respondents could remember about such important feature as interface type.

Now that the spacecrafts… I actually meant, now that the Serial ATA interface has almost completely ousted parallel interface from the desktop mainboards (some manufacturers have to integrate PATA controller chips onto their products, btw, we should remind Promise to reanimate their old achievements :) ) and now that Intel managed to get into the mobile platforms thanks to the new core logic sets, we really cannot ignore the SATA interface any more.

The last in the list, but not the least important thing is certainly the speed. To be more exact the spindle rotation speed of the hard disk drive. Back in 2003 Hitachi released the first notebook HDD with 7,200rpm spindle rotation speed, having marked the beginning of a new competition wave (you can check out our review called Hitachi Travelstar 7K60 HDD: 7,200rpm Achieved! for more details).

We have been waiting for someone to join Hitachi in this race for two long years, and finally our patience and curiosity have been rewarded.

Not so long ago the Seagate Momentus HDD family acquired two new impressive members: Momentus 5400.2 with 120GB storage capacity and Momentus 7200.1. You can see from the model names that the first one belongs tot the well-known Momentus 5400.2 family, which has now reached the maximum storage capacity of 120GB (we have already reviewed some solutions from this family, you can see our article called Seagate Momentus 5400.2 2.5” Hard Disk Drive Review for details). The second model opens a new page in history and starts a new family of compact hard disk drives in Seagate’s product range.

Momentus 7200.1 HDD boasts a nearly perfect combination of speed and storage capacity: 100GB with the spindle rotating at 7,200rpm. Of course, both new models are available with PATA and SATA interface.

So let’s finally meet our testing participants.

Testing Participants

We are going to offer you a comparative test session with the following hard disk drive models:

You can refer to our previous articles on some of these models for more details. And now I would like to introduce to you those solutions that haven’t yet appeared on X-bit’s pages.

Seagate Momentus 5400.2 (ST9120821A) 120GB

The 5400.2 hard disk drive family includes not only the 120GB model we are looking at right now, but also the models with the following storage capacities: 100GB, 80GB, 60GB, 40GB, 30GB (by the way, the ST3100824A model that took part in our test session also belongs to this product family).

As you can guess from the name of the hard drive, the spindle rotation speed of this baby is 5,400rpm. The multi-segment cache buffer is 8MB big. The average seek time is 12.5ms, and the latency equals 5.6ms. The drive supports Ultra ATA/100 interface.

The power consumption of this drive is quite average: in the seek mode it consumes about 2.2W of power, and during reading and writing – about 1.9W. In idle mode the power consumption doesn’t exceed 0.8W, and in standby mode – 0.28W.

The drive can sustain an operational shock of 250 Gs for 2 milliseconds and a non-operational shock of 900 Gs for 1 millisecond. As for the acoustic characteristics of the drive it generates 2.4 bels of noise in the idle mode.

The dimensions of the drive are 9.5x69.85x100.2mm; its weight is 100 grams. The drives from this family use all Seagate’s brand name technologies that have already passed the test of time, such as SoftSonic FDB motor that improves the acoustics of the hard disk drive, and Quiet Step ramp load, which also allows to reduce the level of generated noise during operation and improves the shock resistance of the solution quite noticeably.

The drive is selling for approximately $250.

Seagate Momentus 7200.1 (ST910021A) 100GB

We should pay special attention to the 7200.1 drive model, because it boasts higher spindle rotation speed of 7,200rpm. As a result, it is certainly faster than its fellows working at only 5,400rpm speed. Besides the 100GB model that we had in our labs, this HDD family also includes solutions with 80GB and 60GB storage capacities.

The multi-segment cache-buffer of this drive is also 8MB big. The average seek time is 10.5ms, and the latency equals 4.2ms.

As for the power consumption it is not much higher than in case of the previous hard disk drive. In seek mode Momentus 7200.1 consumes 2.6W of power, during reading and writing – 2.4W, in idle mode - 0.95W, and in standby mode 0.28W.

The drive can sustain an operational shock of 250 Gs for 2 milliseconds and a non-operational shock of 800 Gs for 1 millisecond. The drive generates 2.5 bels of noise in the idle mode.

Just like the previously discussed model, this drive supports Ultra ATA/100 interface. The dimensions of the drive are 9.5x69.85x100.2mm; its weight is 0.115kg. The drive uses the same brand name technologies as the above mentioned model, such as SoftSonic FDB motor and Quiet Step ramp load.

The drive is selling for approximately $290.

