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Seagate Momentus 120GB Seagate Momentus 120GB: A mobile user can never have enough storage space, so we checkout Seagate's latest solution for notebooks.
Date: September 7, 2005
Written By:

    One of the never ending problems people have with their computers is that there is never enough hard drive space.  A few years ago people said you wouldn't fill up a 10GB hard drive, and now its a 80GB drive, with the 10GB just being Windows and a game or two.

    Laptops have been catching up with their desktop companions in many areas in the last few years.  Processors are within a couple speed grades, video cards are less than a generation behind, and RAM isn't an issue.   However with the size increase in hard drives in desktop systems, with 160GB and higher being fairly common, laptops are still behind in this area.  Most laptops average a 60GB hard drive with their standard configuration.

    Seagate has been a hard drive manufacturer for quite a while, with many of their SCSI drives being used by many corporations over the last decade.  Their IDE and now SATA drives are also very nice, as they are quiet, and offer new technologies quite quickly.  They have also used these strategies in their laptop drives.

Seagate Momentus 5400.2 120GB HD

    Today we will be looking at the Seagate Momentus 120GB 5400RPM laptop hard drive.  For a look at Seagate's specifications on this hard drive, please check .  We will look at what most of the specifications mean to the user in the review but first lets take a look at this drive.

    Since most laptops already come with a hard drive and installing a new one is a matter of remove old one put new one in, the drive is supplied as just that the drive by itself.

    As you can see from the last picture this is a standard 2.5" hard drive, pretty much identical to every other one out there.  The only visual differences is that the top cover isn't covering all the top of the drive compared to the Hitachi hard drive right next to it.

    Installation varies depending on the device you are putting the hard drive in.  I put it in an external case and inside my eMachine m6805 laptop and really it didn't take much effort, just a few screws and the drive slides in.  Every laptop is different so your experience may vary, but there is usually some instructions available either with the product or online.

    The hard drive itself is a 5400RPM drive, which is nothing that may be interesting to desktop computer users, as these drives are at a minimum 5400RPM but mostly 7200RPM these days.  However laptops are still normally shipped with 4200RPM hard drives, for battery life and power considerations as well as price.  So a higher RPM hard drive can make a difference, performance wise, when put in a laptop drive.  The 8MB buffer is also a standard for desktop drives but nice to see in this drive.

    The rated average seek time of 12.5ms is also decent compared to other drives, about 3ms slower than most desktop drives but slightly faster than the Hitachi hard drive we will look at in comparison.  The Toshiba MK2018GAP 20GB hard drive we also used had a slightly better seek time of 12ms according to the specs.  We must remember that these are what the specifications for the drives are from the manufacturer, we will see if this holds up in our tests.

Benchmarking System

Laptop: eMachine m6805 Laptop
CPU Clock Speed: 800MHz - 1.8GHz

AMD Athlon 64 (Clawhammer) s754

Memory: Samsung PC2700 SODIMM (2*256MB)
Memory Timings: 2.5-3-3-10
Memory Speed: 320MHz (DDR)
Hard Drives:

Hitachi Travelstar 4K80 60GB 4200RPM

Toshiba MK2018GAP 20GB 4200RPM Seagate Momentus 5400.2 120GB 5400RPM
Video Card: ATI Radeon 9600 64MB
Operating System: Windows XP Home SP2 Direct X 9c
Drivers: Catalyst 4.6
Other Devices: Hotdrive 2.5" external case (USB 2.0/ IEEE1394)
Benchmarks: HD Tach 3.0
VirtualDub 1.6.4
Winamp 5.08d

    The benchmarks were run three times, with the desktop running at a resolution of 1280*800.  As a reference the computer was run on battery power with everything disabled (wireless, extra programs) and the screen at its brightest level, with Winamp playing music and the battery life then measured.  The Toshiba hard drive was tested using the external case, which didn't make a difference in the results compared to internal use, for this drive at least.  Both of the other drives were tested internally.

    The VirtualDub test involved doing a direct stream copy of a 841MB video file from/to the test hard drive, while on battery power.  The results were measured in battery life, and how many times the file was copied.  With HD Tach we ran the Long Bench on each drive.  The file copy test used a folder of 2176 files with a total size of 2.47GB.  Most of these test files were in the 30-50KB range or the 2MB range with the one 841MB file mentioned above also being included.

Benchmark Results

    First we will take a look at the synthetic results in the form of HD Tach.  This program has been a standard one for measuring drive read performance across the entire drive, so lets see the results.

