Just a few years ago, it seemed unlikely that Seagate would ever release an SSD. The company’s outspoken CEO, Bill Watkins, roundly dismissed solid state drives in 2008 and 2009, even going so far as to imply Seagate would file lawsuits against upstart manufacturers over patent infringement. Western Digital dipped a toe into consumer SSDs in 2010, but Seagate has stayed out of the market until now. The new Seagate 600 is the manufacturer’s first consumer solid-state device, and it’s a solid first effort with some unique features.
The company has actually released two SSDs—the 600 and the 600 Pro—and this review focuses on the consumer-oriented 600 flavor. Both use Link_A_ Media’s LM87800 controller. That’s not a common option, though Corsair uses it in their Neutron series of drives as well. Documentation on the controller is scarce, but we know it’s an eight-channel design that supports all of the modern Flash types and can address up to 1TB of NAND. Seagate’s product specs for the 600 list an annualized failure rate of 0.58% and an unrecoverable read error likelihood of one to 10E16. That’s actually substantially better than the company’s mobile drives, which list error rates of 10E14, though it should be noted that such measurements have been criticized as generally unrealistic.
Data retention rate if the drive is powered off is listed as 12 months. That’s something to always be aware of when using NAND-based media—unlike a hard drive, which will hold data for years barring external shock or contamination, NAND flash only holds its charge for a certain period of time. Retention rates have been trending downwards as process nodes drop, but 12 months on the Seagate 600′s 19nm flash is an acceptable figure for consumer products. Seagate doesn’t give a maximum number of program/erase cycles, but does offer a warranty for the drive for up to 73TB of writes or three years, whichever comes first.
Seagate’s goal with the 600 consumer drive is to prove it can hang with vendors like Samsung—so can the drive deliver? We tested the SanDisk Extreme II 480GB using a Asus P877V-Deluxe motherboard with 8GB of DDR3-1600 and an Intel Core i7-3770K CPU. The P877-V Deluxe offers multiple SATA controllers from Intel and Marvell; all of the drives were connected to Intel’s 6G SATA port. We’ve compared the Seagate 600 to the SanDisk Extreme II 480GB and a Samsung 840 Pro Series 256GB at 256GB.v
The performance figures for AS-SSD reflect a drive’s performance in a particular type of data workload. Sequential read/write tests measure an SSD’s capabilities when reading or writing a large block of contiguous data. A single large movie or ISO image will test a drive’s sequential performance (assuming that the target drive isn’t badly fragmented).
In AS-SSD’s sequential tests, the Seagate 600 hits 508MBps read and 432MBps write, compared with 485MBps read/460MBps write for the SanDisk Extreme II and 518MBps read/481MBps write for the Samsung 840 Pro. All three drives are excellent performers, though write performance is a bit low on the Seagate 600 compared to the other drives. In the 4K 32-deep queue test, the Seagate 600 managed 314MBps read and 268MBps write, as compared to the SanDisk Extreme II’s 356MBps read/249MBps write and the 840 Pro’s 381MBps read, 299MBps write. These figures imply the Seagate 600 is running a bit behind the other drives, though it’s worth noting that at speeds this high, the gap is effectively invisible.
AS-SSD’s also includes a real-world file copy test with three presets—ISO files, program files, and game files. Each type of file is a different size and includes a different amount of compressible data. We reboot in between benchmark runs of this test and throw out the outliers to prevent data caching in Windows or on-drive from polluting the results. Here, performance figures are a bit lopsided. The Seagate 600 came in second place in the ISO copy test (312MBps compared to 309MBps for the SanDisk Extreme II and 365MBps for the Samsung 840 Pro), but wins the Program copy test (221MBps compared to 206MBps for SanDisk, 179MBps for 840 Pro). In the Games test, it flattens all comers—the Seagate 600′s 335MBps performance wallops the SanDisk Extreme II’s 228MBps and the 840 Pro’s 292MBps.
Finally, there’s PCMark 7, which is a different type of test. The benchmark test uses real storage workloads created by recording traces of hard drive activity when playing games, loading music or video, or copying files. These traces are used to measure the performance of storage products in comprehensive real-world scenarios. Here, the Seagate 600 lags the other two drives somewhat, with a respectable 5,255 as compared to 5,373 for the SanDisk and a 5,588 for the Samsung 840 Pro.
Price-wise, the Seagate 600 is quite competitive. Current price is $409, which actually brings it in well below the 480GB SanDisk Extreme II, even if the latter is slightly faster. It’s worth repeating something we noted for that review: The really cheap high-capacity SSDs are markedly slower than the drives floating around the $400 price point. At $409, the 480GB Seagate 600 is priced competitively against drives from Crucial and Plextor—the SanDisk Extreme II 480GB is about 10% more expensive, at $449.
That puts the Seagate 600 in a great position as far as its price/performance ratio—it’s a great first drive from Seagate, and hopefully a sign of things to come.
|Storage Capacity (as Tested)||480 GB|
Copyright © 2012 Ziff Davis, Inc