Fujitsu (MHV2100AH) 100GB

The Fujitsu HDD offers 100GB of storage space and features 5,400rpm spindle rotation speed. The buffer is 8MB big. It demonstrates average seek time of 12ms and latency of 5.56ms.

During reading and writing operations the hard drive consumes about 1.9W of power. In idle mode the power consumption is 0.6W, and in standby mode – 0.2W. The drive can sustain an operational shock of 300 Gs and a non-operational shock of 900 Gs. The hard disk drive generates 2.6 bels of acoustic noise in the idle mode.

This solution supports ATA/6 (UATA/100) interface and is currently selling for around $195.

Hitachi Travelstar 5K100 (HTS541010G9AT00) 100GB

This drive from Hitachi boasts 100GB storage capacity with an 8MB buffer and works at 5,400rpm spindle rotation speed. It features 12ms average seek time and 5.5ms latency. During read/write operations it consumes 2W of power, in idle mode it requires 0.6W, and in standby mode – 0.2W.

The HDD from Hitachi can sustain an operational shock of 300 Gs for 2 milliseconds and a non-operational shock of 1000 Gs for 1 millisecond. It produces 2.5 bels of acoustic noise in idle mode.

The hard disk drive supports ATA/6 interface. As for the peculiarities of this HDD, I would like to point out the ABLE Technology support (Enhanced Adaptive Battery Life Extender) that is intended to reduce the power consumption. Besides, they also used special mechanics that should significantly extend the MTBF service period.

The drive is selling for approximately $200.

Toshiba (MK1032GSX) 100GB

Unfortunately, the reverse side of this HDD was covered with heat conductive film, so we couldn’t take any meaningful pictures.

This Toshiba HDD is the only SATA hard disk drive participating in our today’s tests. The drive offers 100GB of storage space with a 16MB buffer. It works at 5,400ropm spindle rotation speed. The average seek time equals 12ms and during this operation the hard drive will consume 2.5W of power. Reading and writing require less power, only 2W. In idle mode the HDD needs 0.8W, and in standby mode – 0.25W.

It can sustain an operational shock of 325 Gs for 2 milliseconds and a non-operational shock of 850 Gs for 1 millisecond. The drive generates 2.5 bels of noise in idle mode.

The drive is selling for approximately $210.

Summing up the features of all our today’s testing participants we would like to offer you a brief specification table:


Click to enlarge

Testbed and Methods

For our today’s test session we used the following software:

We assembled the following testbed:

The tests were performed with the promise SATA150 TX2 Plus controller card. This way we could test ATA and SATA drives on equal terms, because this controller supports both interfaces.

The drives were formatted for FAT32 and NTFS file systems as a single partition with the cluster of default size. In some cases, which will be specifically mentioned later in this article, we tested in 32GB logical partitions, also formatted for FAT32 and NTFS systems with the default cluster.

Since the last review of a 2.5-inch hard disk drive the testing methodology has been updated. First, we started running the tests in Windows XP OS :)

Second, we removed some Intel IOMeter tests from the list of approved benchmarks (such as FileServer and WebServer patterns). Third, we included PCMark04 into the list of our benchmarks. I am sure your immediate question would be: why not PCMark05? Let me explain: PCMark05 hasn’t yet reached patch 1.20, and if we use it without this patch, we will not be able to compare the results obtained in it with the previously obtained results from our database (retesting all the drives will take too much time). Unfortunately, the patches do not allow direct comparison of the results if they have been obtained in different versions of the test.

All PCMark04 tests were run 10 times and the average result was taken for further analysis.

Performance in Intel IOMeter: Sequential Read and Write Patterns

The low-level Intel IOMeter benchmark was used to test the linear read and write speed of the hard drives. During the test session there was a stream of read/write requests sent to the drives with the queue depth=4. The data block size changed every minute. As a result we can see the dependence of the linear read/write speed on the data block size.

The first diagram shows the linear read speed of the testing participants. An indisputable leader here is the Seagate Momentus 7200.1 100GB (ST910021A). Its performance is a way higher than that of other hard drives starting with 8KB data blocks. The second fastest in linear reading is Seagate Momentus 5400.2 120GB (ST9120821A), which turned out slightly ahead of the Fujitsu and Hitachi Travelstar 5K100 100GB (HTS541010G9AT00) drives thanks to efficient work with small data blocks. Another testing participant, the Toshiba hard disk drive, yielded to all the rivals in terms of the maximum speed, but appeared to be the best one in reading small blocks of data (from 512 Bytes to 2KB).