Toshiba MK2018GAP Hitachi 4K80 Seagate 5400.2

    What do we see from these results?  First with the Toshiba drive we can see that its random access time isn't that good at all at 20.6 ms.  The burst speed and CPU utilization are both due to the USB bus which uses the CPU quite a bit and limits burst mode bandwidth due to its own bandwidth limits.  As for the read results, the drive starts at 24MB/s and gradually goes down to 13MB/s at the end of the drive with an average of 19MB/sec.  Moving to the Hitachi drive we see its random access time is similar to the Toshiba drive, though it lands just under the 20ms mark.  This drive starts the read test at just over 30MB/s and gradually goes down to 15MB/s at the end of the drive with an average of 24MB/s.  Lastly looking at the Seagate hard drive what do we see?  It has a random access time of 16.4ms which is about a quarter faster than the other drives, most likely due to the faster rotational speeds.  Read speeds start at the 40MB/s mark and end at the 20MB/s mark, with an average of 33MB/s.  This is quite a bit of an improvement on the Hitachi drive of 10/5/9MB/s in each area respectively, which is 37% improvement in this synthetic test.  So lets look at some real life tests to see if this hard drive is that much faster than its competition.

    Now we will look at the file transfer test.  This is a simple internal folder to folder copy of the 2.47GB of data.  So lets see how these drives did.  Times are in the format minutes: seconds. milliseconds

File Copy Test

Toshiba MK2018GAP Hitachi 4K80 Seagate 5400.2
Time Taken: 22:43.82 11:20.11 4:16.15
Average MB/s: 1.86 3.72 9.89

    Quite an interesting result here.  The Toshiba drive only manages 1.86MB/s in our copy test, while the Hitachi gets 3.72MB/s and the Seagate 9.89MB/s.  The difference between the two 4200RPM drives is 100% and the difference between the Hitachi and the Seagate drive is 165%.  This difference between the Hitachi and the Toshiba could be attributed to the differences in buffer size of 8MB and 2MB respectively as many of the files might be just over the cache size of the Toshiba drive.  The difference between the Seagate and Hitachi can partially be explained by the difference in the drives' different RPM.  The only explanation for the remaining difference is that the Seagate has a higher areal density compared to the Hitachi drive, 94 Gb/in2 to 68.5Gb/in2.  Lets see if this result continues in our battery life stress test.

    Seagate states that their 5400RPM drive provides pretty much the same battery life as a comparable 4200RPM hard drive.  So we ran a test using VirtualDub to do a direct stream copy of a video file that is 840MB.  We used the built in job control to create about 75 instances of this test.  We started this test and pulled the power out so that this test was running completely in battery mode.  The CPU usage was less than 10% in all cases, thus the CPU was running at 800MHz.  As a reference we ran the computer in battery mode using just Winamp to see maximum battery life at these settings, so lets see the results.  Battery life is in Hours: Minutes. Seconds format.

VirtualDub Test Reference Battery Life Hitachi 4K80 Seagate 5400.2
Battery Life: 2:14.23 2:00.57 1:58.20
Number of Runs: 0 35.40 62.25
Average MB/s 0 4.71 7.60

    What does this test show?  Looking just at this from a battery life standpoint the Hitachi and Seagate are within 2% of each other, however they have an 11% shorter battery life than if they are not in use.  Both drives in the system still offer about two hours of battery life, though this is the worst case as the brightness of the screen is at its maximum, and different laptops have different battery lives.  Moving onto the performance aspect of this test we see that the Seagate drive performs more runs of the test than the Hitachi drive by about 75%, which leads to its higher data rate.  Again this can be attributed to the same reasons we discussed in the previous test, though the results aren't quite as different.


    We've looked at this drive and its performance, what does this show us?

    The drive, as with basically all OEM drives comes as just that, the bare drive, nothing else.  Since its target is laptops or external drive bays/MP3 players it really doesn't need anything else.  Installation in my laptop and external enclosure were pretty easy with a few screws holding the drive bracket in (thank you eMachines).  Seagate's warranty is among the best I've seen at five years, which is much better than the one year or so that comes with laptops (and thus their hard drives) or the three years offered by others

    Performance is what this drive is targeted to excel at, an it seems to do so fairly well.  In our tests we saw it do markedly better than the Hitachi drive in most tests that focused on performance.  Battery life was slightly lower than that of the Hitachi drive but within 2% of that drive.

    Price is always a factor in our tests.  This drive costs in the range of $250 (US) at the time of writing, which is about $80 higher than the 100GB version of this drive.  Remember that the cost of this drive would be in addition to your laptops' price as most places don't provide this hard drive as an upgrade option.  The price of the 100GB is pretty much in line with the 5400RPM competition, and the 120GB is really in a class all its own as there is no other drive on , at the moment anyway.

Good Points

  • Very Good Performance
  • 120GB in a 2.5" hard drive
  • Same Power usage as 4200RPM drive
  • 5 Year Warranty

Bad Points

  • Price
  • Not 7200RPM (Another model by Seagate is offered)

Final Words

    This drive has performance that outclasses most other stock laptop drives by quite a bit, and the size doesn't hurt either.  However the price does and while I definitely recommend this class of drive I'd point to the 100GB unless you really need that extra 20GB.

If you have any comments, be sure to hit us up in our forums.


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