By the way, this behavior seems to be a distinguishing feature of the Toshiba drives:

The remarkable thing is that Hitachi Travelstar 7K60 (HTS726060M9AT00) with 7,200rpm spindle rotation speed lost to almost all the 100GB HDDs with 5,400rpm speed. Well, we have just seen with our own eyes that higher data density is another very efficient weapon in this fight for the fastest linear reading, besides the higher spindle rotation speed.

Now let's take a look at Sequential Writing:

We see a very similar picture when we look at linear writing graph. Just like in the previous case, Seagate Momentus 7200.1 100GB (ST910021A) HDD is the leader. It is noticeably ahead of the others here. The second prize was won by Seagate Momentus 5400.2 120GB (ST9120821A) HDD, which managed to get a little bit ahead of Fujitsu. The next fastest solution is Hitachi Travelstar 5K100 100GB (HTS541010G9AT00), although it turns out slowest than everyone else when it comes to working with smaller data blocks. The last one, Toshiba HDD, was only capable of defeating the hard drive from Samsung.

Performance in WinBench99

The graphs below show the data transfer rates of five most interesting HDD models:

Remember, that here the tests were run on a 32GB partition located in the very beginning of the hard disk drive. Here is the complete results table (click to enlarge).

Now let’s take a look at the performance of the tested hard disk drives in NTFS file system. We will pay special attention to the results obtained in WinMark benchmark, primarily to the results of High-End Disk WinMark:

This diagram proves that Seagate Momentus 7200.1 100GB (ST910021A) is the winner here. It is followed by the Toshiba HDD, which surely owes its success to the twice as big buffer (16MB against 8MB by other HDDs). The third and fourth positions are split between Seagate Momentus 5400.2 120GB (ST9120821A) and Fujitsu. Quite far behind them comes the Hitachi Travelstar 5K100 100GB (HTS541010G9AT00).

Now come the results obtained in FAT32 (click to enlarge):

Seagate Momentus 7200.1 100GB (ST910021A) again wins the laurels. Fujitsu hard drive is just a little bit behind the leader. The third fastest appears Toshiba HDD that managed to outperform Seagate Momentus 5400.2 120GB (ST9120821A). Hitachi Travelstar 5K100 100GB (HTS541010G9AT00) finished the sixth, having left behind its brother with 7,200rpm spindle rotation speed.

The next diagram shows how fast the HDDs can read data from internal and external cylinders. As we have expected, the maximum data transfer rate belongs to the new Seagate drive – the Momentus 7200.1 100GB (ST910021A). After a significant gap follow the second prize winners – Seagate Momentus 5400.2 120GB (ST9120821A), Hitachi Travelstar 5K100 100GB (HTS541010G9AT00) and Fujitsu MHV2100AH. The fifth guy, Toshiba HDD, falls quite far behind the leading group, as in this case large buffer seems to be of no significant importance.

The last diagram from the WinBench99 testing suite shows the access times of the testing participants. As we could anticipate, the shortest access time values belong to the hard drives with 7,200rpm spindle rotation speed. The older Hitachi Travelstar 7K60 (HTS726060M9AT00) hard disk drive showed the best result among the 7,200rpm solutions. And Seagate Momentus 5400.2 120GB (ST9120821A) proved the winner among the 5,400rpm ones. The second best access time in the 5,400rpm batch belongs to Hitachi Travelstar 5K100 100GB (HTS541010G9AT00).

Performance in FC-Test

Well, now it’s high time we got down to a benchmark that produces the most realistic performance results. Yes, I am talking about FC-test. Let me remind you once again that the credible performance measurements are guaranteed by the working principles of this software we developed in our labs for HDD testing.

The main idea of FC-Test is to measure the time the hard disk drives need to create (write), read and copy file sets, which differ from one another by the type, size and number of files. Then we calculate the practical performance of the drives basing on the time measurements.

As you remember from our previous HDD reviews, Windows and Programs patterns include a large number of smaller files, and the remaining three patterns – ISO, MP3 and Install – work with a limited number of larger files. For copy operations each drive is formatted into two 32GB equal logical partitions. The patterns are copied either within the same partition or from one partition to another. Although the tables contain complete performance reports, we decided to use the results of only three patterns for the illustrative diagrams. The Tow new hard disk drives from Seagate that are the main heroes of our today’s test session have been placed next to one another for easier analysis of the results.

We will start discussing the results with the NTFS file system:

The first diagram shows the time each of the hard drives needed to create new files. An indisputable leader in all patterns is Seagate Momentus 7200.1 100GB (ST910021A). The second newcomer from Seagate, also performed very well having shown the second best result. Hitachi Travelstar 5K100 100GB (HTS541010G9AT00), Hitachi Travelstar 7K60 (HTS726060M9AT00) and the Fujitsu hard disk drive fell far behind the leaders and demonstrated about the same level of performance.

Seagate Momentus 7200.1 100GB (ST910021A) retained its leadership in the file reading test. The situation with Seagate Momentus 5400.2 120GB (ST9120821A) turned out not so rosy, though. This guy failed to retain its prestigious second position, rolled down to the level of Hitachi Travelstar 5K100 100GB (HTS541010G9AT00) and gave the second prize over to Hitachi Travelstar 7K60 (HTS726060M9AT00) and Fujitsu hard drives in most patterns. Toshiba HDD is just a little bit behind the leaders.

When we copy files within the same partition Seagate Momentus 7200.1 100GB (ST910021A) HDD stays ahead of the race. The second Seagate newcomer also looks very nice here: it is ahead of the competitors in most patterns. The leading group also includes the Fujitsu hard drive, Toshiba hard drive and Hitachi Travelstar 5K100 100GB (HTS541010G9AT00), which also proved pretty fast, although not the fastest of all.

The situation remains the same even when we test the copy speed from one partition to another. Far ahead of everyone else is again Seagate Momentus 7200.1 100GB (ST910021A) followed by its younger brother, Seagate Momentus 5400.2 120GB (ST9120821A). The other three usual suspects, the Fujitsu, Toshiba and Hitachi Travelstar 5K100 100GB (HTS541010G9AT00) are again sharing the third place.

Now it is high time we took a closer look at the performance of our testing participants in FAT32 file system. Unfortunately, we cannot include the results for Hitachi Travelstar 5K100 100GB (HTS541010G9AT00) here.

For some mysterious reason this HDD simply refused to pass our test. When we created two 32GB partitions on the drive and formatted them for FAT32, FC-Test created files there. However, when we rebooted the system (our FC-Test script implies that the computer gets rebooted between different disk operations), the partition with the created files disappeared. That was a really puzzling thing…

And the curious thing is that if we paused the test once the files had been created and checked out the contents of the HDD, all files were right there. But right after restarting the system, the partition would disappear with all the files. This phenomenon took place on a few different computer platforms and with a couple different controllers. After a number of hopeless attempts we gave up and decided to wait for another sample to come in.

The file creation diagram once again shows that the fastest is our Seagate Momentus 7200.1 100GB (ST910021A), which proved best of all in all patterns. Its fellow, Momentus 5400.2 120GB (ST9120821A), also confirmed its good second position having left all of its rivals far behind. Fujitsu and Toshiba hard drives yielded to Hitachi Travelstar 7K60 (HTS726060M9AT00) with 7,200rpm spindle rotation speed and to the Western Digital WD800VE solution.

The file read speed shows the same leader again, though the rest of picture has become slightly different. Seagate Momentus 5400.2 120GB (ST9120821A) failed to retain its second place and yielded to Hitachi Travelstar 7K60 (HTS726060M9AT00). Besides, Fujitsu also managed to get ahead of the Seagate fellow here. Toshiba HDD appears to be behind all the above mentioned hard disk drives, even behind the Seagate Momentus 5400.2 120GB (ST9120821A).

When we measured the copy speed within the same partition, we saw clearly that Seagate Momentus 7200.1 100GB (ST910021A) retained its indisputable leadership, and the second place was again taken by Hitachi Travelstar 7K60 (HTS726060M9AT00). The new Seagate HDD turned out the fastest among the 5,400rpm HDDs. Fujitsu was really close behind. The overall performance of the Toshiba hard disk drive appeared lower than that of the others here.

The last diagram here shows the copy speed from one partition to another. Seagate Momentus 7200.1 100GB (ST910021A) wins the race having proven the fastest with all types of file groups. The second prize was given to its closest relative, Seagate Momentus 5400.2 120GB (ST9120821A). Fujitsu HDD managed to outperform Hitachi Travelstar 7K60 (HTS726060M9AT00) in a few patterns, while the Toshiba hard disk drive fell behind the latter two.

Performance in PCMark04

This time we include PCMark04 into the list of our approved benchmarks. With this benchmarking suite we will test the performance of our hard disk drives in five different modes. You can read more about PCMark04 benchmark and its advantages for HDD testing in our article called “PCMark04: Benchmark for Hard Disk Drives? ”.

Just in case let me remind you briefly of the subtests that come with the PCMark04 testing suite.

Windows XP Startup test contains a sequence of requests sent to the HDD on system start-up. Application Loading test show s disk activity when the system opens and closes six popular applications. File Copying test shows the HDD activity when copying a set of files. Hard Disk Drive Usage reports the disk activity during the work with some widely spread applications.

Having run all the tests for a given HDD, PCMark04 generates a certain performance index calculated according to the following formula:

HDD Score = (XP Startup Trace x 120) + (Application Load trace x 180) + (File Copy Trace x 28) + (General Usage x 265)

In our case we ran each test 10 times, calculated the average values and summed them all up in the table and diagrams below.

According to Windows XP Startup result, Seagate Momentus 7200.1 100GB (ST910021A) is an indisputable leader. The second and third place is split between Seagate Momentus 5400.2 120GB (ST9120821A) and Toshiba hard disk drive. Fujitsu and Hitachi Travelstar 5K100 100GB (HTS541010G9AT00) took the sixth and eighth places respectively.

In the Application Loading test our hero, Seagate Momentus 7200.1 100GB (ST910021A), wins again. The next fastest is Toshiba, and the third and fourth places are taken by Fujitsu HDD and Seagate Momentus 5400.2 120GB (ST9120821A). Hitachi Travelstar 5K100 100GB (HTS541010G9AT00) appeared only the seventh this time.

The results of File Copying test once again put the two newcomers from Seagate upfront. And they are quite far ahead of the other here, which actually confirms everything we have just seen in FC-Test.

The third place was given to Fujitsu drive closely followed by Hitachi Travelstar 5K100 100GB (HTS541010G9AT00). Toshiba hard drive we have been paying close attention to today as well, appeared the third one from the end.

Judging by the results of the Hard Disk Drive Usage test, Seagate Momentus 7200.1 100GB (ST910021A) doesn’t get as far ahead of the competitors, as in the three previous cases. Toshiba HDD follows just a little bit behind. The third fastest here is Fujitsu MHV2100AH, and Hitachi Travelstar 5K100 100GB (HTS541010G9AT00) follows right behind it. The second Seagate’s newcomer took the sixth place this time.

According to the results of the four previous tests we can calculate the HDD Score. It shows that Seagate Momentus 7200.1 100GB (ST910021A) is an indisputable winner with a great advantage over the opponents. The second fastest according to the HDD score is Toshiba hard disk drive. The third one – is taken by another Momentus buddy – the Momentus 5400.2 120GB (ST9120821A). Fujitsu HDD also looks very good here, having taken the fourth place.

Conclusion

The results of our today’s test session are quite logical and predictable, I should say. The fastest and the winner of this race is the new Seagate Momentus 7200.1 (ST910021A). It boasted an indisputable advantage over the hard drives with 5,400rpm spindle rotation speed, so no wonder it won.

At the same time it easily defeated the only opponent it has so far - the Hitachi Travelstar 7K60 (HTS726060M9AT00) with 7,200rpm spindle rotation speed – due to the higher per-platter data density.

So we have every right to recommend Seagate Momentus 7200.1 (ST910021A) to all users who are looking for maximum performance and maximum storage capacity.

The second Seagate solution we introduced to you today, Seagate Momentus 5400.2 120GB (ST9120821A), also looked very attractive in our test session. In most practical benchmarks it outperformed the opponents with the same spindle rotation speed and in some cases turned out faster than even Hitachi Travelstar 7K60 (HTS726060M9AT00)! Of course, we cannot really compare these two drives directly against one another, because the storage capacity of the Seagate drive is 120GB and not 100GB, as by most of its opponents, not to mention the HDDs with even lower storage capacity. Higher data density per platter gives it some advantage, but even keeping that in mind the results are quite remarkable. Once again I would like to stress that Seagate Momentus 5400.2 120GB (ST9120821A) will be of interest to those users who care more about the storage capacity of the hard drive, and in this case they will get not only that but also high performance.

Now I have to say a few words about the other three testing participants that we tested for the first time today. I believe that the preferred one of the three would be the Fujitsu MHV2100AH. Toshiba MK1032GSX looks pretty good as well, especially since it was the only drive in this batch that featured a 16MB buffer and supported SATA interface. I assume that the larger buffer did cast certain influence over the HDD’s performance. Hitachi Travelstar 5K100 100GB (HTS541010G9AT00) turned out somewhat slower then the others.

Well, there are more solutions to choose from when it comes to getting a new 2.5” hard disk drive, and it is definitely a good sign, because competition leads to better product quality. It is an especially pleasing observation for the 7,200rpm HDDs segment, where there is not that much of a choice yet.

We are going to continue testing new solutions coming out in compact HDDs market, especially since there is a very exciting product, Seagate Momentus 5400.3 with the record breaking storage capacity of 160GB coming out soon.